'Almost, Almost Famous' screens at Yorkton Film Festival

The audience grew and grew until more chairs were needed at the Painted Hand Casino to accommodate everyone attending the opening night screening of the Yorkton Film Festival.

Those attending were there to see ‘Almost, Almost Famous’ on the big screen.

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“On a road trip through an alternate universe, where Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison never die, Almost Almost Famous explores the lives of three of the world’s top tribute artists, the cost of borrowed fame and the risk of getting ‘lost in the act’,” details a symnopsis of the film at www.almostalmostfamous.com

“Fifty years after trailblazers like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jackie Wilson defined music as we know it today, three world-class tribute artists carry on their legacy - but what happens when borrowed fame begins to lose its charm? Can they ever find stardom on their own terms?”

Barry Lank, the film’s director, said the film was initially thought to focus on tour manager Marty Kramer.

“I thought he’d make an interesting character,” he explained after the viewing.

But when he met the tribute artists Lank, one of Western Canada’s most respected documentary directors and cinematographers, Barry’s credits include producing, directing and shooting over fifty hours of documentary, commercial and informational programming, said he knew the film had to be about them.

“These guys were so good, so what does it take to break out,” he said, adding that is a big question, what does it take to become a success in the music business.

“It’s luck, it’s management, it’s timing,” said Lank answering his own question, adding talent alone is not enough.

In Almost Almost Famous viewers are taken on a musical ride and follows the stories of Texas rockabilly musician Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis, Las Vegas-based R & B singer Bobby Brooks as Jackie Wilson and the ‘Elvis from Orlando’, Ted Torres on their ‘Class of ‘59’ cross country road tour, looking at what keeps them hitting the stage in the guise of long gone stars of an earlier era.

“From the beer joints of Texas to the Karaoke bars of Honolulu, the film explores how three incredibly talented singers wound up paying the bills as tribute artists. Ted would be happy to play the young Elvis forever but he’s getting older. Lance dreams that his own band, The Lovers, will make it big one day. And Bobby Brooks finds his aspirations turned on their head with a startling revelation,” details the synopsis.

“Who will break out and who will be forced to settle for less? Their intrepid road manager, Marty Kramer, has his work cut out for him as he struggles to keep their feet on the ground, the music centre stage, and the crowds clamouring for more.”

The film has some key moments; Bobby Brooks who performs as Jackie Wilson, learning about his biological father, and Lance Lipinsky who performs as Jerry Lee Lewis attending a major awards show.

Lank said such moments were gems that emerged in front of the camera during shooting.

“You’ve got to get lucky sometimes when making a film,” he said.

 Lank added when it came to filming they took a simple approach; “we just shot everything that moved.”

The result of such an approach meant editing was a bear.

“We knew we had a lot of good material,” Lank said. “But, carving out the story was tough.”

And there were other challenges, in particular acquiring the rights to have the songs being performed used in the film.

Those holding the rights to all the Elvis Preseley material said no. Lank said they were afraid if they approved one film with an Elvis impersonator they be inundated with such requests. That barrier had Lank requesting Ted Torres who performs as Elvis Presley do a gospel number specifically for the film.

Most of Jackie Wilson’s material is now under control of the Michael Jackson estate, and again it was not available, at least at a cost they could afford, said Lank.

But, in the end the film did get completed, and Lank is proud of the result.

“It is one of my favourites, and one of the most difficult. I really like it,” he said.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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