Halfway between London and LA, at 32,000, I just watched on the in-flight system, a wonderful documentary called ‘Anvil’. It’s about the Canadian rock phenomenon (of the title) from the eighties who dropped off the radar and fell into obscurity. 12 albums late and they are working in Canada as meals on wheels drivers, labourers, but still carry the dream that the next album will b e the big one.
To call it Spinal Tap ‘but for real’ would be completely accurate, but it would also undersell an extraordinary documentary that is laugh out loud funny, tear jerkingly insightful, and brutally honest. Yet it’s all done with a love and intimacy that invites you, over the 90 minute duration, to fall in love with a couple of guys who believed in the dream and never let go. It could so easily have been a hatchet job as their story is at first glance, quite sad. But the bond between ‘Lips’ the singer and Rob the drummer is so strong, their passion and drive so relentless, and their enthusiasm so infectious, very quickly you start to root for these crazy characters. Add to that the fact that they are very grounded, philosophical and pragmatic, you just know they have been there, got the T shirt, and are coming back for more.
For anyone in the film business, the parallels are undeniable. In fact I would go as far as to say that every independent film maker should see this documentary – it’s like looking in a mirror at times, complete with lows (playing to tiny audiences, getting ripped off by agents and managers, infighting during the creative struggle), and highs (playing to massive audiences, staying the course, the love of family). I have to admit that I shed a tear more than one and kept waking the guy sleeping next to me with guffaws.
Terrific and inspiring stuff. Sitting on a plane to LA, on my way to some big and glitzy awards, it’s the grounding I needed right now, to keep it all in perspective. I for one am heading to their website when I land, to buy ‘direct from them’ their album.
Onwards and upwards!
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author