Focus on Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Part 1: Todd Who?

Melbourne’s own documentary film festival launched this year to showcase some incredible documentary filmmaking talent.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a 3 day film festival and runs from 9th – 11th July 2016.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at three films screening during with festival through a series of exclusive article written directly by the film’s maker.

In part one of the series we’ll be taking a look at Todd Who?

Todd Who? Cinema Australia Poster

Todd Who?

Written by Gavin Bond (co-director)

There’s nothing more frustrating than being a fan of an unheralded hero.

Having been an obsessive and geographically isolated devotee of veteran American rock musician Todd Rundgren for over 30 years, I thought it was high time to try to educate the uninitiated and, maybe, even recruit some new followers.

As a result, my filmmaking mate Ian Abercromby and I set about making a modest but passionate documentary that informs viewers of the many facets of Rundgren’s remarkable  40 year ground-breaking career.

After having viewed and savoured big screen fan- generated tributes “Searching for Sugarman” and “Springsteen and I”, I decided to tell my own unique story of unwavering fanaticism and devotion.

Ian "Molly" Meldrum

Ian “Molly” Meldrum

With no prospect of any funding support, Ian and I decided to follow-up our debut doco “Buff” in 2012, with a self-financed unconventional, heartfelt but light-hearted rockumentary.  “Todd Who?”  is definitely not intended to be a definitive and episodic “life and times of Todd Rundgren” but is an Australian flavoured character study piece that is designed to entertain and inform.

The film poses the question just why isn’t Todd Rundgren more widely recognised and then attempts to rectify this inexplicable mystery by providing viewers with a comprehensive list of his  diverse achievements.   “Todd Who?” not only addresses Rundgren’s extensive array of solo recordings and albums as a producer (Meat Loaf, Patti Smith, Badfinger, XTC, Hall & Oates)  but it follows the artist’s pivotal role in advancing music production technology and the evolution of cross media possibilities.

Our aptly titled flick (I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “Todd Who?) humbly started off as a bright n’ breezy 30 min short film that consisted of  my self-deprecating Mike Moore-esque narration, fan snapshots, a handful of archival music clips and some hastily filmed interviews with Aussie musicians and music industry icons.

Daryl Braithwaite

Daryl Braithwaite

These interviews included stalking…I mean….chatting with  Ian “Molly” Meldrum and Daryl Braithwaite during their annual Telethon visit in Perth in 2013, discussing Rundgren’s production prowess with Dragon’s Todd Hunter and gushing over his eclectic discography with You Am I’s Davey Lane. Our filming was capped off with Rundgren’s surprise serendipitous 2013 tour on the East coast of Australia where I was able to talk to the man himself backstage at a gig at Lizottes in Newcastle.

After several crushing rejections, “Todd Who” played as a short at The Perth Film Fringe fest in 2014 and then was accepted at 6 independent film fests in the U.S.

These contrasting film fests took place in Muskogee Ok, Memphis TN, Chagrin Cl, Woodstock NY, Asbury Park NJ and Chicago IL. “Todd Who?” nabbed the award for Best Short Music Documentary at Muskogee and scooped the Best Documentary prize in Memphis.

While we were traversing the United States we were then able to interview Paul Shaffer from The David Letterman Show, Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick and rock historian Paul Myers (brother of Mike) who is the author of my personal bible A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio.

Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren

By the end of 2015 we had finally edited and completed our feature length version ,that includes new  footage and interviews from the US, that we believe still retains the short version’s style, mood and appeal.

“Todd Who?” is now lucky enough to make its world premiere at the upcoming inaugural Melbourne Documentary Film Festival at Howler Art Space in Brunswick on Monday 11th July.

Hopefully local audiences will appreciate our doco’s quirky humour and revelatory subject matter and may even be convinced  to sign up to the Australian Todd Rundgren Appreciation Society of which I am self-appointed president and sole member.

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