How a documentary maker living in California fell in love with Kansas City all over again.

This Film Could Be Your Band’s Life 

How a documentary maker living in California fell in love with Kansas City all over again.

Our tawdry little town is infamous for its boomerang effect. You know this, kids. You can strike out on your own and seek your fortune in a bigger city. Burn every g'damn bridge you ever crossed. But more often than not, you're coming back. Filmmaker Bob Moczydlowsky is a 32-year-old Colorado native and a Los Angeles resident, but he spent his formative years in Kansas City. Now he's making a documentary about our local music scene.

Half live performance, half interview, the finished project (untitled so far) will feature 20 bands and more than 70 local musicians discussing roadside breakdowns, shitty day jobs and how it feels to play to crowds of 10 or 10,000.

Moczydlowsky's quest began just over a year ago. Outpost Pictures, a local video production company, shot City Sessions, a short-lived, talk-show-style program, for the Dish Network; it spotlighted music scenes across the United States, including Nashville and New York City. Moczydlowsky tried to convince Outpost to produce a KC episode.

"For a million reasons, it didn't happen," he says. "I went on to other stuff, but it was always in the back of my mind to do something with KC-Lawrence bands."

Luckily, the OxBlood Records Showcase came along.

Last February, the Record Bar hosted two nights with 12 of the best from our scene, including beautiful and lugubrious ensemble In the Pines, Lawrence indie popsters Ghosty and old-school rockers the Pedaljets. The concert was in celebration of the upstart label's kickass compilation, First Blood. With all those bands in one place for two days, it looked like Moczydlowsky's dream could become a reality. Outpost gave him the all-clear to start filming with two of its high-def cameras for three days.

During daylight, Moczydlowsky conducted interviews with musicians in the bar's basement green room. Upstairs, a changing cast of 72 rockers milled around, waiting for their 15 minutes.

Moczydlowsky enlisted another former Kansas Citian, San Francisco-based photographer Brandon Joseph Baker, to snap each subject's portrait.

Moczydlowsky ended up with 11 hours of interviews and two full nights of concert footage.

When he returned to Los Angeles, he looked over the tapes with his editor and realized he had something pretty special.

"We were euphoric," he says.

Searching for common threads, he found that the documentary would be far more powerful if it was about the artists' struggles rather than being a simple showcase of local talent.

"There's good bands everywhere," he says. "Trying to get people to watch it with a the-bands-in-my-town-are-awesome mentality is a hard thing to do."

In a daring twist, he decided to mask the city's identity until the end of the film.

"The reflected glow will be on KC," he says. "People will be curious about this town if we do this right, and they'll want to investigate it more."

Some of the most compelling interviews were from people who didn't perform. Moczydlowsky cites Sean Ingram of newly reunited noisecore brute Coalesce, Life and Times frontman Allen Epley and Blackpool Lights drummer Billy Brimblecom as people who were especially touching in their candor.

In a stroke of luck, those three bands agreed to play a second filmed Record Bar show this Saturday, along with Lawrence indie band Appleseed Cast, the spaztastic Beautiful Bodies, unrefined rockers the Rich Boys and quirky songstress Sal Retta. As a bonus to an already impressive lineup, Moczydlowsky is going to share some rough clips of the doc. After Thanksgiving, he'll submit a low-res cut to a couple of film festivals.

"If it gets into one of those festivals, it'll show in the spring and we'll have a KC screening by then," he says.

Festivals or no, the process of making the film has been its own reward for Moczydlowsky.

"My wife told me that this is like my love letter to Kansas City, and the reason I made it is because I broke up with KC and didn't want to," he says.

Don't worry, Bob. This town'll take you back.

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