Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

'Strongman' Director Zach Levy Takes Distribution Into His Own Hands (TRAILER)

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood October 18, 2013 at 2:28PM

Zach Levy must hold some kind of lofty status in the pantheon of DIY film distribution: In 2010, he took his documentary “Strongman” on a 450-mile tour of small theaters and one-night stands in Maine, doing what he had to get his film not only in front of audiences but -- just this week -- an overdue release on DVD.
0
Zachary Levy
Zachary Levy

Zach Levy must hold some kind of lofty status in the pantheon of DIY film distribution: In 2010, he took his documentary “Strongman” on a 450-mile tour of small theaters and one-night stands in Maine, doing what he had to get his film not only in front of audiences but -- just this week -- an overdue release on DVD.

Oh yeah, and that tour? He did it by bicycle.

“It was great,” Levy recalled his week. “Also, at the time, it was a way to get the film out there. The truth is you could rent a car and pay for gas, but looking at it financially, a bike was the only way that made sense.”

He’s still doing it himself: The release of “Strongman” is with Passion River, but “technically, I’m the distributor,” Levy said. “They take a role as sales agent, putting it into the wholesale market.” The Orchard, he added, is handling the digital release.

Strongman

“Strongman,” which possesses the kind of intimacy that results only from total access and years of filmmaking, is about Stanley “Stanless Steel” Pleskun  -- a guy who bends steel with his bare hands, but can’t quite straighten out his own life. Much like Levy, whose film never strays from its strictly observational, total-immersion approach to its subject’s life, Pleskun is a purist: He can’t bring himself to be huckster, a hustler or a self-promoter. He thinks he should be appreciated for the things he does, which he does better than anyone else –  bending pennies, lifting  dump trucks, or driving nails into boards with his bare hands. But he can’t play the game, and wouldn’t if he could.

Levy has exercised his own brand of obsession in pushing “Strongman,” but it’s paid off in repeat viewers and the attentions of new filmmakers interested in exploring the DIY experience.

“No one’s done a bike tour,” he laughed, “but I get calls from people asking ‘How do we do this?’ When someone overhears you saying you had a 30-city theatrical run and did it by yourself, they prick up their ears. You make a lot of mistakes. I don’t necessarily encourage people to take that road, because there’s no question it’s hard, but for a film like mine it was the only road. How do you get your film out there? DIY can be a way to get a platform.”

He said the film has lasted with a lot of people. “Some will watch it again and again and the only way that happened is that I got it to them in the first place.” Presumably, they’ll buy a DVD, or a download.

And Stanless?  “He’s good, I saw him yesterday,” Levy said. “It’s interesting -- at the time, I filmed him in the strength world, the old-time strength world, they didn’t really know how to place him. He didn’t fit the mold.”  For instance, Pleskun would often attempt to do things he wasn’t sure he could do; if he failed it would just be part of the show. Other guys would never do anything they didn’t know they could do.

“Now there’s this generation of younger guys who look up to him,” Levy said. “I wouldn’t call him an elder statesman, but there’s a line of strongmen whom he’s influenced. They’re all these blue-collar guys. They don’t come from a purely gimmicky tradition.”

This article is related to: Interviews, Interviews , Zachary Levy, Strongman, Documentary, Documentaries, DIY, Distribution


E-Mail Updates