That ’80s film
Rutland filmmaker debuts trip back in time on Friday
Rutland native Andrea Ajemian hardly remembers 1982, but like many who were just entering their teens later in the decade, she does remember the music that was born during that era.
“When I was in high school, everybody was crazy for New Kids on the Block,” she recalled.
Ajemian, who graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 1993, admits she wasn’t much into the music scene in college; she was too busy preparing for a career in film, with some business thrown in. It’s a path that has led her to producing, where her business education and experience comes in handy.
When she heard John Artigo’s idea for a film about the boy bands of the 1980s, she jumped at the chance to produce it.
Artigo’s vision–a comedy about a high school quarterback who leaves it all behind to turn his heavy metal band into the first boy band–had everything Ajemian likes: fun, nostalgia and opportunities for young musicians and for teenage actors to get a foot in the door.
But it also had its challenges. Neither Artigo nor Ajemian were musicians.
“John and I were at a loss when we came up with this concept and put the script together,” Ajemian said. “We said, ‘we can’t pull this movie off without a real music person.”
Enter Kaz Gamble.
Gamble grew up in Worcester but was pretty far away from home pursuing (with great success) a music career of his own. He came home for a visit and was presented by his parents with a newspaper clipping about the movie. They were looking for someone just like him. It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Gamble had recently spent some time DJing oldies, so he admits the music of the 1980s was fresh in his mind.
But the task was daunting: come up with 20 original songs with the boy band feel.
“I went to film school, so I knew that making a film is a lot of work,” he said. “And it’s always harder than you think it’s going to be.”
Gamble went at it full bore. He researched extensively and then did what seemed impossible: produced modern music with an ’80s feel, and without the modern methods to prevent the modern sound from creeping in.
Harder than it sounds, he admits.
After accepting that he’d have to ditch a lot of the modern methods he was so familiar with, he faced the task of trying to replace them.
“You can’t believe, audio production has evolved so much since the ’80s,” he says. “It’s so out of fashion, so you can’t even get a lot of those sounds.”
Gamble couldn’t even find information online about mixing techniques; he went to thel ibrary to find a 1980s book about mixing to guide him.
Gamble wasn’t just writing music to sound like the 1980s; some themes were meant for older characters, whose music was from another era. And to be authentic, he realized that he’d have to take into account all the influences of the 1970s as well.
He’s feeling confident that he’s achieved the gaol: Folks who’ve previewed the movie think some of his songs are authentic to the era, not new imitations.
The movie has plenty of local appeal. Besides set at the fictional Worcester High School, it was filmed entirely in Worcester County. Also, besides Ajemian and Gamble, several local actors and musicians get their screen time with the bigger stars: Recent Wachusett Regional High School grads Nina Genatossio and Ryan Letourneau go to work beside One Tree Hill star Michael Copon and well-knowns E-Knock, Lorenzo Hooker III, Robert Hoffman, Ryan Hansen and Ming Na.
Mixing locals with Hollywood types is part of what makes the film so satisfying to Ajemian.
“In Worcester County, kids in that age group don’t get the opportunities to work as they do in L.A. or Boston or New York,” she said.
BoyBand: Breakin’ through in ’82 opens Friday, June 4, at Showcase Cinema North for a week’s run. An after-party at 9 p.m. ($7 cover) at Gilrein’s, 802 Main St., Worcester, will feature composer Kaz Gamble, who wrote the movie’s 20 original songs, as DJ, spinning 1980s music as well as the film’s soundtrack. boybandmovie.com