The makers of “One Nine Nine Four” on the making of the documentary

7 mins read

The makers of “One Nine Nine Four” have posted a tumblr entry about the making of the documentary, which focuses on the grow and explosion of 90’s punk rock.

They state:

So we were made aware last week that our documentary has leaked onto the internet. This has provided Matt and I(Jai) with mixed feelings; on one side it’s potentially a missed opportunity to have it released officially & never make back our investment but on the other it seems to be really striking a chord with people and that’s what we always intended to do in the first place. First and foremost we don’t consider ourselves “Film Makers” or “Artists” – we were just compelled to tell the story of the Bands that we grew up listening to, I can honestly say that spending months on end hearing everyone’s view that was involved in the 90’s punk scene was one of the best experiences of my life and as a fan it doesn’t get much better than that.

When we thought that we were putting it out on DVD like 4 years ago, we had this idea to film another mini documentary and add it as a bonus feature on the actual making of the film and tell the story of how ONE NINE NINE FOUR was actually created. The reason why we thought this might be interesting is because we actually didn’t know any of these bands we had planned to interview, we were so young and green, had never made a feature length documentary before and realistically had absolutely no fucking idea what we were doing – we still don’t. However for the most part we somehow managed to pull it together and had one of the amazing experiences ever, it might have been an expensive exercise for Matt and Myself but we’ll never regret it.

So this blog is to tell the stories that we were going to do on the DVD bonus feature that we’re unable to do unless it one day does get a proper release. Hopefully you find them insightful, inspiring or just plain entertaining as we take you through our experiences as then 22 year old kids from Australia making their first ever feature length documentary in the US on the 90’s punk rock bands we grew up listening to.

The Idea

I’m pretty sure it was Dogtown & Z Boys that sparked the interest in me to want to make a similar film but on 90’s punk rock. I grew up watching surf and skate videos and that introduced me to alot of my favourite punk bands from that era – Blink 182, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Millencolin, NOFX, Lagwagon, Unwritten Law to name a few. From there I figured out that most of them were either signed to Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph so it made finding other bands easy; Strung Out, No Use For A Name, Rancid, Ten Foot Pole were all purchases made based on the label on the back of the CD.

This would have been around 2005, I was working on my indie label, Below Par, full time and one of my bands Kisschasy were staying with me at my Parents house. Those guys all had similar music taste to me, Sean especially loved that 90’s surf/skate punk sound and when I told him about the idea for it he loved it but was like how are you going to do it? Honestly I had no idea but I knew the concept was cool and personally I didn’t understand why one hadn’t been made yet. There’s a bunch of music documentaries on punk rock but none of them just focussed on the 90’s and as it didn’t currently exist I thought I’d just create myself it so at the very least I could see it. 

I raised the idea with a couple of people that I knew in Australia but it wasn’t gaining any traction, so I kind of just kept it on the quiet as something that might be cool to do later on, whenever that was. At the same time, Kisschasy were really starting to blow up, my label had done a deal with Eleven which went through EMI and we were all experiencing a bunch of firsts. We had our first Top 20 chart debut, had our first band getting high rotation on commercial radio, our first band with ARIA and MTV nominations and our first gold record – it was really awesome and we were learning so much. During this first album cycle for the band, we decided to do a tour DVD and as I was mucking around with a video camera abit I was sent on tour with them to capture it.

The tour started in Perth, where one of my good friends Matt Wardle who also had his own indie label called Valet Records lived.  He was also good friends with the Kisschasy guys and they usually stayed with him and his family when they were in WA because you know that’s what young poor bands do. We had a great time on the WA leg of the tour and Matt decided to come around on the tour for a little while with us and it was this moment that ONE NINE NINE FOUR was born.

After the WA leg Matt bought a plane ticket on the same flight as me to Melbourne. We were sitting on the plane, drinking a bunch of wine and getting kind of drunk. We were talking about music and what we wanted to do with our lives, I mentioned that even though the label was going great I was really enjoying doing this Kisschasy documentary but I had an idea for another documentary that I wanted to make but didn’t know how to. He prodded me for more information, so I pulled out this booklet from my backpack which I use to take notes and thoughts – I had written a brief synopsis of the film and gave it to Matt to read. He looked over it and was just went “This is fucking awesome, I want to be involved” and I said well how do you think you can help and he said I might be able to get some money for it. I turned to him and said if you can get money for it, you are the producer – so we shook hands and returned to our wine.

Matt came on the tour for awhile with us and eventually left to go back to WA. A few weeks later he calls me and goes “Guess what, I got the money – lets do it”. I couldn’t believe it, as you know funding is usually the hardest part of anything and here we had an idea and some money but still no fucking idea of how to actually get in touch with the bands we wanted to interview. We also didn’t have a name for the film but that wasn’t important to us yet.

Enter Bill Silva – Bill is a very respected promoter and manager who resides in Los Angeles, I met him a few years earlier when I went to LA the very first time at 18 with Matt & Mark from Below Par. We went to meet with him about signing Unwritten Law to our label in Australia, he managed them at the time and basically told us Thank You but they’d just signed to a label called Lava, instead he gave us a track for one of our Caddy Of The Year compilations and became a friend. 

I knew that Bill who had managed Unwritten Law also used to manage Blink 182 with Rick Devoe back in the 90’s, so I emailed him with my film idea and said that we also had funding to make it. He thought it was a great idea but before going any further he suggested that I speak with a film maker friend of his and see what he thinks – so he email introduced me to Stacy Perlata, a man that needs no introduction but for those of you he was one of the original Dogtown skateboarders, started Powell Peralta, created now legendary skateboarding videos and was the writer/director of my favourite documentary Dogtown & Z Boys.

Stacy said he was happy to help me out and have a conversation, I couldn’t believe it, so here I am in Austin for SXSW and I’m walking down 6th St talking to the legendary Stacy Peralta on the phone. It was so surreal his phone voice was exactly the same as how he speaks in Dogtown & Z Boys – it felt like I was listening to the film on the phone. We had a lengthy chat and he gave me some really valuable advice. After our chat, I guess Bill followed up with Stacy to see if I had any idea what I was doing. Stacy backed us and told Bill that he thought I’d be be able to do it, so Bill Silva signed on as our Executive Producer.

So now we had an idea, we had some funding, we had an executive producer and we had a producer and director with no previous experience – awesome. We needed to put together a team, luckily my flat mate at the time was a DOP / editor so we told him we’d fly him to LA, pay him $1000 a week and give him free accommodation while another one of our buddies Chalker really wanted to goto the US so he became our sound guy. Team complete.

Next we had to work out when we were actually going to do this, the timing wasn’t great for me – as we were putting all of this together, our label was gaining a lot of momentum and we were in the process of selling 50% to EMI which meant that I’d have even more responsibility dealing with a major corporation on a daily basis. Also the little tour documentary that I’d made for Kisschasy, actually didn’t turn out that bad, it debuted on the national DVD charts and got nominated for an ARIA award for best DVD release. For a moment there I felt like I was a legitimate film maker…

Now I must interject at no point yet had we actually confirmed ONE interview for the documentary, we had put all of this stuff together but we didn’t have any idea whether or not the Artists would actually want to be part of a documentary on their music scene made by a group of kids with no prior experience from Australia. But for some reason, this just seemed like semantics and unfazed by this thing some people may call a hurdle, we pushed on to block out a 6 week window where we’d fly to the US starting with Sundance where we planned to be with our movie a year later, then head to LA and interview every band we had on our hit list – Green Day, Blink 182, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Unwritten Law, The Offspring, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, The Vandals, Goldfinger, NOFX, Rancid and AFI.

Our next step was to start approaching the bands and we’ll cover this in Part 2…

The documentary is narrated by skateboard legend Tony Hawk and features members of many popular California punk bands such as GREEN DAYBLINK-182BAD RELIGIONPENNYWISETHE OFFSPRINGNOFXRANCIDLAGWAGONNO USE FOR A NAMEUNWRITTEN LAWGOLDFINGER and THE VANDALS. In case you missed out, you can check out a video of the documentary here.


Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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