About this project
This campaign is to complete a feature-length documentary on the 1982 US Festival ("US" as in "you and me"), an influential and innovative, though sometimes forgotten West Coast mega-concert. The film is mostly done, some of the music is licensed and cleared, this campaign allows the filmmaker to license additional music and finish post production. If you've not heard about The US Festival, that's either a function of your age, or probably because the story has never been told. It's a really good story though - and Glenn Aveni is the right guy to tell it.
IN A NUTSHELL
This is not a concert film, even though it's loaded with music; it's a documentary film about a significant concert event. It's called The US Generation. It's about a live show that forever changed (for the better) the acceptance and plausibility of outdoor mega-concerts, thus setting the stage for Live Aid, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella ...
The music at the 1982 US Festival was f*cking amazing. So many top acts of the day (see just below). But the story transcends the music. It's about one man's generous vision, unity ... true togetherness - the kind we wish we had more of today, and a lot of innovation. A LOT of innovation. The personalities involved - larger than large. The stories - priceless.
Steve Wozniak had a lot of $. He wanted to use it for something important, that he felt passionate about - throwing a giant musical party whose theme was to Unite us in Song. Besides music, he felt there should be a showcase of technology - the kind that was poised to revolutionize music forever; he was, after all, the co-founder of Apple.
He set up a company which over time, hired 4000 local people, some of whom helped to create a beautiful venue, carefully bulldozed and carved out of barren desert in San Bernardino. The legendary Bill Graham was hired to produce. Bands were booked, including: Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Tom Petty, Santana, Jimmy Buffet, the Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Talking Heads - many more. It was by far the greatest lineup of bands from that era that had ever been assembled. The show took place on Labor Day weekend in 1982. It was over 100 degrees. Woz wrote checks. Though there were thematic similarities to Woodstock, it was also in many ways, the anti-Woodstock. Nobody went thirsty, because there were water stations, squeeze bottles, and showers aplenty. Misting stations were invented. They built the largest stage ever seen. There was the debut of Diamond Vision - a large screen visible by day. Futuristic technology exhibits filled 5 air-conditioned tents. And consider this: music was piped, through live feed, into the USSR - crossing the Iron Curtain ... absolutely unprecedented.
Hundreds of thousands attended. A great time was had. Yeah, sh*t happened, but good sh*t mostly. It was high pressure (and high temperature) with two alpha personalities at the top. There were hijinks. This film tells the whole story, through the music, the voices of those that were there, and those that made it happen. So much forward-looking positivity, so much satisfaction, so many smiles. Maybe a lesson for today?
It's a true slice of American history - never told until now.
ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY
The film runs approx.100 minutes. 40% of that is live music from the show. The balance are crowd experiences and commentary, interviews and B-roll done at the event, and present-day interviews of artists and organizers. This comprises a narrative that will take you behind the scenes and make you feel like you were there. Our goal is to create powerful reminiscence among those that were there, and for everyone else - the feeling of wishing they were there. The original video and audio is remastered; the newer interviews are all shot in hi-def.
"This film is the first and only authorized documentary of the 1982 US Festival. It's independent and autonomous - which was important to Woz," says Carlos Harvey, CFO of UNUSON. "I've had thousands of requests over the years to release a film like this. Glenn Aveni and his team are charged with being the independent voice that we believe will fairly capture the cultural essence of the festival, and tell the behind the scenes stories that fans will appreciate. It's been 35 years - it's time."
Among the interviews done at the festival in 1982, shown in the film, are Sting, Pat Benatar, David Byrne, Ric Ocasek, Catlos Santana, and Ray Davies, along with Steve Wozniak and Bill Graham. Among the present day interviews are Stewart Copeland, Mick Fleetwood, Marky Ramone, Eddie Money, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead,Kate Pierson of the B-52's, Peter Ellis (organizer), and of course - once again - Woz.
Says director Glenn Aveni: "The US Generation documentary will entertain, educate, and enlighten music fans not only in the Los Angeles area, but around the world; not only those from the era, but from present day. The film shows how a music event done right can change people's lives for the better. This event set a new bar for all large outdoor festivals to follow. It also exemplified a time in history, maybe offering lessons we can still learn from today. In that vein, it is also testimony to one man's humanity, generosity, and vision."
Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer, and amassed gobs of cash at a young age, more than he could ever spend in a lifetime. He decided to use some of it to “throw a big party in the middle of nowhere” because he had a message to share. Woz felt the 1970's were "The 'Me' Generation" and it was time for the world to embrace a less selfish credo, one of unity and togetherness. He created UNUSON - short for "Unite Us In Song", to produce a huge 3-day outdoor state-of-the-art concert. And the "US" Festival was born. This documentary is entitled "The US Generation" in tribute to Woz and his intended message.
Woz first approached Dr Peter Ellis - a Silicon Valley organizer - with his grandiose plan. Ellis thought Woz was a bit over the top after hearing the plan. Woz pulled out his checkbook, said “set up a corporation and let’s get started”. Ellis looked at the check, it was for 2 million dollars ... from a man he just met!
THIS VIDEO IS ENTITLED: "I'm so thankful that I have all this money from Apple, that I can do this, because nobody else would":
Woz loved music. And he loved technology. The US Festivals' live musical performances featured an unmatched lineup of the day's headliners (see below). As for the technology - advances in staging, sound design, the debut of Diamond Vision, a technology pavilion, even a satellite simulcast beamed into the USSR - inside the Iron Curtain.
Steve Wozniak’s revolutionary ideas have landed him in the Inventors Hall of Fame with other great American inventors such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, The Wright Brothers and Les Paul.
Although he'll always be best known for starting Apple w Steve Jobs, he considers The US Festivals among his greatest achievements. He wrote checks from his heart, without overly worrying about financial returns. The results: awesome shows, done right, proving they could be done right. Many of those that attended say it was the best show of their life.
When Woz was asked about the magnitude of his investment, he waved his hand dismissively - "It was a bargain. I paid to see a million smiles."
There were scant few West Coast venues that could accommodate an outdoor three-day mega-show like the US Festival back in 1982. In fact, in the 13 years since the violence at Altamont and the weather-borne and operational difficulties of Woodstock (both in 1969), not a single 3-day permit for an outdoor festival had been issued nationwide. Several execs with the San Bernardino Parks Dept. invited the festival site committee down to visit an interesting, unassuming hideaway - a former county prison farm now functioning as the Glen Helen Regional Park.
So the US Festival venue was built from scratch out of barren desert in six months. Woz wrote the checks (7 figures to the local Sheriff Foundation), and 4,000 people were employed, almost all locally. Giant bulldozers were out in force.
At the end, 500 acres were cleared into an amphitheater shaped bowl, stunning to behold, with facilities second to none. Today, the venue continues strong, as the San Manuel Amphitheater, still the largest outdoor music venue in the United States. If not for the US Festival, it would not exist.
It was a truly awesome lineup of live performances. Below, to the left, one of the posters from the event. To the right, some photos from the live performances at the show.
THIS VIDEO: The B-52's, Talking Heads, & Tom Petty LIVE from the US FEST:
DAY 1 – September 3rd in order: Gang Of Four; The Ramones; The English Beat; Oingo Boingo; The B52’s; Talking Heads; The Police NOTE: The Police arrived in peak form, smack dab in the middle of their Ghost in the Machine tour. Says Stewart Copeland: "We were whip-cracking hot." The band considers it among their top performances ever.
DAY 2 – September 4th in order: Dave Edmunds; Eddie Money; Santana; The Cars; The Kinks; Pat Benatar; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers NOTE: The Kinks show included an infectious 14 minute singalong of Lola. BUT - there is absolutely no sanctioned video footage of The Kinks' performance. Why? It's a great story - scroll down to the section on The Promoter
DAY 3 – September 5th: The Grateful Dead; Jerry Jeff Walker; Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band; Jackson Browne; Fleetwood Mac NOTE: The Grateful Dead opened the show early Sunday morning. It was billed as Breakfast in Bed with the Grateful Dead. Their encore was The Stones' Satisfaction. Now that's how to start a Sunday!
THE SHOW and THE CROWD
The Ramones played in the afternoon heat - 110 degrees - in full leather jackets - at a rapid fire pace. Those that were there and up close swear - they didn't sweat! The B-52's were outstanding, one review referred to them as "Fellini meets surf punk kitsch." As mentioned earlier The Police consider it among their greatest performances to this day.
400,000 showed up, camped out, and partied over 3 days. Very few incidents. An incredible testament to Woz' goal to unite everyone in music, technology, and positive vibes.
The Tom Petty performance was one of the first with new bassist Howie Epstein, who - according to Petty - was key to the Heartbreakers' live performances due to his superior high harmonies. Fleetwood Mac had just released “Mirage” in June of 1982, and the US Festival was only their 3rd live performance of new tracks “Gypsy” & "Hold Me” and certainly the first in front of 250,000 people.
Story after story from those who were there has been related on the Facebook pages for the event. So many have described having the “greatest time of their lives”, in spite of scorching heat, long lines to get in, and dust blowing in the wind.
Because they were United in Song.
While Woz was young in 1982, on his way to becoming a legend, Bill Graham was already seasoned, and already a legend.
A Holocaust survivor as a boy, Graham was tough - and an expert concert promoter with an unmatched reputation for staging well-produced large-scale rock shows (including Watkins Glen in 1976). Woz wanted the best. He hired Graham to organize and produce the US Festival.
Unuson Corp. (Woz and team) and Bill Graham Presents (Graham's team) clashed from the start - it was like a Hollywood movie script - “hell on wheels” rock concert promoters versus a “mod squad” of computer technocrats.
Graham understood that Woz was financing the show, and had a vision. But he had rules, designed to maintain order in a chaotic environment. When Woz and his crew decided to have a bit of fun by computer generating “counterfeit” back stage color coded passes for Apple employees and Woz' friends, it drove Graham personnel nuts until they were tipped that Woz had a computer on the property that was manufacturing perfect replicas. Woz also had ordered a section of the massive stage to be set up as a living room where he and his friends could sit and enjoy the sights and sounds. When Woz promised his friend Andy Hertzfeld (Apple Macintosh team) he could announce Santana on stage, Bill Graham had had enough of Woz' autonomous decisions and hijinks and had Hertzfeld physically removed from the stage.
The interplay between Woz and Graham was testy but not without humor and a shared respect for the audience. The documentary relates several stories that are fascinating and fun - stuff you couldn't make up if you tried. But the best Bill Graham story of the weekend did not involve Woz::
Says Glenn: "The Kinks had a contractual obligation to go on at a specified time, but decided they wanted to take the stage at dusk to benefit from the stage lighting. Bill Graham was notorious for running shows like a military operation. He cajoled, pleaded, even threatened the Kinks to take the stage at the prearranged time, only to be rebuffed. Then Graham remembered seeing Kinks manager Elliott Abbott pull up backstage in his brand new Mercedes coupe earlier that evening, so Graham instructed one of his crew to lift Abbott’s car on a forklift and drive it over to the edge of the man-made lake just behind the stage. Graham now commanded the Kinks to take the stage “or the Mercedes goes into the lake!” The Kinks took the stage. In retaliation, Abbott would not allow the Kinks to be filmed, therefore there is no footage of the Kinks in this film, or anywhere else. In hindsight, Ray and Dave Davies have said they regret that this performance was not filmed."
INNOVATIONS and DOING IT RIGHT
Water cannons regularly drenched the afternoon crowd, who were happily baking in the triple digit heat.
Misting stations, now commonplace, debuted at this event.
Water stations, and over 150,000 squirt bottles were on hand.
One of the largest stages ever seen boasted a sound system with 400,000 watts of power. The stage now resides at Fantasyland Theatre in Disneyland.
Satelllite uplink piped rock music to the USSR - behind the Iron Curtain - nobody believed Woz would pull this off. He's still a celeb in Russia today.
Before Jumbotron, before Diamond Vision, the technology for large scale video trons - visible during the day - debuted here - large screens visible during the day.
Tents were spread about, for shade
Also: A Technology Expo in 5 air-conditioned tents featured cutting edge software, video games, and computers; there were tons of showers for campers; digital delay was pioneered to improve the sound in the back; tickets were reasonably priced ($17/day and $35 for the weekend); CalTrans agreed to add a new off-ramp from the highway, and - perhaps most important - there were more porta potties than the eye could see.
THE FOLLOWING YEAR, 1983
This documentary film tells the story of the 1982 event. But for those curious, yes - they did it again - in 1983. Exit Bill Graham, enter Barry Fey. One big difference, it was held in June. Another big difference, each day of the 1983 show was genre specific: New Wave on Saturday (Stray Cats, The Clash - Mick Jones' final performance w the band ...); Heavy Metal on Sunday (Motley Crue, Ozzy, Van Halen ...); Rock on Monday (U2, Bowie ...).
For those more musically in tune with metal or other genres from 1983, we have offered Rewards that feature music from the 1983 US Fesstival as an "extra" - in addition to everything in the documentary - see the $55 Rewards.
Says Glenn: "I am a huge music fan. I remember this show. I knew what Woz did, using music to unite people and government and industry, with science and technology as well. I knew there had never been a film on it.
In 2004, I became aware that UNUSON had sold all of the master tape recordings from both US Festivals (1982 and 1983). I tracked down the tapes to a warehouse in Florida and purchased what I could afford from my limited funds, ending up with arguably the best bands' full performance tapes from 1982 including The Police, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, Santana, Ramones, and B52’s (along with U2 and The Clash from 1983). [We have launched this Kickstarter to facilitate all the remaining musical clearance and usage costs we need for the film and some DVD extra's.] Back to my story - after purchase of the raw master tapes, the first call I made was to Unuson (Woz’ corporation) to find out if I could interview Steve Wozniak to tell his story. Woz was quite accommodating and agreed to allow me to interview him on camera on two separate occasions. In doing research about the US Festivals and after interviewing Steve Wozniak, I realized wow, what an incredibly important and compelling story this was - it should be a documentary. The US Festivals was the first event in many years to get a 3-day outdoor permit. It was - in a way - the polar opposite to Woodstock; I felt we could create a truly significant film. The music, the innovations, Woz and Graham, and even - contrast it with Woodstock. To explain that a bit, Woodstock was East coast, US Fest was West coast; Woodstock was muddy and rainy, US Fest was hot and dusty; Woodstock was poorly organized and under funded, US Fest was well organized and highly capitalized; Woodstock was 60’s peace, love, & flower power and US Fest was 80’s high tech, innovation, and new devices that would change the world.
I’m fortunate to have a fantastic creative team at Plum Moving Media that shares my passion for this story. If you attended the US Festival we would love you to share your unforgettable memory, click CONTACT US. And if you were not there (like me), maybe saw something on MTV, or even if you have never heard of it at all, then we promise to take you there and share with you a wonderful historic musical journey via our film. Thanks so much for reading, for your interest, and your support. After 4+ years, we're almost there, and just need a little help."
MEET THE TEAM
An indie filmmaker. Huge music fan (and weekend guitarist) who has produced documentaries on John Entwistle, the Clash, and an Emmy-nominated film on Les Paul. Founder and operator of Icon Television Music.
Co-founder of Plum Moving Media, a full service video and audio production facility. Roots in broadcasting. Specializes in documentaries, corporate videos, and content for computer-based training programs. Also, an Apple geek with mint condition Apple I and II's, and a musician.
Masterful video editor at Plum Moving Media, has a keen eye for compelling visuals and continuity. Over 20 years experience, and like Glenn - a big fan of music (and a pretty fair weekend guitarist too).
TIMELINE, BUDGET, & USE OF PROCEEDS
Once the Kickstarter campaign concludes, the completion of the film goes on a fast track. Very fast because the B-roll footage of music and crowds ... all in place, the interviews ... done, the entire film ... laid out and story-boarded. (All funded by the producers.) What is left is simply post-production and final music clearances - some for use in the film, some for the "extra's" we are including with Rewards - all of it negotiated and priced w artists and labels.
So we expect to have a fully completed film by February of 2017, and we applied to show the film at SXSW, the premier festival of its kind, in March 2017. We indicated July, 2017 for Rewards delivery but we expect to fulfill before that - leaving open the possibility that a distributor wants to show the film in select art house theaters first - a dream come true for us, we believe this film would merit that.
Music clearances and publishing fees comprise 45% of the budget, and post-production and final editing is another 25%. The balance: Rewards fulfillment, fees, and a small reserve for distribution costs. clearing some additional music. The additional music we want to use is all negotiated and priced - both with the artists and with the relevant labels.
Says Glenn - "It's easy to say we came to Kickstarter for money. But like I said in the video, there are three other reasons just as important. First is Independence. Second is vision. Third is collaboration.
We love music, and we truly love the story underlying this event. We think nobody can tell that story with the same objective passion that we can. We want to roll up our collective sleeves and make decisions about this film without serving any master (other than ourselves). We don't want to avoid or tiptoe around topics, we want to convey truth as we see it. To do that, we must remain INDEPENDENT.
We also have a clear VISION - that this is not a concert film, but a film about a concert that was also an important, major event, with a proud message, that occurred at a key time in our nation's history. We want to mix music and story to make it the best possible film we can, and submit it to festivals.
Finally, COLLABORATION. We have already spoken with hundreds of people that were there and posted on Facebook to thousands more. We hope this Kickstarter exposes us to tens of thousands more. We want to aggregate stories and opinions, and integrate them along with the music, interviews, and back story, into the film and the DVD extra's.
We can't imagine a better place than Kickstarter, where collaboration is a way of life, and the power of collaboration is proven every day.
ABOUT THE REWARDS AND EXTRA’S
DELIVERY DATES: The Rewards show a delivery date of July, 2017 which reflects the outside date for the latest Rewards (except the party w screening); we are likely to fulfill most of the Rewards a bit earlier.
MAKING YOUR "CHOICES": All "options" involved in any Reward tier (t-shirt color, for example) will be made after the campaign; Kickstarter has a survey form for these selections, works quite well.
CAN YOU DO THIS? Yes, we can. If there are Rewards you'd like in a certain combination or quantity that are not offered that way, no problem. Send a message to Glenn by clicking "CONTACT ME" in the upper right; we're glad to work it out.
THE EXTRA'S: The specific music we add depends on the success level of this campaign. We won't disappoint. Feel free to let us know what you most want to see.
Send a message through Kickstarter by clicking CONTACT ME on the top right of the campaign page. Any questions/comments/ideas at all, we'd love to hear from you! That's a big part of why we came to Kickstarter.
Risks and challenges
Making a motion picture is a comprehensive endeavor full of many moving parts. In our case with this film, we have been working on it for a while, and so we are pretty far along. The B-roll footage - music, crowds, etc. - is all in place. The interviews are done. Some of the music is cleared, and the rest (that which we want to use) is all negotiated and priced - both with the artists and with the relevant labels. This is not my first rodeo and I am very privileged to be working with Bruce and Jay and the team at Plum Moving Media, who are quite accomplished on the production side. For all these reasons, I can say with total certainty that when this Kickstarter campaign reaches its target, this film will be made, on time, and all the Rewards will likewise be delivered on time. - GlennLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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