Being a veteran of the live music scene, I have noticed an unfortunate trend among fellow concert goers. People tend to willingly disconnect themselves from the musicians they see performing. It’s almost like they treat them as a product,

RosettaAudioVisual_Doc_Review_Interview1assuming “satisfaction is guaranteed” and instantly writing them off if any imperfections are accidentally revealed.

These people lack the insight into what it takes to be in a band and the constant struggle it is to stay afloat and this is why I was overly anxious for the release of “Rosetta: Audio/Visual”, a project by filmmaker Justin Jackson. When the film debuted on Christmas Day of 2014 and I was finally able to peek into the lives of one of my favorite post-metal bands, I knew that this was an experience that needed to be shared with not only fans of Rosetta, but fans of live music in general.

“Rosetta: Audio/Visual” takes you through the everyday life of Mike Armine, Dave Grossman, BJ McMurtine and Matt Weed and their struggle to fund themselves as a working class band. However, it also documents a colossal step in the life of Rosetta as they decide to self-release their latest album, The Anaesthete, due to unfortunate issues with their previous label, Translation Loss Records. Looking back on the various musicians and bands that I’ve come to adore, it’s RosettaAudioVisual_Doc_Review_Interview2strangely not uncommon to hear them recall their bad experience with a particular label. But what makes this particular story stand out is Rosetta         vocalizing their effort to maintain friendship throughout the ordeal, having been friends with the founders of Translation Loss Records, Drew Juergens and Christian Mckenna, prior to signing with them. It shows a lot about Rosetta’s character and how their motivation to succeed is far from fueled by money. It’s all about the love of music and the love they have for the people in their lives. Although, this is not to say that they don’t need money. The film also revealed that the future of Rosetta was riding on the success of The Anaesthete and goes on to document the production, release and the fans’ reactions to the new record.

If more people had insight into the lives of their favorite independent bands and musicians to see all that is takes to fuel their passion, I think they would be more likely to support them. Especially in an age where most would rather not own anything physical.

Musicians should make their stories heard.
And fans should listen.

I actually got a chance to ask Justin Jackson a few questions about the journey of making “Rosetta: Audio/Visual” and his experience throughout.


Justin Jackson

How long did it take you to put this project together?
“This film took four years to complete. It was originally envisioned as a 10-20 minute chronicle of Rosetta. Once I became aware of Rosetta’s desire to self-release their own music, I knew that the film would have to be feature-length.”

What are the biggest obstacles you encountered during the making of this documentary?
“There are two challenges that stick out to me more than others. The first obstacle was a licensing issue. I had several conversations with Translation Loss, Rosetta’s record label, about licensing the rights to Rosetta’s studio recordings. Ultimately, we could not come to an agreement. This meant that I had to find ways to communicate what that material sounded like without being able to use any of the studio masters. We acquired demos from the band and various video taped performances from a number of fans and camera operators. After we had inserted these performances and demos into the film, our sound designer, J.M. Davey, had to master/mix everything so it sounded pleasing and like it came from the same source; we put in a great deal of effort to mix third party material in such a way that it all sounded like it came from a studio recording. Had the band, fans, and camera operators not given us these field recordings, Rosetta: Audio/Visual wouldn’t be the film that it is.

The second challenge was a structural one. With Rosetta: Audio/Visual, I wanted to make a film where Rosetta’s recording history was a sub plot and not the arc plot. I happened to be at the right place/right time when Rosetta decided to leave Translation Loss in order to self-finance and self-release their own music. While the band was recording the Anaesthete, I learned that Rosetta would have to go an indefinite hiatus if the album did not recoup studio costs. This put the filmmaking team in a fortunate position because Rosetta’s decision to leave the label meant there would be a complete story with three acts and an inciting incident. All of Rosetta’s musical history and accomplishments gave us an abundance of positive scenes that could interrupt the main plot if things got too heavy or tense within the narrative. James E. Jackson (co-writer/co-producer), Jeremy Brunson (editor/co-producer), and I spent a good deal of time plotting the story and creating a structure with alternating story values. There was a dearth of material to shape, sculpt, revise, and refine. We had our work cut out for us and we really pushed ourselves as writers. However, being faced with an abundance of story and subplots was a blessing and is always a positive thing. We were very fortunate with the amount of access Rosetta gave us and for being able to capture a career defining decision in their history.”

What are your hopes for Rosetta: Audio/Visual?
“Somewhere during production and post-production, a film takes on a life of its own and tells the filmmaker what it wants, what it needs, and what it is.  It is my hope that Rosetta: Audio/Visual is seen by as many people as possible, inspires audience members, and finds a way into viewers’ hearts. Most importantly, I want to help Rosetta: Audio/Visual be the film it wants to be. While production, post-production, and the film’s release have already happened, my work is not done. I have to apply myself in getting the word out about this film and help it find an audience. ”

Would you consider doing another music documentary? If so, which band?
“I would. There are several bands that interest me as a filmmaker. I’d love to capture Baroness telling their story, it would be really powerful. Deftones would be amazing documentary subjects. Pelican and Pygmy Lush would be great. Alice in Chains would be a dream project as they are my favorite band of all-time.

I’m currently prepping my next film, Neuroscience: Fruit Flies Can Save the World, a feature-length documentary about neuroscientist Sokol Todi and his quest to discover the protein that causes Ataxia 3 by using fruit flies. Sokol is Albanian-born and has led a very rich and fascinating life. He is one of the most giving and genuine people I have ever met. I cannot think of a more worthy documentary subject.”

Here is the trailer for Justin Jackson’s new documentary Rosetta:Audio/Visual:

If you’re interested in watching the documentary, it’s available for instant streaming and download for only $2.99. But if you want to get super fancy, the standard edition and special edition DVDs will be available for pre-order with an approximate shipping date of Mid-May (Standard) and Mid-June (Special Edition).

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Rosetta: Audio/Visual Review/Interview – April 22nd 2015