The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
March 24, 2015 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
Cleveland native Rob Montague always knew he wanted to make movies. Music was his life, but movies are his first love. When he was ready to make his first feature, he wanted to write about something he knew.
“My music career had slowed, and I was working as a waiter,” says Montague. “I decided I’m buying a camera, I’m making something, and it snowballed from there.”
The idea was to make a film about friend Joe Willis’s band, from the making of their record all the way to its release. After talking it through, they decided to involve more bands; so he started calling friends and asking them to do interviews. The resulting film is “Long Way to the Top,” a feature-length documentary that goes behind the scenes to share the trials and tribulations of working musicians.
“I think the audience will connect with the bravery and the struggle that comes from following a dream and loving something so much you have to do it any cost,” he says.
Montague was curious about what inspires musicians to play music, so he interviewed musicians from varying levels of the business. He also followed alternative rock band Grizfolk, independent singer/songwriter David Ramirez, and doom metal favorite, The Sword, across two continents. Three years in the making, “Long Way to the Top,” features interviews with members of Taking Back Sunday, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, and Def Leppard, among others.
“It was so surreal making this film,” says Montague. “I guess the biggest surprise was it felt like home, being on the road. We all really do have the same experience. The details are different but the result is always sacrifice—time, money, love. There’s a ton of risk and unknowns; but you have to live and breathe it to survive. It’s not just about paying the bills; it’s deeper, it’s the need to be a part of something bigger. Connecting.”
Montague has been a member of the CIFF audience in the past, but this is his first screening here.
“It’s very exciting being in my hometown,” he says. “The sense of community is overwhelming.”
As for what’s next, he’s currently developing a few things and growing Late Morning Films, his production company, with Rico Csabai and former tour mate Taylor Wallace.
Montague hopes that audiences watching “Long Way to the Top,” will be reminded that if you love something and have the talent, you can do it. You just have to be willing to go the full mile and not take short cuts.
By following that advice in his own career, Montague is certainly on his way to the top.
— Lisa Curland
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