Seems everyone's getting into the alcohol business these days, from Olivia Newton-John and Dan Aykroyd to Ludacris and Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. The difference is that Keenan is actually hands-on with his winery, while we're guessing the Grease and Ghostbusters celebs aren't getting their manicured nails dirty trimming vines or mashing grains.
Filmmakers Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke followed Keenan and mentor Eric Glomski for a year, chronicling the production of one vintage from beginning to end for the documentary film Blood Into Wine, opening February 19 with a red carpet premiere at Scottsdale's W Hotel (currently sold out, though you can catch the flick at Tempe's Harkins Valley Art Cinema the following week).
We got an advance look at the film last week. It's pretty fascinating, even if you're not a wine lover. Page and Pomerenke do a nice job of documenting the history and workings of the winery (first documented beautifully by our own Michele Laudig in 2008 -- we would have liked to see her make a film!) while capturing Keenan's offbeat sense of humor in skits like the opening "Focus on Interesting Things" faux talk show (see the trailer for a sneak peek). We caught up with local filmmaker Ryan Page, previously of Moog and The Heart is a Drum Machine and got the inside scoop on Maynard Keenan and the making of the flick.
The Perks of Being a Filmmaker (besides fame, fortune or adoring groupies)
Page: I wanted to sit on a vineyard for a year and make a film and learn about how to make wine. The cool thing about being a documentarian is that when you have an interest in something, you don't have to live your life that way, but you get to dive in for a year and learn all the cool things. Then you can jump out and do something else.
The Right Tool for the Job
My partner Christopher and I heard that Maynard had moved to Jerome in 1996. We were excited that the lead singer of Tool moved to Arizona. We're not huge Tool fanatics, but we can appreciate Tool. We were just excited that an artist of his caliber moved to Arizona -- of all places Jerome, a ghost town in Northern Arizona.
A Reluctant Star
Maynard didn't want to do it. He's a mysterious kind of guy. He's extremely reclusive. He doesn't like the press. He doesn't like cameras following him around. It took us a year to convince him to make the film. We had to break him down.
We talked with Eric Glomski, his winemaking partner, and basically Eric helped push Maynard over the edge.
If Vince Neil Can Do It...
We're not fanboys making a film on Maynard from Tool; we're trying to do something real. Vince Neil makes wine, for god's sake, and I doubt Vince Neil is ever pruning vines or blending wine. Probably a lot of people think Maynard isn't doing that either.
There's a perception of celebrities lending their names to food and beverage products. We knew Maynard was actually digging in the dirt with his hands.
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We thought it would be funny and interesting to wrap Maynard and Eric into the history of Arizona. We did hire the official state historian...that was scripted. Nothing else was scripted.
There's this part of the film, a talk show called "Focus on Interesting Things." Maynard did not know what he was walking into that day. We told Tim and Eric to just give Maynard hell, and they did. Maynard does enjoy comedy -- he was even a stand-up comedian once.
Maynard's Toilet Humor
We realized we didn't have anything about why he's making wine. We asked him to do an interview we said we need you to do an interview about why you got into wine, why you're passionate about this and he asked if he could do that on the toilet. That wasn't scripted either.
A Film by Any Other Name
We almost called the film "Wine is a Time Machine." I read in an interview with Maynard in an in-flight magazine where he said that when you open a wine from 1945 it's like a time capsule. There's air in there from 1945. It's an amazing thing.