Within 24 hours of launching an Indiegogo campaign for A Fat Wreck: The Punk-u-mentary, a documentary on San Francisco-based Fat Wreck Chords, filmmaker Shaun Colón, surpassed his $7,500 goal with cash to spare. Now, two weeks later, Colón has tripled his initial goal. The Indiegogo campaign launched Tuesday, March 25, and is live for 21 more days ending April 30.
Each week, for the next three weeks, Colón and his team plan to launch new perks in hopes of attracting fresh interest in the campaign so that they can up the production value of their film and provide better perks to donators. For instance, this week saw the announcement of an A Fat Wreck skateboard made in collaboration with Say-10 Records.
The film explores the 20 year history of Fat Wreck Chords, the influential punk label home to NOFX, Propaghandi, and Good Riddance. Colón, who plays punk music himself, works as a marketing development director for the talent development school The Septien Group, and he also runs Dang!Records. Colón took the time to speak with SF Weekly about the ethos that inspired the film, his plans to shoot at the Fat Wreck Chords offices in San Francisco, and why 40-year-old punks still go to shows.
A Fat Wreck (film) Tease and Indiegogo Pitch Video from [open-ended] films on Vimeo.
So you're doing this documentary, A Fat Wreck. Obviously you are a fan of punk, but are you specifically a fan of Fat Wreck Chords-style punk?
Oh yeah! I wear the uniform, dude. I pretty much played in bands since my sophomore year of high school. It's not on purpose, but how I dress, I look like Joey Cape (Lagwagon): Converse shoes, regular Levi's, and a band shirt. I hope Joey doesn't read this (laughs). I'm in all black, so I look a little metal right now, actually.
What sparked the punk passion?
I started reading all of the books on Nirvana, and one of the things that came out was how into punk rock Kurt Cobain was. That was the initial seed of the punk thing. But the first punk rock show I went to was to see The Queers. The thing that blew my mind was that Joe Queer came down and talked to everybody after the show. I had never seen a band interact with everybody like. From that moment I was hooked. I already liked the music, but then I saw there was a realness to it.
Not only did you break your original Indiegogo goal of $7,500 within 24 hours, but now you've surpassed $22K, and have been launching new perks each week. How's everything going?
It's been a whirlwind. For Indiegogo, we wanted to do a compilation of bands doing Fat Wreck Chords covers. Because I run Dang!Records, I know a lot of bands, a few of which will be on there. We left five slots open for bands that want to be a part of the physical version, which is the competition on Indiegogo. The entire track list hasn't been released yet, but we're also releasing a digital version that has songs from more than 100 bands that submitted tracks.
Because of the success, we are doing a double 12-inch vinyl. We got more money than we needed, so we want to pump that back into making something really cool: color vinyl and really cool layouts. The top voted band's cover is going to be the only cover that ends up in the film. We're also going to have shirts, and anyone who claims a physical perk will get stickers and buttons automatically.
Did you imagine that the popularity of the documentary would escalate to this level so quickly?
To me, Fat Wreck Chords showed that if you want to do something you can do things on your own terms. They were able to carve out their own community. The internet wasn't what it is now. In order to find new bands, people trusted Fat Wreck Chords catalog -- even if they hadn't heard [the bands] yet. I think that's a part of the early success of the Indiegogo campaign.
I had five people from around the world give me $1,000. The executive producer in Japan is helping us with the translation, and a gentleman from California is hooking us up in Berkeley -- he's talking about [setting] up a show to get footage of Gilman Street. They are not just executive producers, they believe in it enough to actually get involved with the film, which I think is great. And I think that level of trust is inherent in the Fat Wreck Chords ethos.
When did you know this was going to be something big?
One thing we do here at Septien Group is that, at the end of the school year, we put our top performers in front of industry people. I looked at the list of people coming, and I saw the name Ryan Greene. I look it up, and it's the same Ryan Greene who did all of the Fat Wreck Chords records in the '90s. He and Mike started the studio together, and he was the engineer that helped shape that sound -- that Fat sound. That was a sign that this documentary could be bigger than I thought, because I then had half of what the Fat Wreck Chords' sound was: the technical sound. We did a 30-minute long interview. I felt that I had something I could show people, and that's when I cut the first teaser, and included him in it to show it was a legitimate production. That's how things escalated.
You'd been shooting the documentary for almost a year already. Why did you wait to launch the Indiegogo campaign?
The original plan was to interview just some friends -- I know some people who run blogs, like Dave Buck from Dying Scene and Lisa Root from New Noise. I figured it would be cool to do a short, 10-12 minute film of the impact that Fat Wreck Chords has had on its fans. After interviewing Ryan Greene, I knew I had to go for Fat Mike. I sent him the teaser, and he said it looked cool. I saw they were coming through Dallas, so I asked him if he would be willing to do an interview. And he gave me an interview, a really great heartfelt interview.
Once I had Fat Mike, it seemed like it was a no-brainer to go out to California to get to the Fat offices. I really, really wanted to talk to Erin Burkett because I think that's a story that hasn't been told. Erin is still running the day-to-day of Fat; she started the label with MIke. I had to take a crew out to California, and that's why we did the Indiegogo campaign. I wanted to make sure we had cool perks, so when I did my calculations, I figured we only needed $7,500 to get the people out there and do what we needed to do.
What are you doing with the all of the extra money that you've received?
What we're doing is getting nicer equipment so that our production value goes up. Justin Wilson, a director of photography who edited Filmage
, is coming out to California with us. He set the bar for what a punk-rock documentary could be, it was cinematically pleasing, with a great story arch that made for a great film. That's the bar that I'm at now.
What is the purpose of A Fat Wreck? What do you hope to accomplish?
Me, I'm a Fat fan. You know: Lagwagon, Propagandhi and all those bands. For the rest of my life, until I keel over, those will be my favorite bands. And I know there are a lot of people that feel that way. I want to be able to show why we feel that way, so that people, who weren't a part of it, can understand why we love it so much. It's why people, who were 15 back then, are still going out to Punk Rock Bowling in their 30s and 40s, and why these bands are still putting out records. I want to create something [fans] can show their kids. This was something that was real. It wasn't fabricated to make a bunch of money. I think that sticks with people for the rest of their lives.