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Interview With American Indie Filmmaker Scott Rosenbaum

As he packs his bags for the Czech Republic to attend the Opening Night Gala screening of his film THE PERFECT AGE OF ROCK N ROLL as the kick-off event for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Zlin Film Festival on Monday evening, I had a chance to talk with the film's director Scott Rosenbaum about his American indie rock n roll drama. Rosenbaum, who also is serving on the jury for the Official Competition, is primed for his Zlin adventure.

Sandy Mandelberger (SM): When did the idea of making a rock and roll film come to you? What in your personal background made you interested in this story?

Scott Rosenbaum (SR): It’s been an accumulation of a lifelong love of rock music, playing in bands myself and seeing THE LAST WALTZ (the Martin Scorsese music documentary) maybe one hundred times. Being a drummer in bands since I was 12 or 13 had a lot to do with understanding the dynamics of those complicated relationships. Being exposed to rock music at a very early age by uncles and cousins that were into The Band, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles got me hooked on music. When I was about three, I grabbed the stick and started wailing on it until I split the tom-tom’s drum skin. My uncle wasn’t happy, but I had the bug for music at that point.

SM: The film has a great cast of hot indie talents and veterans. How did the casting come together? How did you get the interest of people like Peter Fonda, Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Lukas Haas and Kelly Lynch?

SR: Jason and Kevin came out of brief but intense casting sessions in LA. I went out there looking forward to discussing the film with Kevin. I had seen him in TRANSAMERICA and thought he was one of the best young actors in Hollywood. I met Jason during the casting call as well and was very surprised by him. As soon as he sat down and we started talking I knew he was right for the role. I could tell he understood the character and would bring a lot of authentic experience to the role. He loves music with a passion and he plays guitar and bass in bands. As far as Peter Fonda, Lukas Haas, Kelly Lynch, Billy Dee Williams, Ruby Dee and James Ransone, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to get the script in their hands and they responded to the roles.

SM: When did production start and what were the biggest challenges in getting the project going?

SR: The film went into pre-production in the spring of 2008 and we shot throughout that summer. I think the biggest of many challenges was just getting the project up and running to begin with. I had been writing and re-writing, and work shopping the script for about seven years by the time we finally started shooting. But having the experience to make this film was well worth the trials.

SM: Was it always your intention to integrate older musicians (like Sugar Blue) into the film and what was important about that element of the story for you?

SR: The impact the blues has had on the evolution of rock n roll had consistently become a more prominent theme in the story as I went through all the rewrites. In the final rewrites Jason and I conceived of the “blues bar” scene and I once again put in all these great blues musicians who had played with such giants as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. It was an amazing experience having those men perform live for us and for the cameras in that scene. You typically don’t shoot live performance when the performance is so integral to the narrative of the film. These guys insisted on only playing live as opposed to playback.

SM: Where did the film premiere and tell us your favorite film festival experience so far (aside from the Opening Night for the Zlin Film Festival)?

SR: The film premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival. We were thrilled to win an award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking. We were at the Woodstock Film Festival, where we reassembled the blues band to perform at the film’s after party. We were at the CMJ Music and Film Festival in New York and the Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia, which was fantastic. Each festival has been great for us in their unique ways.

SM: How is the film finding audiences in the USA and internationally?

SR: We are in the midst of the distribution conversation right now, so aside from the handful of festivals, nobody has seen the film. The festivals have been great for us to get a sense of how audiences around the world will react to this story. It’s been incredibly gratifying to get such a strong positive reaction from such a diverse audience.

SM: What are you working on for your next project?

SR: My producer Joseph White and I are working on a dramatic concert film that focuses on the six great bluesmen that have become known as “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues Band”. After having worked with these great men in the feature, we just fell in love with them and were already in love with the music. It was clear that there was more of this story to tell. We want to do a documentary piece that celebrates the rich history these men have and the great musical legacy that they represent. We have started shooting interviews and performances already. We’ve had such incredible guest stars already, like Tim Reynolds of The Dave Matthews Band, Elvin Bishop, Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship and Robby Krieger of The Doors came out and played with these blues legends. We are just thrilled to be able to roll a camera on this important and fleeting story.

To view the fllm’s trailer, visit:

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