“March to the beat of your own drum,” advises the tagline to writer-director Ari Gold’s rock-comedy, Adventures of Power. “Even if you don’t have one.” It’s an apt lesson to take away from a movie about air drumming. Power—played by Gold—grew up in a mill town but finds that air drumming is his passion, so he takes to the road to realize his dream. But this is a movie that’s not just about air drumming and good music—it’s about discovering your potential and being yourself. That it features an air drumming competition is just a bonus.
Gold has chronicled some of the difficulties he faced while making Adventures of Power on the movie’s blog, Powerthepower.com. He took the time to answer MovieMaker‘s questions about some of these difficulties, the movies that inspired him and what he’ll be working on next.
Rebecca Pahle (MM): Adventures of Power is about being true to yourself and not letting others getting in the way of your dreams. What made you explore those themes through the medium of a rock and roll comedy about an air drummer?
Ari Gold (AG): Ever since I heard the band Rush, at age eight, I’ve been an air-drummer, so the comedy of a character perpetually “dreaming of drumming” was personal for me. But I think the film speaks to anyone who has a dream that they think is out of their reach. My protagonist, Power, thinks he’s a failure because he can’t afford drums; the movie is his journey to realizing that the drums are already inside him. If you live in the inner city and wish you had a horse, the message of the movie is the same. The spirit of a horse may be in you, too! But in my case, I also just think air-drumming looks funny.
MM: I read on the Adventures of Power blog that you had some frustration while casting the movie. What are your thoughts on the casting process?
AG: Unfortunately, we have a star-driven system where movies are financed and marketed based on the names in the cast. So when you’re trying to make an independent film, you’re told to pack “names” into the movie. Sometimes these name-actors are perfect for a part, but sometimes you really don’t know, and because you’re a lowly filmmaker, you don’t have the right to audition the actors. So you have to guess. Fortunately, for my film, I had no doubt about the name-actors I ended up casting in the movie, and for the parts where I had doubts, I was able to find brilliant, less-known (or amateur) actors through traditional auditions. I have huge respect for all human beings with the guts to come audition. Corralling a cast like this, often at the last minute, is terribly stressful, but I was happy with the results even though I didn’t sleep much.
MM: You also had some trouble while filming in Utah with the weather not cooperating. How do you adapt when things that are out of your control threaten to halt your shoot? How do you deal with the stress of things not going right?
AG: The most important advice I got was from my brother, reminding me to have fun, and from a director I know in Germany, who said that if I went to bed every night knowing I’d given it all I got, the gods would take care of me. I gave it all I got for four years, and now, with a team of wonderful volunteers who love the movie helping to get the word out, the “gods” are indeed taking care of me. But you do have to be an improviser, on-set and in the editing room, when nothing goes according to the script in your head. The weather was not on our side, but maybe it was just testing my faith! I had good collaborators and an epic, pro-union power plant to shoot in, so in ways I was very lucky.
MM: Were there any movies that inspired you as you were making Adventures of Power?
AG: Babe for its sweet humor, and for the way it gives an absurd premise (pig wants to be a sheep-dog) true spiritual resonance. Repo Man for the otherworldly reality it plays as “real,” and the undercurrent of political commentary it sneaks into its own wacky universe. Both films also look beautiful, have a fantastic sense of place and every minor character could be the center of the story. I wanted my alternate universe to also have this kind of richness.
MM: Do you have any plans in the works for another movie? What will you be working on next?
AG: I have eight other screenplays I’ve written, including one that takes place in the Serbian war, and one about a chicken. Which I make first depends on whether I can convince anyone that my chicken actor or my Serb actor is a bankable star.
Adventures of Power opens October 9, 2009. Visit http://www.adventuresofpower.com for more information.