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Discovering ‘The Other F Word’: DIY Spirit Drives Production on the Punk Rock Documentary

What happens when a generation’s ultimate anti-authoritarians become society’s ultimate authority figures? With a large chorus of punk rock’s leading men-turned-fathers—including Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath, and Greg Hetson of the Circle Jerks, Redd Kross and Bad Religion—The Other F Word follows Jim Lindberg, a 20-year veteran of the skate punk band Pennywise, on his hysterical and moving journey from belting out his band’s anthem, “F**k Authority,” to embracing his mid-life role as a father.

The Other F Word Official Theatrical Trailer
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Each of the musicians interviewed for the documentary offers a unique take on the events that took him away from outright rebellion and into more settled terrain: Black Flag front man Ron Reyes condemns the brutish attitude of the scene, while both Everclear’s Art Alexakis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea consider the impact of their neglectful fathers on their own family commitments.

The Other F Word premiered at Sundance in March 2011 and is screening at festivals and theaters around the country prior to its DVD release at the end of the month. The filmmakers collected more than 200 hours of interviews and archival footage over the course of the project, which took nearly three years to complete.

Director of photography Geoffrey Franklin, who also served as editor for the project, used Canon’s XH A1, a low-level two-watt lighting kit and a Sennheiser wireless microphone system to capture interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

“Our production team was very lean,” comments director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins. “We felt that shooting these people in their own environments, where they would be comfortable, was crucial, and we wanted to do it in a way that was true to the punk spirit and DIY mindset that they embrace.”

We tried to make the production as low-impact as possible on the people we were interviewing,” Franklin adds. “Some of our subjects were more timid than others, so it was important to tread lightly with them and not overcrowd their space.”

Inspired by Lindberg’s book Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life, The Other F Word was originally conceived as the story of the ex-Pennywise front man’s journey to fatherhood and the compromises he makes along the way, but when Lindberg realized how much access to his private life Nevins and Franklin would need for the film, he balked, and the filmmaking team had to scramble to enlist additional punk rock dads into the project. “Every single project you work on comes with its own set of parameters,” Nevins says. “Jimmy couldn’t give us access to everything we wanted, so we ended up having to interview a whole bunch of fathers in order to get the story arc we needed.”

“I really learned to trust Andrea during this process because she has vastly more experience with this type of storytelling,” Franklin comments. “It was an enormous learning curve. I had to learn to listen, react and change the story as we learned more things.”

Nevins’ background includes work as a journalist, with stints at NPR’s All Things Considered, the New York Times and ABC News, in addition to her documentary filmmaking pedigree. In 1997, she produced the Academy Award-nominated documentary short “Still Kicking.” The Other F Word marks her feature-length directorial debut.

With more than 200 hours of footage to work with, the Other F Word filmmaking team spent nearly three months screening the material and creating a script for editing in Apple Final Cut Pro. “That was definitely the scary part,” says Franklin, who was editing his first feature-length project. “There was so much great footage that it made it difficult to make editorial choices. I learned to default to the story.”

“We found that working with a script was very helpful to the project,” Nevins continues. “We transcribed every single interview and pieced together a story from the transcript book as we screened the footage. There were so many stories to interweave and we needed to make sure that the audience got to know each character and that their stories were being told as well as possible.”

Archival footage shot in mostly SD formats presented another problem, which the filmmakers solved with the use of a Teranex converter. To achieve a consistent look among the various formats, the documentary was finished at LaserPacific by colorist Gareth Cook.

“The majority of our budget went for postproduction and music rights,” Nevins says. “When we finished shooting, we felt like we had done this on a really amazing budget, which fit the spirit of the project. It’s fantastic that, given today’s equipment, you really can tell an entertaining story without breaking the bank.”