Typically, the leader controls a group’s narrative. But drummer Grant McCord got the chance to turn the story around with a new film titled badass teen. McCord co-wrote the screenplay with Matthew Dho, informed in part by his own experience as a session player for several groups.
He developed the project with Chuckie Duff, a former Dear and the Headlights bassist turned developer and executive producer.
“When you are not the leader, you are at the mercy of the driving force of the group,” says Duff. “You have to be careful who you hitch your cart to.”
This is one of the many themes that run through the film, which has had its digital output via Freestyle Digital Media Friday, September 18. badass teen focuses on a fictional indie rock band called Stylo and the Murder Dogs, but the plot will resonate with real-world musicians.
Basically, it’s a story of the missteps serious musicians take when they cede too much power to other people and just focus on their craft without taking it to the next level on the business side. “I think in some ways it’s an edifying tale,” says Duff. “We’ve all had this experience of not having it in writing.”
The film has several Phoenix connections. Some scenes were shot in local concert halls, such as Crescent Ballroom, Rebel Lounge and Van Buren. Others were filmed at Acme Prints, Gallo Blanco and Gracie’s Tax Bar. Jimmy Adkins, singer and guitarist for Jimmy Eat World, made an appearance. Pat Kirch, drummer for The Maine too.
“It’s a musical film made by musicians,” says McCord, who also directed the film. “It’s a bit of a film of spite produced by a band of accompanying musicians.
Duff says they talked about making a band movie for a while, but wanted to make sure the musicians in the movie sounded like a real band. “Like a lot of people, we think of ourselves as music critics and we’re a bit of a snob,” he says.
Enter Evan Ultra, a little-known musician who went on to write the 12-track soundtrack and star in the film. “At one point we looked at each other and we were like ‘This is the guy’,” Duff recalls. McCord spent about six months writing the screenplay while they worked to find other actors.
The film was scheduled to premiere during South by Southwest in Austin, but the mid-March event has been canceled due to COVID-19. Now that the film has just been released online, Duff looks back on all the concerts he has attended at venues in Phoenix like Stinkweeds and Modified Arts, thinking about the musicians who inspired him and hoping the film will provide a similar spark for them. others.
“The message of the movie is that anyone can do it,” says Duff. “Just make your music with your friends and get out of your van and play.”