SALEM – The 9th Annual Salem Film Fest kicks off this weekend including the feature documentary Mad Tiger which makes its Massachusetts premiere on Sunday evening at Cinema Salem sponsored by Creative Salem. The film documents two best friends band mates in the performance-art punk band, Peelander-Z.
Known as Yellow and Red, the duo toured the United States for fifteen years with their unique shows that combine crazy costumes, antics galore, and some pure punk rock. The film jumps into a crucial point in their relationship as it was tested in 2012 when Red made the decision to leave the group.
After years of wanting to make a film about the band, cinematographer Jonathan Yi saw Red's goodbye video posted for the fans, and he knew this would be a great story to tell. He asked fellow cinematographer Michael Haertlein to co-direct a documentary about Red's final days. During previous screenings, the film has received plenty of laughs, but also left audiences surprised and warmed by the depth of the unique relationship revealed throughout the documentary. The filmmakers hope the audience takes away a sense that happiness is found by being good to the ones you love, rather than through manufactured fun.
The cinematographers behind Mad Tiger met through mutual friends in college, and have been collaborating on short films ever since. Jon is the director of the documentary series East of Main Street on HBO. He has a long resume including work as a consultant for Canon developing the Canon EOS C300 that was used in the production of Mad Tiger.
Michael’s work has been shown on NBC, CBS, The Food Network, A&E, MTV, and so many other stations on your cable box. He embedded with the US military in Southern Afghanistan including combat missions with Army Route Clearance for a miniseries with Discovery Channel called the Heroes of Hell's Highway.
Experience the world of Peelander-Z at Salem Film Fest with a screening of Mad Tiger at Cinema Salem on Sun. March 3, 2016 at 8PM, sponsored by Creative Salem. Michael Haertlein spoke with me about the film earlier this week, and here’s what he had to say.
How did you hear about Peelander-Z and how would you describe them?
Jon began directing music videos for them in 2009 after Green joined the band. They were always such fascinating people because of their commitment to living in character. The band is call and response performance art. It is well-choreographed chaos aimed to spread explosive joy.
What interested you about the dynamics of their relationship that led you and Jon to believe it had the makings of a great documentary?
When Red posted a video to the fans announcing that he was quitting the band, his eyes were filled with emotion despite the silly story about moving back to Planet Peelander to teach at the Ninja High School. Since Yellow was the only member of Peelander-Z allowed to speak publicly, it became apparent that everyone involved was sharing an experience that was going untold.
What was the filming process like?
Jon and I committed to shooting with the band as much as possible. By showing up every day and putting in the time, we began to break through their performance.
What did you most enjoy and what was most challenging?
I loved spending time with Yellow's family in Kobe, Japan. Yellow's father is just like him, and we talked for hours despite neither one of us sharing a common language. The greatest challenge was gaining the trust of such a private group of people. It took a while for them to stop performing for the camera.
Do you need to love performance art or punk rock to enjoy the documentary?
You don't need to be a fan of the band or their music to enjoy Mad Tiger. The film can be enjoyed by anyone that has ever tested a friendship or had to let go of part of themself in order to find peace. Our goal was to make the movie so that non-fans would feel so connected to the characters by the end of the movie, they wouldn't even notice their crazy appearance.
For more information about the Mad Tiger documentary, visit www.madtigermovie.com and find them on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about Salem Film Fest, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.