As usual, local filmmaker Nico Holthaus has set up an unenviable task for himself. On the party weekend before Halloween, he's scheduled a premiere of the final cut of Art Edward's fictionalized love letter to the Tempe music scene of the early '90s, Stuck Outside of Phoenix, at the Pollack Tempe Cinemas.
There was already an air of Trick or Treat encircling Holthaus' production like a witch on a broom bender last May, when Holthaus was wrapping up filming on Stuck. Rumors began to spread: People, some of whom were actually involved in the production, became convinced this was an actual account of the Tempe scene, or that Holthaus had cast himself as Doug Hopkins and besmirched the Gin Blossoms guitarist's memory.
This round of telephone got even more garbled when Robin Wilson alluded to an upcoming Doug Hopkins biopic in an interview with Rolling Stone.
"There's some sort of a dramatization of the whole scene that's being done. Some of my close friends have turned their back on the project. I wouldn't want to support it at this point," Wilson said. Many believed he was talking about Stuck.
While Edwards wrote in a minor character loosely based on Doug Hopkins, he certainly isn't the focal point of the movie. Another on-again, off-again production about Doug Hopkins is in the works; it began production around the time Holthaus launched Stuck's Kickstarter campaign.
Sara Bennewitz, Hopkins' sister, confirms this. "There is a long-rumored big-screen movie in the works about Doug himself. In fact, I'm meeting again with that producer next week." As for Stuck, she says she's a fan of Holthaus' work and the new movie. "I was fully aware that Nico's project was not a movie about Doug. And I thought that he did an admirable job playing that character, considering Doug had some big-ass boots to fill."
A rough cut of the movie premiered at the Pollack Tempe Cinemas this past May might have silenced some of the murmurs; any Gin Blossoms fan now snubbing this date-friendly film is missing out on a lot of treats, including a soundtrack of 23 songs from that period by the likes of Dead Hot Workshop, Gentlemen Afterdark, Beats the Hell Outta Me, The Mojo Farmers before they were The Mojo Farmers, Doug Hopkins with the Chimeras, and the Gin Blossoms themselves.
The Gin Blossoms cuts include "Undone," a never-mixed, never-released outtake Robin Wilson wrote a few days after Doug was dismissed from the band. Robert Becker, who played keyboards on the New Miserable Experience sessions at Ardent Studios in Memphis, says, "I know of some really great songs that just never made it out of the studio or basic practice sessions for one reason or another. It was a chaotic time, with people trying to keep the direction consistent with their own personal vision."
While Becker has not seen the movie yet, his own memories of that time are less about a scene than the people who created it.
"It definitely put Tempe on the national map, but mostly it was a group of us who found ourselves together out of common interests and the desire to simply make music because there was little else to do other than work dead-end record store or day labor jobs."
Fittingly, interest in the as-yet-unavailable soundtrack could be what leads to the film snaring a distributor.
Says Holthaus, "I'm talking to a major company that's really interested in the soundtrack. In the industry [now], everything is ass-backwards. I've been told there are companies that will buy the soundtrack, realize it's tied to a movie, and throw money at the movie as a backend, as an afterthought."
People who are going to this floating costume party movie premiere are advised to dress for the period if they like.
"Flannel. Wear some Doc Martens and flannel," says Holthaus.
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