“I got into documentary filmmaking because I see it as writing for the 21st century. I love music a lot, and I’m always super interested in the stories behind, and the stories in front of our faces. I just think documentary filmmaking is an emerging form that is really exciting in terms of narrative, in terms of archive, and approach.”
While discussing Danny Say, Toller explained the film’s importance and message:
“The language of cinema, and form of cinema certainly lends its abilities to having an audience member really engage and get within the music. In Danny Says we are using a lot of archival components, about 60% of the film is from Danny Fields’ archive, and what a lot of that is, is unseen pictures and documents. The revelation for viewers, I think, is the tape recorded phone conversations, like Lou Reed talking about listening to the Ramones for the first time, phone calls with Iggy Pop from 1968 on—you really get a sense of the time and place and cadence of how people talked and interacted with one another. We’re super lucky that Danny did that. It was a Warhol thing, sort of brought to the surface by Bridgid Berlin, who was really into forms of instantaneous—whether it be her polaroids or recorded phone conversations—she was a pioneer in that sense.”
Also noting how he received all of the American journalist’s information, Toller explained:
“Danny Fields never threw anything away, which is a gift and burden to any documentary filmmaker. I think it was just for him—he knew that these were priceless materials and that a lot of the people on them were important to culture in the latter half of the 20th century. That they should be preserved. Thankfully the cassettes survived, I did spend a good deal of time patching up certain ones with scotch tape, but I don’t think there was an overall grand scheme or plan when he was recording them in 1968. I think he just thought, oh maybe 20 years from now this will be a hoot to listen to, and a lot of them are.”
“I think it’s his ability to create context, whether that be for just a person in general, or an artist, or even in his own storytelling, he has a great way of shaping and framing a subject. The stories are there—in Danny Says they are really vivid, really descriptive. He’s really ironic and funny with words, and I think a lot of the storytelling, people are saying, is unpretentious, because it’s not about him and it’s not about sizing himself up. It’s really a behind the scenes look at how a context was created for these freak artists.“In Danny’s oeuvre, if you look at them all, there were not bidding wars for these artists, there were not other rock’n’roll record executives going and chasing Iggy Pop when he was in the union student ballroom wearing a maternity dress with face paint playing a vacuum. or Joey Ramone, seven feet tall, wearing a leather jacket and doing these songs that were just unheard of at the time.“Danny created the argument for these artists to exist, and why they’re important. The amazing thing about that is he turned out to have been right. These bands are the American alternative underground, and every modern band owes a great debt to their sound.”
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