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It’s Not All Rock & Roll

‘…a portrait of an artist as a hard-working man…’

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!


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  1. Bravo to you. I was a musician. There was a July bar gig in the 80s when some idiot let off firecrackers in the bar. It was not good. Fire? No, someone stopped the guy. It could have been a disaster. I love documentaries about musicians!

  2. .

    While I obviously haven’t seen this, how you describe the little bit of the billiards scene got me thinking. From Doughman’s perspective, he’s the point. From the players perspective though, they’re there to drink and have fun and any “music” is just background noise. I find myself in agreement with them more than him. Now, if it had been a venue where people paid to hear/see Doughman exclusively, then I’d definitely be siding with him. If I go to hear a symphony, I don’t want the yobs in the next booth to distract me with playing youtube videos or something. But if I went down to my local watering hole to hangout with my buds and some jackass took my pool cue away, chances are pretty good things would end up with the cops being called. And the owner of the establishment having to choose between paying customers and a musician.

    I’m glad I’m not an artist. I do have the temperament for one though.

    • I get your point; I’ve been annoyed when you arrange to meet someone and a jazz band start playing in the next booth. Having watched this scene a few times, I’m with Dave on this one; the pool players next door are spoiling the gig for the majority of paying punters, although I simply would not have have the cojones to do what Dave does here. It escalates very dramatically, and makes for an intense scene. But we also see it in the context of what it’s like to play gigs in all manner of places, and fight to have others listen to and respect your work.

      I have noted your artistic temprement and adjusted myself accordingly.

      • I don’t see many arteests surviving if they don’t have that “fight” attitude in one way or another. They’re the only person they have to standup for them. So if they don’t standup for themselves, nobody else will and nobody else will care either.

        And that is why I can’t be an arteest. I care that nobody cares. I need the loving adulation of millions without one dissenting voice, or I’m toast. And I appreciate you taking my temperament into consideration. When the Revolution comes, I’ll put in a good word so you’re not lined up against the wall 😉

        • Thanks. Don’t you never get dissenting voices on your blog, other than mine? I totally agree with what you say about artists needing to fight for their rights to create their art. And that’s one of the things I liked about Dave and his story; he’s got that willingness to force the issue and get heard, and I for one find it inspiring.

          • I squash dissent on my blog like cockroaches. I want an echo chamber, thank you very much 😉

            There are definitely times I wish I was more assertive in real life but then I realize how tiring it would be to fight everybody, all the time, about everything. Just typing that up and thinking about it exhausts me.

            So I’ll let the lions roar from within my blogposts and that’s about it 😀

  3. Swearing at Motorists…that has to be one of the coolest band names that I have ever heard! 😂 So awesome to hear you had an executive producers role in this film😀 Even though this isn’t my kind of thing, I do think it’s important films/documentaries like this are being made. In these trying times, it’s especially hard for artists to make money. So all I can say is well done spreading the news for this one!😀

    • I was ready for a NOPE! It’s a gift to be sent a movie that really requires no tinkering, just a bit of protection, and the subject matter is really compelling. I’ve guides a couple of low-budget movies to audiences before, and it’s a rewarding thing to get behind talented people and help they get their film out!

    • A good question. I don’t stand making coffee on set at 6am as the camera team arrives, although some do. In this case, it’s about supporting the film-maker, getting the DCP tested, figuring out the distribution method for the film, setting up imdb, diversity docs, fighting piracy, all kinds of things. It’s my third feature exec credit, and it’s never the same job twice.

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