Way too long in the making, the idea for this 2:54min hybrid (aka my short documentary photo essay music video flipbook film) was semi-hatched when I reconnected with musician Chuck E. Weiss after not seeing him since the Troubadour/Tropicana days. He invited me to his show at the Piano Bar in Hollywood. I took some photos and was so inspired by the show and the energy of the crowd that I asked Chuck E. if I could do a photo essay on him.
Not really knowing what a photo essay was myself, I told him I'd like follow him around for whatever time he could spare and take some candid photographs. He said yes! and invited me to meet up at his place. I spent a few hours documenting a day in the life (you may be surprised) and recording a couple of sound bites along the way for no particular reason. At this point I still had no idea what I was doing with all this but I knew I wanted to bask some more in the aura of Chuck E. Weiss. I took a friend to see him at the Piano Bar so I could turn her on to his brilliance (she was duly turned on) and brought my camera to shoot more photos I thought I might need for whatever this photo essay would become. That included Chuck E. arriving at the venue and some backstage stuff. And for no specific reason I pulled out my iPhone and recorded a song and some random banter. Again, there was no real plan. No script. No outline. No structure. Just my desire to shed some light on this very special person who was always nice to me back in the day when I transplanted from Vancouver to Los Angeles where I knew no one.
Then came the editing phase. I basically tossed all the photos into Final Cut and put a portion of the song on it. This process was without thought or purpose. I was just trying to create a photo essay, still not really knowing what a photo essay was. And in my judgment it was a mess, but I still went ahead and showed it to a few people. And much to my surprise, they thought it was really cool. (Tip of the day: Make it black and white and people will think it's cool) At that point I decided I owed it to Chuck E. to make something out of this mess...something that would show how amazing he is as a musician and performer, but more important >>> how cool and authentic he is as a human being.
I'm embarrassed by the amount of time that has passed since I started this little personal project - it should have been finished a long time ago. But I also believe that every project has its time and, hopefully, this one is better late than never and it will find an audience and turn some people on to Chuck E. Weiss. Maybe if you are in Los Angeles or going to be there, this little film will entice you to see him play live. It's well worth your effort to experience him on stage. Or maybe you'll want to check out (and buy) his new album Red Beans and Weiss <<great title. It's available on the Tom Waits Official Store (choice of CD or double album vinyl!) and iTunes. It's also streaming, along with an interview at American Songwriter.