Rules are made to be broken; I’m reviewing a film here that I’ve got an executive producer credit on. It’s a documentary by Jim Burns, who I met when I programmed his BMX Bandits documentary Serious Drugs for a festival many moons ago. Jim contacted me back in the carefree days of January 2020 to show me a rough cut, and when I saw it, I jumped at the chance to get involved as an executive producer.
It’s Not All Rock & Roll is a documentary about musician, song-writer, model, troubadour and all round rock monster Dave Doughman, whose band Swearing at Motorists have been a staple of Hamburg’s music scene. The film may well be of interest to the band’s many fans, but while I really dug Doughman’s music, the film worked for me as a hang-out movie. We see Doughman’s stage act, but also his day job, working a fork-lift truck on the docks, and also explores his personal stance on life, and his relationship with his son. It’s a portrait of an artist as a hard-working man; like many creative, Doughman has talent to burn, but has to work hard to create the platform to shine, and Burns captures the precise nature of his struggle.
It’s Not All Rock & Roll was shot before the pandemic, and captures a world that I miss; packed venues, sticky floors, the clinking of beer-bottles and the sweaty friction of a live gig. Burns follows Doughman on a trip to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and there’s an absolutely jaw-dropping scene when Doughman gets up-close and personal with an unruly pool-player in a tough bar. Fed up with the noise of the game disrupting his gig, Doughman grabs for the cue ball and refuses to give it back, sparking an incendiary confrontation. There’s more drama in this scene than in most entire movies, and it cuts to the quick of the kind of obstacles that face all performers. With the UK government encouraging artists to retrain as a way of solving their economic issues during the pandemic, Burns’ film is a timely reminder that creative people worldwide have to fight for the right to practice their art.
After screening in Hamburg last month, we’d attempted to book this into a number of cinemas, but the pandemic put paid to that. Fortunately the film was picked up by the UK-wide Doc n’ Roll festival, and screens on the platform for a week from this Sunday. It’s a great little rock and roll experience, I’m proud to be involved with it, and I’d love to hear from anyone who watches it. As always, link is below; if you can see it, enjoy!