Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Banded Together: The Boys From Glen Rock High - Learn How Director Barry Rubinow Created this Documentary on The Path of Some Very Successful Musicians

Director Barry Rubinow's feature documentary Banded Together: The Boys from Glen Rock High has been making headlines as it screens in the NYC area and will be a featured documentary at the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival in Ridgewood, NJ on April 27th, 2023. The film is for any music lover, it is aptly described as a "
heartwarming, uplifting documentary feature film, providing a window into the lives of eight talented individuals as they go from gifted teenagers to successful professional musicians...playing alongside jazz, blues and rock legends." Viewers may recognize many of the featured people in the doc, including Uncle Floyd, the Vivino Brothers, Conan O'Brien and more.

SBTS: How would you describe your documentary feature and what is the message/feeling you want the viewer to walk away with?

Barry Rubinow: This documentary became much more than the story of these 8 musicians.  Their music teacher, Joe Sielski, was a revelation to me.  I knew he was their teacher and I wanted to interview him and have him be part of the story, but I didn’t know that they all give him credit for starting them on their careers.  The love and respect between Joe and the guys became central to the film, as well as the love of the town, and the love and nurturing of their families.  It’s a very positive message of camaraderie, bonding, diligence, nostalgia, craftsmanship, the importance of community, and the importance of music and the arts in education and life in general.  


SBTS: What is your history of filmmaking? I see that you have worked on sound for some impressive movies... how did you morph into being a director? 

Barry Rubinow: I’ve always been a filmmaker.  I started in the 8th grade making little films and have never stopped.  Professionally I was attracted to editing because I enjoy working in a quiet environment by myself when I’m doing intense creative work.  I still enjoy editing more than directing.  When you’re on the set, there are countless distractions and anxiety provoking situations, like dealing with people….  :), and the elements, and all sorts of unknowns. Editing is total creative immersion.

I worked as a sound editor for quite a few years early in my career mainly because I wasn’t able to get on to big films and tv shows as a picture editor, and some of my friends from film school were working as sound editors at a company that was doing major shows, and they needed help there.

SBTS: How long did it take you to make this feature? How many hours of footage did you shoot? Did you get cooperation from the band?

Barry Rubinow: For a feature documentary, this film came together very quickly.  The band gave me full cooperation right from the start, and without that, I couldn’t have made it.  Being very close friends with two of the band members who were in my grade helped, and they also knew my brother, who played sax and clarinet in high school.  

From start of preproduction to the finishing of editing was less than two years.  Of course, you’re never done making a film.  It’s like having a kid.  You hope that it eventually gets its own apartment and moves out of the house, but you’re never finished.  :)

SBTS: What would you say are some of the most interesting facts that the viewer will find in the movie?

Barry Rubinow: The story of how Jimmy and Jerry Vivino became leaders of Conan O’Brien’s band is an interesting story that is not well known.  I think all of their stories have interesting and surprising aspects, like how Frank Pagano got turned onto classical music and jazz from listening to Frank Zappa, to how Jerry failed as a guitarist and his Dad had him try clarinet as a last resort.

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SBTS: What are your next projects?

Barry Rubinow: I am working on a short project about a local group here in LA that plants oak trees in the hills outside of town to battle climate change. I’m also helping relaunch The Documentary Channel, where I worked for 10 years earlier in my career.  It was bought out and disbanded, and now the original owners are trying to bring it back.  I think it could be successful seeing how popular documentaries have become over the years.

Some Lightning Round Questions

Favorite Movies

The obvious 5: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Sunset Boulevard, Dr. Strangelove

The less obvious 5: It’s a Wonderful Life, Paths of Glory, Duck Soup, Take the Money and Run, Amarcord

Inspiring Documentaries

'Hearts of Darkness', about the making of “Apocalypse Now,” is the best documentary I’ve ever seen.

‘Harlan County USA,’ Barbara Kopple’s documentary about the coal miners’ strike in Kentucky, showed me that documentaries could be as compelling as the best dramatic feature film, except it was all 100% real.  An incredible film, should be seen by any prospective documentary filmmaker.

Favorite Artists

Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Jethro Tull, Elvis Costello, B-52s, The Clash.

Best Concert Ever

Talking Heads, the same concert that was filmed for the “Stop Making Sense” film.
Advice for an Aspiring Documentary Filmmaker

Shoot, shoot, shoot,….cut, cut, cut.  Yes, it’s important to see as many films as you can, of all genres, and from all countries,….and it’s important to read about films and filmmaking and interviews with great filmmakers, but it’s most important to do it yourself as much as you can.  It’s also important to lead an interesting life, have great friends, push the envelope personally, so that you have something interesting to make films about.  Go for it, don’t hesitate