AN INTERVIEW WITH BOB SARLES
DIRECTOR OF THE NEW JEFFERSON AIRPLANE DVD



Bob Sarles had graciously invited all the fans of Jefferson Airplane to e-mail questions regarding the production of Jefferson Airplanes DVD "FLY". Thanks to everyone who helped us conduct this interview. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as we do.  

 


"Fly" Jefferson Airplane is enjoyable on many levels. It really captures the spirit of the time as seen through the eyes of Jefferson Airplane, their friends and extended family. Special care was used to restore the musical tracks (as you will see in the interview) and the images are as fresh as the music is a wonder. For those that never had the chance to see Jefferson Airplane be assured that these guys will show you how Rock and Roll is done, well done. This Band really cooked! Every track would be as equally at home on MTV today as they were decades ago on the Smother's Brothers show. Bob and the folks at Ravin' Films have compiled an instant classic.

Please check out the press release below the Interview. If you have not picked up a copy of this excellent film you may purchase a copy of this DVD from our friends at Amazon by using the link to the left.

 


1. First of all Bob, tell us a little bit about your background. How did you become a film maker?
Bob Sarles - Producer and Director of "Fly"
 Growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York in the sixties, I watched way too much television as a kid. At a very early age I had absorbed a literacy of story telling through images from watching shows like The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, The Fugitive and M Squad. The tube, AM radio, and MAD Magazine were my portals to popular culture. I also loved going to the movies, and listened to the latest records, usually purchased by my older brother and sister. When the Beatles' 'White Album' came out I was entranced by the Revolution Number Nine track. With my friend Eliot Morrison, who lived down the street from me and had access to his step-dad's reel to reel stereo tape recorder, we began making sound montages of our own. We discovered an old 8mm film camera in his basement and began shooting rolls of film. We'd film anything: dogs, friends, siblings. We'd try and act out Beatles songs on film. Sometimes we'd ride our bikes to the edge of the Buffalo airport runway and shoot jets taking off and landing. This was around 1969. 
Eventually I got my own Super-8 camera, an editing machine and a projector and my silly films got a bit more sophisticated. I made claymation, pixilation and stop motion experiments. I'd make a film about pollution for a science fair exhibit. I began being aware of the documentaries of the Maysels Brothers, Fred Wiseman, and DA Pennebaker. I was also exposed to the experimental films of Bruce Conner, Ed Emshwiller, Stan Brackage and video works by the Woody & Steina Valsulka and Naim June Paik. I got my hands on the earliest porta-pak video gear in the early seventies and experimented with that. Of course I saw all those great movies of the day, The Godfather, Chinatown, Nashville. This is all in the early seventies. Once I was well into my teens I never considered doing anything else but being a filmmaker. I went to film school at Boston University in the second half of the seventies and have been making a living doing what I love ever since.
2. What is Ravin' Films?

Ravin' Films is a small production company that I run with my fiancé and partner Christina Keating. We have a studio in San Francisco from which we produce all kinds of programming for television, museums, music instruction and music videos and films for promotional purposes. Our clients have included VH1, Clear Channel, Industrial Light & Magic, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Columbia Records. More about Ravin' Films and the work that we do may be found by visiting our website: www.ravinfilms.com
3. Are there plans for more films of this type and of Jefferson Airplane in particular?

While we produced "Fly Jefferson Airplane" DVD for Eagle Rock, we also produced "John Lee Hooker: Come And See About Me," a DVD compilation of great John Lee Hooker performances over the years that includes collaborations with John Hammond, Jr., Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Naftalin, Charlie Musselwhite, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones with Eric Clapton, and others.

 We'd love to do more of this kind of programming. We have ideas for many projects, but the nature of this business is that I don't want to talk about things till they actually happen. Whether there will be another Airplane program depends mostly on how well "Fly..." sells. If there is a demand, we'd love to do another.
4. How was the footage of this film located?

I had produced a couple of Airplane projects before. One was a short tribute film to JA that was shown when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in '96. The other was the Airplane episode of Vh1's Behind The Music television series. So, I had a pretty good idea where most of the bodies were buried before I began the "Fly Jefferson Airplane" program. Of course we threw our net wide once again and did some research for new material, but truth be told, for as popular as the Airplane were, there are only a smattering of sources for material of them on film and video. Some of the stuff is of inferior quality, other is exorbitantly expensive. The best of the rest is what we were able to access for "Fly Jefferson Airplane."
5. Are the original prints from Night at the Family Dog, Go Ride the Music still in pretty good shape? Is there more footage and are there plans to re-release the complete films?

Night At The Family Dog looks quite good. It was shot on quad 2 inch video back in 1970, which was state of the art at the time, although there are some artifacts in the video, I think the video master is very acceptable. The audio is mono, but is quite well recorded.

The currently available video of Go Ride The Music leaves a lot to be desired. The audio is from the 16mm optical track, which is less than optimum. The film to tape transfer is decades old from a 16mm release print. We cleaned up what we used for "Fly JA" in post production as much as we could, but I wish we had been able to locate a better a film print that we could have retransferred using the latest telecine technology. But, we never located that print. We used what was available. That said, it's amazing footage and well worth seeing, even in its present state.

There has been talk about both programs being released in there entirety, but I have no information as to when that will actually happen.

6. What was Bill Thompson's contributions as creative consultant?

Bill was the one who insisted that I be involved in this program. He's been a big supporter of my producing Airplane related programming over the years. Bill is an unending source of stories, and is my liaison to the members of the band. He's become a good friend an a valued collaborator. The project could never have been completed without his encouragement, help and support.

7. How was this project conceived?

Basically, Eagle Rock Entertainment approached the Airplane through Bill Thompson to put together a Jefferson Airplane DVD. I was brought on as Producer and Director, and together with Christina Keating produced the program through Ravin' Films for Eagle Rock. I was happy to be able to put out a program that was more positive than the Behind The Music episode I had previously produced a few years back. Don't get me wrong, I am quite proud of the BTM episode about the Airplane, but that program was mostly about who Grace was screwing, the drugs they were doing, and all of the band strife. The music got the short end on that one. The idea for "Fly Jefferson Airplane" was to present uninterrupted song clips with interview segments that would give the clips some context. I wanted it to be fairly positive, but still honest. I feel that we were successful in our efforts.

8. How long did it take to finish the film?

Probably between three to four months spread out over a nine or ten month period of time.


9. Are there prints available for theatrical release?

No, there are not. That is for legal reasons. It would be very expensive to do a theatrical release as we would have to re-clear all of the clips for that purpose. This is strictly a DVD only release. 
10. Was the original soundtrack for each of the performances remixed for 5 to 1 Surround?

Yes. Most live tracks were originally mono. Where appropriate a few tracks were synched to the latest CD versions. The Monterey tracks were recorded on multi-track and mixed to 5.1 for the Monterey Pop box set DVD, so we were able to pull that mix for our program. The rest of the tracks were extrapolated to 5.1 by Sam Lehmer, our fantastic sound mixer. Sam mixes most of our programs for Ravin' Films. He's an excellent movie mixer with credits like "Boogie Nights" and David Byrnes' "True Stories" on his resume, as well as having spent years as a recording engineer on Grammy winning albums by folks like John Lee Hooker. He did an amazing job mixing "Fly Jefferson Airplane." The 5.1 mix is fantastic.

11. Any chance we will see you take on a Jefferson Starship Retrospective?

I'd love to be involved in such a project. Bill and I have talked about it. If the stars are in alignment it could happen.

12. Do you recall any interesting "off camera" during the making of Fly?

It's always a treat to meet the bandmembers again, but I just have to say that the best night I had was flying down to LA and spending the night with Maurice and his family. Pat Ireaci is simply the nicest person in the music business I have ever met. His entire family adopted me that evening. In September when we had our DVD release events, Pat and his whole family showed up to the LA screening of "Fly Jefferson Airplane" at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax, then drove up to San Francisco the next week to attend the San Francisco screening at the Great American Music Hall. Getting to become friends with Maurice is was my favorite part of doing this project. 
13. What's next for Bob Sarles, what projects do you have going?

I am currently editing a feature doc being directed by Dub Cornett, who is a big man in the Nashville music scene. Christina and I have lots of irons in the fire for upcoming projects for Ravin' Films, but its too soon to speak publicly about them. I have projects long in production that I hope to complete in the near future about blues musician Michael Bloomfield, satirist Paul Krassner, and guitarist and teacher Jorma Kaukonen.

I'd like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of the Jefferson Airplane band members as well as Vanessa Kaukonen, Maurice, Glenn McKay, Jesse Block, Toby Gleason, Jim Marshall and Michael Gaiman for all of their help and support. Thanks to Randy Tuten, Whit Clifton and James Olness for the cover art. Thanks to Jeff Tamarkin and Jorma for the liner notes. And many thanks also to Eagle Rock's Matt Friedman, Sean McEneely, and Mike Carden for making this DVD happen. And most of all, thanks to Bill Thompson for all of his guidance and support in making "Fly Jefferson Airplane" a film we can all be very proud of.

"FLY" JEFFERSON AIRPLANE

NEW CLASSIC JEFFERSON AIRPLANE DVD RELEASE

New DVD produced by Ravin’ Films presents performances of famed rock band in its prime.

Ravin’ Films is pleased to announce the completion of Fly Jefferson Airplane a DVD program that presents performances by the famed rock band Jefferson Airplane together with new interviews with all of the band members. The program also includes photographs by legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall, many of which have never been previously been seen.

Performances in Fly Jefferson Airplane include the band's appearances at the Monterey Pop Festival, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, their traffic stopping midtown Manhattan rooftop performance from Jean Luc Godard and D.A. Pennebaker's film One PM, as well as songs culled from Ralph Gleason's A Night at The Family Dog and Go Ride The Music programs.

Also included is rare footage of Jefferson Airplane with their original singer Signe Anderson, filmed at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium in 1966 prior to Grace Slick joining the group, and a never a before seen performance of Jorma Kaukonen's Embryonic Journey from Jefferson Airplane's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"This one is for the fans," says Fly Jefferson Airplane director and Ravin’ Films founder Bob Sarles. "Our objective with this program is to present the best available performances of entire songs that show the band as the powerful ensemble that they were. We were fortunate to unearth some real gems. The interview sections are designed to give the songs some context, and then to get out of the way and let the performances play uninterrupted."

Fly Jefferson Airplane was produced by Ravin’ Films for Eagle Rock Entertainment and will be distributed by Eagle Vision. The program was Directed by Bob Sarles and Produced by Sarles, Christina Keating (for Ravin’ Films) and Matt Friedman (for Eagle Rock).

Bonus materials on the DVD include additional interviews with longtime Airplane lighting artist Glenn McKay and RCA recording engineer and Jefferson Airplane collaborator Pat "Maurice" Ieraci.

Fly Jefferson Airplane is scheduled for a worldwide release in September 2004.

Fly Jefferson Airplane
A Ravin’ Film produced for Eagle Rock Entertainment
(81 minutes + 30 minutes of bonus interview materials. Color. Stereo and 5.1 Surround)

Featuring interviews with: Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden, Joey Covington and Bill Thompson.

Directed by Bob Sarles / Produced by Bob Sarles, Christina Keating and Matt Friedman /Sound Mix by Sam Lehmer / Edited by Bob Sarles and Christina Keating /Videography by Ted Leyhe and Bill Day / Creative Consultant Bill Thompson / Title Sequence by Mikal Carter / Liquid Light Effects by Hal "Phoenix" Muscat / DVD Cover Art by Randy Tuten and Whit Clifton with Liquid Light Effects by James Olness, J.O.E. Lightshow / Liner Notes by Jorma Kaukonen and Jeff Tamarkin