Mignatti, whose other documentary work includes ACLU: 75th Anniversary and MTV’s The Real World Brooklyn, approached this project cinema verite style. Over a four and a half year period he filmed in LA, New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Nyack and Long Island. The 300 hours of video and audio from which the film is drawn was captured almost entirely by Mignatti as a one man crew. The only time he used assistants or additional crew was during scenes involving large crowds, such as nightclubs, casinos and other public spaces where large numbers of appearance releases needed to be obtained.
At first, sound was captured using only the on-camera microphone, but as the production progressed and the budget increased, additional audio equipment was added. Mignatti also edited the film himself, using Final Cut Pro.
This Time moves back and forth between its three subjects with Peitor Angell providing perspective and a sympathetic, but frank, evaluation of the work of the artists. The film helps us see into and understand the production process, promotion, and the interpersonal relationships which can often be the key for success, failure or just treading water.
We see The Sweets dealing with a stroke, egos, and less than forthcoming record companies. Hodges, who has a truly memorable voice, finds a home, but struggles with health and motivation issues. Belfry must balance his pure singing career with the demands of his “day job” as a singing bartender and laments over “fans” who promise to show up, but never do.
These touching stories are complremented by musical performances that will stick with you.
The film, at 111 minutes, felt a little long, but by the time it neared its conclusion, I felt connected to all three stories and wanted to know what happened to each of these talented artists. I think you will, too.
This Time will be available July 26, 2011, on iTunes and as a Special Features DVD, which contains an additional thirty minutes of stories about music legends.