A Conversation with Award-winning Director Robert Fritz.
Robert Fritz is a prominent filmmaker who has won more than 140 awards for feature films and documentaries from film festivals around the world, including 11 awards for Party on the Moon: The Movie. We recently had a conversation with Robert about his motivation behind the movie, what he learned along the way and what audiences should expect. We hope you enjoy this insider’s view of the making of our first movie. (Please stay tuned to our blog for the link to the movie itself – coming soon!)
Q. What was your inspiration for creating a movie about Party on the Moon?
A. “I thought there was a special story here. There are a lot of music documentaries out there, but no other film tells the story of a band like this one does. You hear musicians talking shop and gain insight into what they go through and how they think. By the end of the film, you really get to know the people featured and understand what it takes to be that wonderful.”
Q. What can you tell us about the film?
A. “In terms of getting a flavor the way the film works… At first you meet the band quickly. You have a really wonderful story from Dennis Smith on how he and Ed Duncan formed Party on the Moon. They had a vision and stayed with it, even when they did not make a profit for the first few years. Dennis and Ed were investing in an idea. Their vision was so much stronger than the circumstances that were telling them it could not work… and they got it to work! It’s quite impressive. They are the originals of the high-end cover party band.”
Q. What was your goal for the film?
A. “When I started this process, I didn’t know it would be a feature. I set out to tell a story and the length would be determined by the story itself. There were many layers to the Party on the Moon story and team, so we ended with a documentary feature-length film. Take the bus driver, Robert “Buzz” Morton. He is a key member of the team and he is incredible. He has been on amazing tours with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffet and he helps tell our story. Buzz talked about how the musicians have included him and how the Party on the Moon team is like being a part of a family – it says a lot about their persona and values.”
Q. What was your creation process like?
A. “I directed the movie with a simple narration. The music scenes were given to me and I knew what I was after. I went to a few performances with the band, one in Georgia and then traveled on the tour bus to South Carolina, where I shot a little of that show. So, I got to see two versions of their three-hour, non-stop show, along with what goes into rehearsals, set up and breakdown.
Renowned photographer David Rams was also on this tour, so we used his images and then animated them…this element lends a nice quality in telling the story and the visual pleasure of watching those gorgeous shots and people moving for the camera is fantastic.
I was probably the right person to do this movie because of my music background and my relationship with Dennis and the way we have collaborated in the past. I was very honored to be able to do this film.”
Q. What did you find impressive about this experience?
A. “I have been in the music business for a long time. I have degrees in music composition. I taught at Berklee, New England Conservatory, and I am a composer and musician, as well as a filmmaker. When I went to Party on the Moon’s rehearsal, I was amazed how quickly they put together arrangements and harmonies. I have never seen a group be that quick and good with each other. Within 10 – 20 minutes, they had created a whole arrangement of songs, including horn and vocal selections. It was quite impressive.
I was also impressed by Dennis’ acoustic guitar playing, which is not typically part of Party on the Moon performances. I asked Dennis to bring his guitar in and start playing, and he was incredible. When we screened the movie for the band, they applauded loudly after seeing that scene…they hadn’t heard him play that way.
Dennis is always moving forward. He is so creative with so many ideas and vision, but also, he is really very humble. This guy is such a great musician…he is completely understated in his persona while playing the “heck” out of anything.”
Q. What do you want audiences to walk away with after watching the movie?
A. “An experience of having been to a Party on the Moon concert. An experience of understanding what it takes to be that good. An experience of the creative process. The joy of the music itself. Party on the Moon’s music is incredible. Their choreography is just spectacular. The quality of the movie is the music. It is the proof in the pudding.”
Q. What did you learn about Party on the Moon from making this movie?
“How amazing and great the Party on the Moon team is and how nice they are. They are great, great, great musicians… and sweethearts, too.”
In addition to filmmaking,Robert Fritz is also a composer, author of the international bestseller “The Path of Least Resistance” and an organizational consultant and founder of Robert Fritz Inc. To learn more about Robert, please visit https://www.robertfritz.com/wp/about-us/.