You Oughta Be in Pictures
Chris Fuller came of age amid St. Petersburg's vibrant late-'90s all-ages punk community. So it makes sense that, when he decided to try his hand at filmmaking, Fuller heeded the old adage about writing what one knows and began penning a script about coming of age amid St. Petersburg's vibrant late-'90s all-ages punk community.Interestingly, though, Fuller started cranking out pages while it was still happening — at the ripe old age of 15.
"The story's not autobiographical," says the now 21-year-old writer/director, "but there are definitely personal influences."
Fuller wrote the script for Loren Cass, now shifting from pre-production to filming, off and on over the course of four years. Proudly "local, born and raised" in the St. Pete area, he wanted his hometown to be as much a part of the story as possible, and the movie's being shot on location. While there have always been scads of able Bay area filmmakers shooting around town on a nonexistent budget, Fuller opted not to do so; instead, he forced himself to put off starting the process until he had secured a professional film crew, and enough money to do the flick the way he wanted.
"I've been putting together the financing for the last three years — it'll be three years exactly on Saturday, actually," he says.
He also wanted to make sure he could nail down some experienced acting talent, as well. Though many of the parts in Loren Cass will be played by scenester friends and oddball St. Pete characters, Fuller has hired some notable leads: Jacob Reynolds, who played that unsettling kid in Harmony Korine's demented 1997 indie sensation Gummo, and Kayla Tabish, from the currently-in-theaters comedy The Girl Next Door, will be featured.
No movie using the 'burg's punk scene as a backdrop would be complete without footage from an all-ages show at the State Theatre, and Fuller's shooting some this Thursday.
"I definitely think there's a personal attachment to [the venue] for everybody in St. Pete," he says. "Especially people in my age group."
Leftover Crack, the current incarnation of crusty New York ska-core favorites Choking Victim, is playing a low-dough two-buck set, and everyone who attends will be asked to sign releases as extras in the film.
Why Leftover Crack?
"Because they rock," says Fuller, who called the band up at the last minute to ask if they'd be interested in helping out. "I told 'em about it, and they bent over backward to accommodate us. They totally stepped up."
Shots Steal Sold Souls
Dick Waterman's name appears on the list of luminaries currently inhabiting the Blues Hall of Fame, but he's neither a legendary performer nor an iconic label honcho. In fact, he's the only guy in there who doesn't fit into either category.
Waterman is probably best known as the man who both helped bring seminal Delta blues artists to the collegiate folk fans of the early '60s, and formed the first booking and management agency (Avalon) to specialize in the genre.
"In the early '60s, virtually all acoustic music came under the umbrella of folk — Cajun, Zydeco, Appalachian, bluegrass," he says. "If you went to a folk festival, you saw blues; you saw all different kinds of traditional acoustic music."
He's managed artists from Junior Wells to Buddy Guy to Bonnie Raitt. These days, however, Waterman is becoming more famous as a photographer than anything else. While managing, booking and squiring blues players all over the States and beyond, Waterman, a former sportswriter and photojournalist, casually took pictures that are now becoming the images that define the era when real blues broke through to widespread (read: white) popularity.
"I never ever at any point whatsoever felt I was chronicling the time," says Waterman. "My first order of business was, I carried the guitar, with whoever I was working with a few steps behind me. And when they were well situated, I might wander off around the grounds and take some photographs or whatever. There was never any sense that I was doing anything for some historical perspective."
Waterman's new book, Between Midnight and Day: The Last Unpublished Blues Archive, is simply jammed with gorgeous, rarely seen images and anecdotes. He'll be up at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa this Tuesday to show some of his work, and tell some of his stories.
The photographer never had any real plans to publish a definitive compendium of his work. The book came about when New York art gallery owner Chris Murray took his blues-loving son on a swing through the South. In Waterman's adopted hometown of Oxford, Miss., the pair saw some great photos at a local gallery; their inquiries led them to Waterman.
For his own part, Waterman cares less about his rising profile as an artist than exposure afforded the artists he shot. He's just glad he can still serve the musicians he used to — only in a different way.
"There's a tendency to make all of these old men into the same kindly, benevolent person. But they all had textured personalities — some were gracious, and some were bitter or whatever," he says. "I knew them as distinctly different people, and I should pass that information on if I can provide an anecdote or story so you'll see the music a little differently, understand what these people are all about, then that's what I'm going to do."
Last week, Hub bartender Scooter was hassling me about all the dead venues that got left out of our "Requiem for a Live Room" piece that ran in the Southeastern Music Issue. The next morning, I came to work to find out Ybor City's Green Room is kaput. Go figure. Many and much thanks to Jim Saurman, Keith Works, The Skatepark of Tampa and everybody else who helped keep the place, and its impeccable live sound, going for as long as they could.
Contact Music Critic Scott Harrell at 813-739-4856, or by e-mail at [email protected].