In a post-viewing Q&A, director Tim Wheeler and others who worked on the film talked about their process and why the band chose to allow such intimate access
Green Day’s documentary ¡Cuatro! screened at Los Angeles’ Sonos Studio on Wednesday, a month after it premiered at South By Southwest and one night before the band headlined the nearby 16,000-seater Sports Arena.
Indeed, Green Day may be one of the biggest rock bands in the world, but in this intimate, 90-minute look at how the three-album collection ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre! came together, the punk trio went back to its roots: playing clubs and hunkering down in a multitude of studios, where singer Billie Joe Armstrong mined through some 65 songs.
You could say the creators of ¡Cuatro! didn’t quite know what they were getting themselves into when the project started as none of the new material had been written before filming officially began. “At one point it’s like, how are we going to fit all of this onto one record, let’s do two, and then let’s do three, and that’s really what happened, and everybody ran with it,” director Tim Wheeler said of the band’s seemingly endless inspiration during a Q&A moderated by Hollywood Reporter music editor Shirley Halperin.
The idea for a documentary came after recording began and thanks in large part to cinematographers Chris Dugan and Greg Schneider, who knew the band previously and been shooting pre-production. Green Day then decided to turn that footage into a film.
Said Wheeler: “They wanted to show this moment in time, they wanted to show what it’s like for them to make a record, they wanted to show how they interact, what their creative process is like.” All elements of the Green Day lore that fans had yet to see without filter.
“They reached out to us because Tim Lynch, the producer, did Bullet and the Bible, and we also do a lot of surf films, and so they were really attracted to the idea of doing something that was more of a surf film-style rock documentary. They wanted something unconventional, spontaneous, fun and lifestyle-driven,” he added.
While the doc kicks off with crisp, high-def footage that was shot digitally, as you follow the band’s story, the film formats change, with certain scenes appearing as if they were shot with a Camcorder camera from the 1980s, others captured in black and white or grainy 16mm.
This technique of switching between digital and film, and all of the added effects, give each scene a different vibe. Explained cinematographer Alex Kopps: “Some of it is period, like there’s a story about them being on Acid, which was shot on VHS, which is what they would have had then, and then some of it was more feeling based, like some of it was shot on Super 8.”
The creative team had over 300 hours of footage to work with, giving them plenty of options with which to form a visual narrative.
Full interview at Hollywood Reporter: HERE