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How filmmakers convinced Phish front man Trey Anastasio to open up about his addiction, arrest, and the future of the epic band
The documentary “Between Me and My Mind” offers unprecedented access to the personal life and artistic process of Phish front man Trey Anastasio. It’s the first time the band has given a film crew this level of access since a 2000 documentary directed by a then-unknown Todd Phillips. The film will be screened Wednesday in a one-night-only event at movie theaters across the country. Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories. Since 2000, I’ve been what you might call a “a Phish fan.” I’ve been to 32 of the band’s concerts, which have taken me on long road trips all over United States – from Southern California, to Washington State, down to Miami, up to Indianapolis, and – as recently as last week – the Mohegan Indian Reservation in Uncasville, Connecticut. I’m also a subscriber to the LivePhish app, which, for $10 a month, gives me access the band’s concerts uploaded minutes after they’ve stepped off the stage, as well as a substantial archive of past shows and albums. Before the smartphone era, I filled multiple Case Logic binders front-to-back with burned CDs of the band’s live concerts that that I meticulously labeled with the date, venue, and set list. However, despite all this, in many Phish-fan circles, I would probably still be considered to be what’s politely referred to as a “noob.” This is because my level of passion for the band is minuscule compared to scores of Phish fans who have attended hundreds of concerts, and whose devotion extends back to the 80s, the decade when the improv-based rock quartet formed in Burlington, Vermont. One thing that will undoubtedly bring together Phish fans of all backgrounds and levels of dedication is the new documentary “Between Me and My Mind,” which offers an unprecedented look into the private life and artistic process of the band’s lead guitarist, singer, and primary songwriter, Trey Anastasio. Convincing Anastasio to open up Directed by seasoned documentary filmmaker Steve Cantor, the film chronicles nearly two years in the life of Anastasio, as he balances the busy touring schedule of Phish with side projects like the Trey Anastasio Band and the experimental rock group “Ghosts of the Forest.” In the spring of 2019, the latter released an album inspired by the terminal cancer diagnosis of one of Anastasio’s childhood friends. The nine-song work also inspired a limited tour of live performances. “Between Me and My Mind” uses the real-time creation of “Ghosts” as the musical and narrative backbone of the documentary. Foto: Trey Anastasio in a scene from “Between Me and My Mind”sourceTrafalgar ReleasingThe crew follows Trey in an unfiltered, cinéma-vérité style as he embarks on a series of emotional encounters with with his closest family members, including each of his parents, his longtime wife Sue, and his two daughters. Faced with the inevitability of his friend’s diagnosis, it’s apparent that Anastasio has been forced to face his own mortality, motivating him to reflect and reconcile with his loved ones. In an interview with INSIDER, the film’s director Steven Cantor described the process of convincing Anastasio to give the crew the level of personal access seen in the film. “I think it has to be a mutual level of trust and wanting to dive into it,” Cantor said. “Once we get past that hurdle, it tends to be no holds barred. And that was certainly the case with Trey. Cantor continued, “In the beginning he was like, ‘Why would I ever want to make a documentary? My life is perfect. Phish is on fire right now. Why would I want to put anything at risk in the documentary?’ And once he got over that fear and decided he wanted to share his creative process, there was no holding back at all. It was full access to anything we wanted and no question was too difficult.” 20 years later: A new documentary This isn’t the first time that members of Phish have allowed a documentary crew to be immersed in the backstage realm of the normally-reclusive band. In 1997, a then relatively-unknown filmmaker named Todd Phillips followed the group for the better part of a year, resulting in the 2000 documentary “Bittersweet Motel.” Foto: Trey Anastasio in a scene from the 2000 documentary “Bittersweet Motel”sourceBittersweet FilmsAlthough the film saw a very limited run at the box office, the DVD became a must-own for Phish fans, and Phillips went on to direct box office smashes like “Old School,” “The Hangover” trilogy, and the upcoming “Joker” movie starring Joaquin Phoenix. There are distinct ways that “Between Me and My Mind” stands apart from the other Phish documentary. “‘Bittersweet Motel’ was 20 years ago,” Producer Jamie Schutz told INSIDER. “They were in a much different place in their career. They were in a much different place in their maturity and their creativity. Twenty years later, Trey has changed quite a bit.” The road to recovery The new documentary deals with the fallout of some of the wild behavior that’s seen from a safe distance in the 2000 film, which includes footage of Anastasio taking liquor shots and a large swig from a champagne bottle before taking the stage for a New Year’s Eve performance in 1997. In 2007, Anastasio pleaded guilty to a reduced felony drug charge after being arrested in late 2006 for possession of heroin and other drugs, as well as driving while intoxicated after being pulled over in Whitehall, New York. Foto: Trey Anastasio in a scene from “Between Me and My Mind”sourceTrafalgar Releasing According to a January interview with GQ, Trey has remained sober since the incident, and has become an outspoken advocate for the Drug Court system. One of the most powerful scenes in “Between Me and My Mind” occurs when a man approaches Anastasio on the street to share his experience with addiction and recovery. A must-see for Phish fans While “Between Me and My Mind” definitely features a uniquely intense and emotional level of access to Trey’s personal life and artistic process, there is still plenty of fun to be had, especially when the other three members of Phish are involved. Foto: Members of the rock group Phish share a meal in a scene from the documentary “Between Me and My Mind”sourceTrafalgar Releasing The film’s additional narrative arc chronicles the band’s preparation for its elaborate New Year’s Eve “gag” during its 2017 New Year’s Eve performance at Madison Square Garden – a venue where, earlier that year, the group played 13 consecutive sold-out shows in a now-legendary run known as “The Baker’s Dozen.” Following the same structure we see in his meetings with family members, Anastasio meets with each member of Phish one-on-one to share his Cecil B. Demille-like vision for the eventual performance. It’s in these scenes, and those in which the band comes together to rehearse, where we see that the same energy and goofy humor that permeates the film’s nearly 20-year-old predecessor has not diminished at all. It’s extremely likely that the DVD of “Between Me and My Mind” will rightfully take its place next to “Bittersweet Motel” on the shelves of Phish fans across the entire spectrum of fandom, even those of noobs like me. “Between Me and My Mind” will be screened on Wednesday in movie theaters across the country in a one-night-only theatrical event. Official plans for the movie to be available on streaming platforms and home video have yet to be announced. The post How filmmakers convinced Phish front man Trey Anastasio to open up about his addiction, arrest, and the future of the epic band appeared first on Business Insider Nederland.
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