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Victoria Film Festival Interview - LOUDER THAN LOVE director Tony D'Annunzio

Louder Than Love - At Victoria Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

“While the West Coast was grooving to the sounds of the “Summer of Love” in 1967, Detroit was pumping out a hard-driving, gritty, raw sound. At the epicenter of this seminal music scene stood the Grande Ballroom, Detroit’s original rock and roll palace. LOUDER THAN LOVE: The Grande Ballroom Story, relates the story of the hallowed halls that started it all, as told by the artists and fans who helped fuel the Grande phenomenon. In the late 1960s, the Grande helped to break some of America’s most iconic rock bands including MC5, Iggy and the Stooges and Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, who influenced local musicians and inspired bands all over the U.S. and Great Britain. Legendary acts such as Led Zeppelin, Cream, B.B. King, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and the Who played the Grande main stage on a regular basis." Director Tony D'Annunzio on "Louder Than Love" which screens at the Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival? Tell me about your festival experience, and if you plan to attend Victoria for the film’s screenings.

Yes, this is my first film at the Victoria Film Festival and unfortunately I wont be attending this particular festival. Since LOUDER premiered in April 2012,it has played in 10 different festivals including Chicago, Nashville, Ann Arbor and Las Vegas. It was handpicked by Michael Moore for the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival and has also screened at the ROCK and ROLL HALL of FAME & Museum. All screening of LOUDER THAN LOVE have had SOLD OUT performances. I’m hoping the wonderful people of Victoria BC embrace and enjoy my film as well!

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to the industry.

Although I have been in the Broadcast Television industry for almost 25 years,this is my first independent, self-funded film that I have produced and directed. Over the past 24+ years I have worked with 6 of the last 7 Presidents of the USA, every major network and/or cable station including ABC, NBC, HBO, FOX, Discovery, MTV, VH1, Travel Channel, ESPN and many more. My resume includes 5 Stanley Cup Championships, 4 NBA Championships, 2 NFL Super Bowls, 2 MLB World Series. I have had the pleasure of working with almost all of my favourite musical artists including Aerosmith, B.B King,The Rolling Stones,Paul McCartney and The Who just to name a few!

It was my love for music that got me in the video production business and it ended up being my passion that led me to produce and direct my first documentary “LOUDER THAN LOVE-The Grande Ballroom Story” 24 years later!

How did this whole project come together?

At the 20 year mark in my career I decided to challenge myself to do something that I had wanted to do since I got in the business. That was to produce and direct my own documentary .Although I have had the pleasure of working on some of the biggest events in the world with some of the most talented people I had always felt that I should try to use my years of experience and my passion for music to tell a story that I felt needed to be told. The story of the Grande Ballroom in my opinion is the Greatest untold story in Rock and Roll History…until now! I ended up using my production resources and professional contacts to make this dream a reality.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

Since the doc was on a very tight(read no) budget I had to wear multiple hats in order to pull this off. I not only produced and directed it myself but sometimes ended up shooting, lighting and handling the audio. The entire project was shot with the Sony F-900 HDCam 24p and mastered all HDCam through the edit. I knew that I would be using a lot of archival footage and photos,I wanted the beautiful look of 24p world to blend with the raw,gritty feel of 8mm film and old still photos. I think the results are hauntingly beautiful.

Although I had an extremely tight budget,I was overwhelmed by the amount of help I received by other friends in the video business. When you see the credits roll at the end of the film the names of the others that donated their time and expertise to my project looks like a big budget film. I’m very blessed to have such incredibly talented friends that believed in me and helped my project succeed in turning out this wonderful!

Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was your favorite moment?

Without a doubt the most difficult aspect was the music licensing. I had never had to trend in these waters before. My favourite moments were many; interviewing Mr BB King about Detroit and The Grande during the 60’s, listening to Roger Daltrey speak so highly of how much playing Detroit effected the Who’s career and having Alice Cooper tell me about his Grande experiences.

I have told my wife,Sharri, many times that I’m such a HUGE fan of music that just having my interview requests granted and being able to sit with such musicial icons discussing their early years of their careers and Detroit was an amazing experience in itself.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

Without a doubt Michael Moore has been my biggest inspiration. When I got the call that he had handpicked my film for the Traverse City Film Festival I was totally blown away. Michael asked if he could introduce my film to the SOLD OUT audience at his festival and I got goose bumps. To be acknowledged by your mentor and inspiration was mind blowing!

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

Personally, I had set some goals that other filmmakers might not have wanted. With my pretty extensive professional career and resume the one thing I had never done before was to produce and direct my own documentary, so my first goal was just to finish it on my own terms!!

After finishing it, all the incredible reviews and Sold Out festivals and awards has been kind of an icing on the cake…

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

When it screened at the Foster Theater inside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on this giant IMAX screen with state of the art sound system it really made hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was a total sensory overload to see my work on this size screen inside the building. The week before my film played, the theatre showed Martin Scorsese's George Harrison Documentary and the week following my screening was “U2 3D”. Not bad company to be in for a first time director/producer! Pretty proud moment for me…

If you could offer some advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?

Set realistic goals and follow through with them.

What would you do or say to someone who is talking, texting or being disruptive during a movie?

The disregard for others that came to enjoy the film is totally unacceptable .I would have to ask them to leave.

And finally, what is the single greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?

"Searching for Sugar Man."

Official Website:

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Victoria Film Festival. For showtimes and further information visit

Be sure to follow instant happenings of the festival and updates on my Twitter @jasonwhyte!

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/06/13 04:57:55
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