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No genre of music gets the documentary treatment more than punk rock. The seminal film Instrument followed Fugazi around for five years. This year’s Bad Brains: A Band in D.C., which screened at the SilverDocs festival, did the same for HR and the rest of the guys. American Hardcore was more like a survey of punk, visiting different scenes around the country, including D.C. There are no shortage of interviews where Ian Mackaye reminisces about the period—-and if he isn’t sick about talking about it, I’m sure he will be soon.
Still, the sheer number of punk-rock documentaries does not deter filmmaker Scott Crawford from completing Salad Days: The Birth of Punk Rock in the Nation’s Capital, a film that’s being funded partly through Kickstarter.
“Many of [the other punk documentaries] did discuss D.C.,” says Crawford, “but not in any depth or closer examination of the larger community that existed … I think all too often the nihilistic side of punk from that period seems to be the narrative, and while some of that existed here in D.C., I think it was generally really creative and inspired. Part of what I’m trying to examine in this film is how D.C. was different than, say, New York or Los Angeles at the time.” His point is well-taken; my biggest problem with American Hardcore was how it veered from one city to another without much depth.
The trailer for Salad Days, which can be seen on its Kickstarter page, gives a taste of what’s to come. Though, while the footage is exciting, the number of bands and breadth of footage may be overwhelming. “We’ve gathered a pretty extensive collection of live footage from that entire period—-some of which I’d never seen before,” Crawford says. “Rites of Spring, Embrace, One Last Wish, Beefeater, Dag Nasty, Minor Threat, Fugazi and tons of others will all be represented. We’ve also been fortunate enough to have many of those interviewed share their private scrapbooks with us and allow us to use their photos in the film.”
Even with this unparalleled access to lives of D.C. punk rockers, Crawford is concerned about paying for the project. “I’m discovering that filmmaking is full of ups and downs, much of which is based on economics,” he says. “We have a lot of travel to do to speak with the people that are central to the story, and the film-festival circuit isn’t without its prohibitive fees as well.” But his Kickstarter campaign, so far, is progressing speedily. As of this writing, Crawford has raised a little more than $19,000 (his goal is $32,000), and there are still 27 days to go. “The response has been amazing so far,” he says, “and I’m hoping we can make our goal.”