After two decades and over fifty film and television roles as an actress, Regina Russell steps behind the camera as director and producer. A visual artist in many mediums, she has always had a propensity for filmmaking and a deep love of movies. She first worked behind the camera in 2008, making a few shorts and public service announcements, before starting production in 2010 on this documentary. (Press materials)
Her feature debut, the Quiet Riot documentary Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back, debuts at Hot Docs on April 29.
Please give us your description of the film.
Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back is an extremely personal journey of the rise, fall and resurrection of the 80s metal band Quiet Riot through the eyes of drummer and band manager Frankie Banali.
Banali's career took a major sideswipe in 2007 when his lead singer Kevin DuBrow suddenly died of a drug overdose. After several years of mourning his best friend, Banali sets out to make a new life for himself, his daughter, and the band by trying to fill the void left by Kevin and get the band back together one more time.
What drew you to this subject?
For years, I had a few ideas for documentaries that I wanted to direct. Then Frankie told me he was planning to meet with Kevin DuBrow's mother to get her blessing to go on with the band, and I knew that would be an extraordinary story to tell, especially if I could have full access to the personal footage he had been archiving for decades.
What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
As with any documentary, you never know how long it's going to take and when it's truly finished. I could have followed the band and this story forever because it just keeps going. Fitting a thirty-year story into a feature-length format and knowing where to end it was the major challenge.
At points I felt burnt out and desensitized. I started thinking, "Where the heck is this going and is it even going anywhere?" Then we started putting the footage together and something magical happened: it all clicked. That's what I love about documentaries.
What advice do you have for other female directors?
I don't think my advice is gender-specific. For me, my goal is to assemble my dream team. Great indie directors have their teams that they work with film after film. Woody Allen has had all the same crew for years, and he's just one example. I think it would be heavenly to have a team that I know and who know me well enough that we are a well-oiled machine. But that might just be a dream. Other than that, I think just sticking to your vision and having as much control as you can at all costs is the best advice for a director.
Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?
It's a real exciting time for movies and especially good documentaries and independent movies because the digital world has opened up so many more avenues for distribution.
With this [change], the filmmaker is gaining control over the rights to their work. In the future, I think we will all be our own distributors and aggregators. The challenge with that will be the amount of legwork and research to find the business model that's right for each project. What's right for one film is not for another.
The tides are changing so fast in the marketplace it's a huge undertaking just to do the due diligence. We artists like to create and leave the business to someone else so we can go off and create something else. But in this day and age, you do yourself a great disservice if you don't explore all your options and hold out for what's best for you.
Name your favorite women directed film and why.
Boys Don't Cry and Monster were both directed by brilliant women and delivered some of the most masterful performances by women. Another favorite is The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola. She adapted it herself and the script was perfection. The movie captures these characters and the 1970s with such a dreamy and intoxicating feel. Directors who have a keen sense of the perfect piece of music for their scenes tend to be favorites of mine. Other favorites are The Hurt Locker, Rambling Rose, Little Man Tate, Swept Away, Bridget Jones's Diary and The Piano.