Denise Mercedes interviews
Danny Garcia Filmmaker / Rock Documentarian
“SAD VACATION” The Last Days of Sid & Nancy
Premiere in U.S. cities and internationally during the months of
November, December & January
Danny Garcia is the celebrated Catalonian Spanish filmmaker who has carved a rising name for himself in the world of rock documentaries with his prior and well-received undertakings “The Rise and Fall of the Clash” (2012); and “Looking for Johnny” (2014), about the life of the New York Dolls influential guitarist and much imitated persona Johnny Thunders (RIP 1991).
In true Punk/DIY tradition, Danny Garcia wanted to make films -- and did just that -- without formal training or funding. Just do it – and do it great. And we’re the lucky ones for it because his artistic determination and motivations, attention to detail, talent, and search for the truth has given a deeper, richer meaning and understanding into the lives and creative impacts of his chosen subjects who grow larger in death than in life.
“Sad Vacation” is the latest highly anticipated and third rock documentary film by Danny Garcia to be released and make U.S. and international debuts during November & December, 2016. It is about charismatic and troubled musician Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie) and his equally exasperating heroin addicted girlfriend Nancy Spungen in their final gloomy days together in New York City. Sid was the U.K.’s notorious Sex Pistols chaotic bassist who instantly became the permanent iconic poster boy of Punk Rock with his spiked up hair, famous sneer, leather jacket, and legendary misbehaviors. Also, that he could not play the bass at all but looked great doing it (which encouraged legions to pick up an instrument themselves) added to the allure.
Danny Garcia’s documentary explores Sid and Nancy's fateful trip to New York in 1978. It is a film that is dedicated to presenting the real facts; told as it happened by their friends and those who witnessed it. It is a film about the dynamics of Sid and Nancy's tumultuous relationship, and how it all ended in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel.
"Sad Vacation" includes interviews with those who were there on the underground music scene and had close interactions with Sid and Nancy during the final New York chapter: Roberta Bayley, Steve "Roadent" Conolly, Donna Destri, Kenny "Stinker" Gordon, Bob Gruen, John Holmstrom, Hellin Killer, Walter Lure, Honest John Plain, Howie Pyro, Cynthia Ross, Andy Shernoff, Gaye Black, CasinoSteel, Phyllis Stein, Sylvain Sylvain; in addition to the late Leee Black Childers. Three key residents of the Chelsea Hotel also share their stories: Victor Colicchio, "Neon" Leon Matthews, and Ned Van Zandt, who had a lot to say about the events that took place on October 12th 1978. Drawing upon their reflections and a batch of newly-released Grand Jury documents, "Sad Vacation" presents a solid timeline of events for the very first time.
Narrated by Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin' Criminals), "Sad Vacation" contains unseen photography of Sid and Nancy. There is music from The Heartbreakers, The Boys, The Members, Neon Leon, Pure Hell, Sami Yaffa, Luigi & The Wiseguys, Skafish, Corazones Muertos, The PrimaDonna Reeds, Supla, Silke Berlinn & The Addictions, and, Sid Vicious himself.
Photography, Richard Mann
(c) 2016 Chip Baker Films
What prompted you to take on the story of Sid and Nancy’s end times in New York City?
While I was making “Looking for Johnny” I started to interview people talking about Sid and Nancy on the side, only because I wanted to share the stories they were telling me off camera. These short interviews were meant to be uploaded to my blog or website or whatever, and that's why I was doing them on my Smartphone. The thing is, after I interviewed Leee Black Childers and Bob Gruen I realized this was another documentary in itself. Then one day I was talking to Peter Perrett and he mentioned the Thunders' song "Sad Vacation" and I thought that was a perfect title and that's how all this started. The title ultimately gave me the direction to follow. So all this is thanks to Johnny Thunders really.
How did the pieces fall into place for the making of “Sad Vacation?” Was it a different process than for putting together your previous rock films or do you now have a ‘Danny Garcia formula’ that works in creating your great documentaries?
The process was longer because I was doing this on the side while making” LFJ” and also because suddenly I was not making a music documentary anymore. It was a music documentary plus a murder investigation. And I had never done that before.
Was one of your initial intentions for this new film, to try to get additional thoughts or insights on who else might be responsible for Nancy Spungen’s murder from those that knew the couple vs. what the newspapers all reported and then closed the case immediately? It’s been 38 years already …
Originally I wasn't trying to solve a murder mystery. That's what happened once this experiment I was carrying on became “Sad Vacation.” I've spent a couple of years studying the case with the help of co-writer Brett Dunford and watching endless crime murder mystery programs, to figure out how to tell such a story with so much drama on film.
Were you surprised by anything you discovered about Sid or Nancy from people being interviewed in the making of the film?
Of course. Who knew Nancy loved spending countless hours in Harrods? There's a lot of stuff in it that I never knew about them, plus funny anecdotes, and we've also managed to unearth lots of unreleased photography of Sid and Nancy.
“Sad Vacation” will be having several premiers during November, both in the U.S. and abroad. Can you tell us where and when? I know Kenny Gordon of Pure Hell will be the celebrity host at the Philly opening, his hometown. Kenny’s band played on the historic bill at Max’s for Sid’s final two shows.
The US premiere will be in LA at The Regent a week earlier, but Philly is not only Nancy's hometown, but also one of my favorite cities -- and I have a bunch of friends there. So it's always a must for me to have my films shown in Philly.
Is “Sad Vacation” going to have other theatrical releases, like one to take place in New York City? Where else will it be screened?
Yes definitely. The film will be screened in San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Boston, New Orleans, Tokyo, Toronto's Reel Film Festival, London's Doc'n Roll Film Festival and we're working on other cities as we speak.
Los Angeles, CA, The Regent 11/9
San Jose, Ca, The Ritz 11/12
London , UK, Doc'n Roll Film Fest 11/6
San Francisco, CA, The Roxie 11/16
Anchorage, AK, Koot’s 11/17
Philadelphia, PA, MOCA 11/18
Toronto, ON, Reel Indie Film Fest 11/18
Norwich, UK, Norwich Arts Centre, 11/18
Wash., D.C., Black Cat, 11/19
New Orleans, LA, Zeitgeist 11/19- 21
Dallas, TX, Texas Theatre 11/20
New York, St. Vitus, Brooklyn 11/23
Austin, TX- North Door, 11/27
Nottingham, UK, Broadway Cinema 12/2
Boston, MA-The Regent Theatre Arlington 12/9-15
Tokyo, JP - Sinjyuku K’s cinema + Shibuya Eurospace 12/17
Portland, OR, Hollywood Theater 1/14
Manchester, UK, Home 1/21
Will there be a sound-track album available for fans as well as the movie poster?
I can't say at present time, but that's our intention because the soundtrack is something else. Besides The Heartbreakers and The Boys who contribute a few songs each, there are gems by Pure Hell, The Members, Sami Yaffa, Luigi &The Wiseguys, Supla, Silke Berlinn and many more. The poster will be included inside the DVD. So if you get the DVD you get the poster.
I found “The Rise and Fall of the Clash” to be one of the most engrossing and disturbing rock documentaries I’ve ever seen. This pulling back of the curtain and showing all the ugly warts, scars, and bad choices made during their seemingly very successful career was certainly eye-opening and even, a classic cautionary tale as well. I put your film “Rise and Fall of the Clash” on equal footing with my favorite rock documentary “New York Doll” – the bittersweet account of the supremely important and also ultimately tragic life story of New York Dolls founding member and bassist, Arthur “Killer” Kane (RIP 2004).
How long did it take you to make this no-holds-barred Clash film, and how was it funded?
A couple of years working on it and a couple of years waiting to get the music rights. It was funded via private investors.
Johnny Thunders was the legendary hard-living rock & roll guitarist who inspired glam-metal, punk and the music scene in general. “Looking For Johnny” is your 90-minute film that documents Thunders' career from his beginnings to his untimely death at 38 in New Orleans, 1991. What was it about Johnny Thunders that made you want to create this film homage to him?
Thanks to “The Rise and Fall of the Clash” taking forever, I had a lot of time sitting on my ass thinking: "what am I going to do next once this nightmare is over?" And the next thing you know its 2012 and I'm shooting a Johnny Thunders documentary. Johnny was a great artist and he deserved a documentary that spoke about the person as well as the great songwriter that he was.
It’s my understanding that you also make films on different subjects – even Spaghetti Westerns. Where are all of your films available for viewing or purchase?
We love westerns at Chip Baker Films and we're embarked on different projects besides music documentaries. Right now we're finishing a new western called “The Price of Death” -- and we already have one out available on itunes and Google play called “6 Bullets to Hell” which is also coming out on DVD and VOD in the US in early 2017.
We at musicrealms thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to do this interview, and really look forward to seeing “Sad Vacation” – and any other films you create down the line.
Writer Denise Mercedes: Founder/guitarist of The Stimulators. Artist Endorsed by Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden Tribute work: Former lead guitarist of Girls Girls Girls (2006-2016) and Bible Black NYC *An original project in the works.
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