Tag Archives: Banger Films

The power of pop music is uncovered in new CTV original series This is Pop

From a media release:

From Auto-Tune to boy bands to the rise of country pop, CTV’s all-new original documentary series THIS IS POP dives deep into some of the most pivotal moments in pop music history over the past seven decades. Produced by Banger Films, the eight-part docu-series features exclusive interviews with the biggest names in music – including Shania Twain, Boyz II Men, and T-Pain – and explores their impact on the industry and pop culture. THIS IS POP airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, beginning March 6, on CTV, and the all-new CTV.ca and CTV app.

Each 60-minute instalment of THIS IS POP is directed by an award-winning Canadian filmmaker – such as Jared Raab, Simon Ennis, and Lisa Rideout – who bring their own style and voiceto one common goal: to look at how these seminal moments unfolded, and left long-lasting legacies on pop music and culture which continue until today.

The eight game-changing moments that THIS IS POP explores include:

“Auto-Tune” (Saturday, March 6 at 10 p.m. ET) – Love it or hate it, Auto-Tune has changed pop music. From Cher’s “Believe” to Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown,” the sound has penetrated the globe and revolutionized music since its invention in 1997. Some say the pitch-correction technology has ruined music, while others have found fame by using the tool creatively. Tracing Auto-Tune’s roots to predecessors like the synthesizer, the good, the bad, and the ugly of this game-changing technology is revealed, grounded in a personal account of Auto-Tune’s most famous user, T-Pain. This episode also features interviews with Auto-Tune inventor Dr. Andy Hildebrand, British record producer Ken Scott (producer and engineer for The Beatles and some of David Bowie’s biggest albums), and synthesizer pioneer Suzanne Ciani. Directed by Jared Raab (NIRVANNA THE BAND THE SHOW).

“Hail Britpop!” (Saturday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET) – Britpop. The word can elicit an eye roll, an itch to get on the dance floor, or a sudden urge to cry and sing “Wonderwall.” In the early ‘90s, when America was hooked on grunge, The Brits retaliated with a return to catchy, witty, and downright fun pop, speaking to their own stories and cultural roots. This musical zeitgeist known as “Britpop” went far behind the headlines of “Oasis vs. Blur” – bands like Elastica, Echobelly, Pulp, Lush, and Suede became international exports with a unique sound. With musical scenes in both London and Manchester, Britpop was the “perfect storm” of creative songwriting, eclectic personalities, and cultural forces behind some of the catchiest tunes on the planet. Featuring interviews with Blur’s Alex James and Dave Rowntree, Skin from Skunk Anansie, and Creation Records’ Alan McGee (who discovered Oasis). Directed by Reginald Harkema (Monkey Warfare).

“Stockholm Syndrome” (Saturday, March 20 at 10 p.m. ET) – Since 1974, when a little-known group named ABBA won Eurovision’s song contest with their track “Waterloo,” Sweden has been a global force in exporting pop music. Cassette players and bedroom walls have been filled with the likes of Roxette, Ace of Base, and Robyn, and ‘90s playlists featuring Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC would be obsolete without the work of Swedes Denniz Pop and Max Martin. Today, Swedish producers and songwriters continue to be the powerhouses behind the biggest pop stars. Featuring interviews with ABBA’s Benny Andersson, Ace of Base’s Ulf Ekberg, and The Backstreet Boys’ Brian Littrell, this episode explores how one – Scandinavian country came to dominate global pop music. Directed by Jared Raab.

“The Boyz II Men Effect” (Saturday, March 27 at 10 p.m. ET) – Before Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and 98 Degrees, there was a “boy band” from Philadelphia called Boyz II Men that ruled the charts. With their incredible vocal harmonies and preppy-cool style, Boyz II Men became the “soundtrack to our lives” with hits like “End of The Road”, “I’ll Make Love To You”, “Motown Philly,” and “One Sweet Day” – heard at weddings, proms, karaoke bars, and funerals alike. Going back to the band’s humble beginnings in Philadelphia, this episode pays homage to the influential R&B group who set the template for ‘90s boy bands. Featuring interviews with band members Nate Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, GRAMMY® AWARD-winning producer and musician Babyface, and Nick Lachey. Directed by Chelsea McMullan.

“When Country Goes Pop” (Saturday, April 3 at 10 p.m. ET) – It’s a tale as old as time – a country song goes “pop” and country music fans protest. From Dolly Parton to Shania Twain to Lil Nas X, the scrutiny around what makes a song “country” has been a raging debate that shows no signs of slowing down. Featuring renowned Canadian musician Orville Peck, pivotal and controversial moments of the Country Pop genre are examined in this instalment, as artists including Brandi Carlile and Twain herself share their stories to help demonstrate why country music has such a fetish with authenticity. Directed by Simon Ennis.

“The Brill Building in 4 Songs” (Saturday, April 10 at 10 p.m. ET) – New York City’s Brill Building and pop music go together like bread and butter, or in this case, like King n’ Goffin, Leiber n’ Stoller, or Barry n’ Kim. In the 1950s and 60s, songwriters, record producers, and wannabe pop stars flocked to 1619 Broadway in New York with dreams of churning out the next big hit. Full of small rooms with upright pianos, The Brill Building was labelled a “song-factory”, but its true spirit grew out of a community that collaborated and challenged each other to achieve greatness. The result would culminate in an incredible musical era known as “The Brill Building Sound” and would define pop music to this day, delivering hits like “Leader of The Pack,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Sugar Sugar.” Featuring interviews with singer Andy Kim, Neil Sedaka, Steven Van Zandt, and singer-songwriter Linda Perry. Directed by Chelsea McMullan.

“What Can A Song Do?” (Saturday, April 17 at 10 p.m. ET) – For decades, musicians have been using music as their weapon of choice against social injustice, discrimination and marginalization. From Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” a song is one of the most powerful ways to transmit a message to a large audience. This episode explores the idea that music actually be a catalyst for change, with musicians like Chuck D, Arlo Guthrie, and Hozier sharing their unique approach to writing about injustice. Directed by Lisa Rideout.

“Festival Rising” (Saturday, April 24 at 10 p.m. ET) – There is no right of passage quite like the music festival. Millions of people attend them each year and now more than ever they infiltrate our culture from “festival wear” clothing lines to playlists. Taking a journey from ‘60s counterculture to modern-day “selfie” culture, the evolution of the music festival is explored to examine deeper ideas about the importance of collective experiences, and they act as a cultural mirror that reflect interests and ideals. Focusing on some of the most iconic festivals in history including Monterey Pop, Glastonbury, The US Festival, Woodstock 99, and Bonnaroo, accounts from Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke bring to life to all the sights and sounds of the pop festival. Directed by Dylan Reibling.

THIS IS POP is produced by Banger Films in association with CTV. For Banger, Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen are Executive Producers and Amanda Burt is Series Producer.

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CBC digs deep for a monumental history of music in From the Vaults

As Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC has—literally—a treasure trove of an archive from which to pull footage and information. With over 90,000 reels to draw from, it was a monumental task. But it paid off with the network’s latest project.

From the Vaults—bowing Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC—isn’t an update of the wonderful 1982 miniseries Heart of Gold. Where that three-hour special, narrated by Donald Sutherland, only explored Canadian singer-songwriters, From the Vaults uses music to tell the stories of Canada and the world through not just homegrown talent but international ones who visited CBC’s studios.

“I think the CBC has been trying to find a way to share their archive with Canadians,” says executive producer Sam Dunn. “It’s this massive, titanic, vault of material that not only exists in the basement of Toronto’s [CBC headquarters] but major cities across the country.”

Dunn’s Banger Films serves as producers of From the Vaults and CBC couldn’t have picked a better partner. Banger Films has produced a plethora of top-notch documentary films and TV series in Super Duper Alice Cooper, Metal Evolution, Long Time Running and Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. Teaming with the CBC was a no-brainer, Dunn says. He and co-executive producer and Banger Films partner Scot McFadyen love working with archival material and being storytellers and embraced the opportunity to cross decades and musical styles. They and their staff know music and how to tell a story but were nonetheless overwhelmed by the sheer amount of source material.

“We were completely daunted,” Dunn says with a laugh. “We couldn’t just go down there and pull a tape off a shelf because it was like throwing a pebble into an ocean.” The solution? They reached out to people they knew in Canada: music writers, musicians, folks who had a great knowledge of the archive and had worked at the CBC for years. The team slowly began piecing together performances that stood out for people. A key appearance by The Who in a student union building. A special hosted by Harry Belafonte documenting his travels across Canada.

Sammy Davis Jr. on the set of his CBC special, Parade.

The next step was to structure each of the six one-hour episodes. The CBC, Dunn explains, didn’t want them divided by genre, decade or regions of Canada. The solution? Use a theme that says something about Canada and our culture.

Narrated by Amanda Parris and Tom Power, Episode 1—labelled “Land of Opportunities”—recalls musical acts that used this country as a stepping stone or key component in their career. Though he was a world-renown entertainer and member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr. would never be able to headline his own television show in the U.S. because of his skin colour. He came to Canada to do it, hosting a special called Parade. Singer-songwriter Joan Baez, meanwhile, performed and was interviewed at the CBC during the Vietnam War; and reggae legend Jackie Mittoo and blues singer Muddy Waters sought the freedom to explore their talents on Canadian soil.

From the Vaults not only spotlights music and musicians but the network as well. Footage is culled from several past projects like Adrienne Clarkson Presents, Let’s Go, Nightcap, Pilot One, Take 30, Talent Caravan, The Tommy Hunter Show and The Wayne & Shuster Hour, providing a history of the CBC and its ongoing relationship with the arts.

“Up until The New Music and the emergence of MuchMusic the CBC was the only place in town that would show music on television,” Dunn says. “I think the other factor is that we’re talking about a CBC at a time when it a little more like the Wild West out there. It’s a credit to independent-minded producers who were really determined to create the kind of shows they wanted to see on the network.”

From the Vaults airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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Banger Films returns to TV with excellent Rock Icons

Are you ready to rock? Four years after Banger Films brought the history of metal music to television with Metal Evolution, the boys are back with Rock Icons.

Debuting Sunday on HBO Canada (after a first window broadcast on VH1), Rock Icons celebrates the men and ladies who have built incredible careers in the music industry. Beginning this week with a focus on Rush frontman Geddy Lee, upcoming instalments boast Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, Ted Nugent, Heart’s Ann Wilson, Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, Daryl Hall, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan.

“Picking these icons was really a collaboration between ourselves and VH1,” says Sam Dunn, who co-directed the series with Scot McFadyen. “We had our favourites and they had theirs and we created a list where we felt there were stories to tell and they felt there was an audience for.” Dunn and McFadyen’s Banger Films have produced a must-watch list of feature documentaries on the subject of rock and metal music, from Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey to Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Iron Maiden: Flight 666 and Super Duper Alice Cooper, building trust within the music community. That trust gave them access to folks like Wilson, who is notoriously shy when it comes to granting interviews.

Even well-versed fans of bands like Rush and Mötley Crüe will be surprised by what the Banger crew uncover; Lee’s interest in music was inspired by Roy Orbison and Sixx is the reason the glam rockers existed in the first place.

“The story of Nikki Sixx has always been the same, the sex, the drugs and the rock and roll,” Dunn says. “We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to look at who this person was. We came up with the title The Architect, because he really is the architect behind Mötley Crüe. He guided and shaped that band and is a really smart guy, and we felt that was a more interesting story than talking about the Sunset Strip again.”

Dunn acknowledges the 10-part first season barely scratches the surface on all of the icons they’d love to celebrate, but at this point there’s no Season 2 planned. Not that he and the Banger Films team are sitting around. Their latest feature documentary, Satan Lives, is available on iTunes and On Demand across Canada now, and a two-part doc on the history of hip-hop called The Message: Hip-Hop Evolution is on the way. The company also launched a kids’ programming division called B Minors; Gaming Show (In My Parents Garage) currently airs on CHRGD.

When I mention the possibility of a documentary celebrating the Scorpions, Dunn doesn’t miss a beat.

“Someone needs to make that film,” he says. “They’re the biggest musical act to come out of Germany. They’re the biggest metal band to come out of North America, the U.K. and the English-speaking world. Someone’s gotta do it and we’d love to do it. I better call some German broadcasters.”

Rock Icons airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET/MT on HBO Canada.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail