One of the longest standing rock clubs in Chicago, the Empty Bottle has served as an incubator for many of the largest touring acts in the nation. To celebrate 25 years of live music, Kurt Vile, The Black Lips, Har Mar Superstar & more perform and talk about why The Bottle is so near and dear to their hearts.
Teddy Golden is a filmmaker in Chicago, Illinois. He has a Bachelors Degree in Cinema Arts + Science. Teddy enjoys skateboarding and has a deep love for all card games.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
Films have always had a big impact on me. I can remember movies I watched as a child, more so than I can remember my childhood. Movies like The NeverEnding Story or The Princess Bride captivated me endlessly. There was something magical and unobtainable about these films that kept me in awe. In my teenage years I became obsessed with shitty TV. I remember watching endless episodes of Law & Order SVU and other very predictable and repetitive programming. I wasn’t a very happy kid in high school and these stories offered a type of escapism I found comforting. It wasn’t until my second attempt at college that I began to really study films and appreciate it as a potential career.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
I think film schools are completely unnecessary, however if you can afford it, it can offer you some benefits. It gives you a safe place to make really bad films without hating yourself, and gives you a community of people entering into similar career paths. Additionally, school can give you access to equipment and cameras you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. All of this is helpful and fun, but isn’t worth going into a large amount of debt. Successful film careers are far from guaranteed and I don’t often see film school as a worthy initial investment, especially with all the free material available online.
What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?
There is no other form of storytelling that is as engaging or immersive.
Did you choose a certain directing style for making your film based on the script?
My directing style for this film was very DIY inspired, but wasn’t necessarily a choice. A lot of times bands wouldn’t respond until right before their shows, and I would have to run over to The Bottle to quickly clear some space to film the interviews. Filming shows was very hectic as well. Often the crowds weren’t pleased to have someone blocking their view with a camera, and once you exited the crowd there was almost no way to get close to the stage again. Overall, the style of this film came from me trying to do the best with what I had available.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?
As far as the cast, my goal was to capture the essence of The Empty Bottle. Initially I planned to rely heavily on the staff, but the 25th Anniversary shows offered a more unique path. What better perspective than from the bands that have played there for decades.
I hired Agapito Rodriguez, Rapheal Jones & Sara London to film the interviews and concerts with me. They were the most hardworking and talented people I had access to, so hiring was an easy choice. Jim Tullio is a legend and a family friend. I am very thankful he offered his services, and he did an incredible job with the sound mix. I had no idea how much better a film could get from a proper sound mix. Eli Golden shot a lot of the cinematic tracking shots for the film and I chose him because of his ability to shoot pretty B-Roll and being my brother he offered to do it for free. Tom Puschautz is an amazing Chicago artist who created the poster. I met him at a local skate spot, and have always been impressed by his designs, including his fantastic rugs, so it was a pleasure to collaborate. Finally, I enlisted Abe Zverow, a seasoned video editing extraordinaire to cut the trailer. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.
How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?
At the time this was filmed, I was working as a videographer for the hospitality group that owns the Empty Bottle. There wasn’t a set budget allocated to the film outside of my hired project load as a videographer/digital media specialist. However when occasional expenses came up, my employer invested. The biggest challenge for me was that there was no structure or guidance. There were multiple moments during the edit that I felt completely lost and overwhelmed by all of the possible directions I could take this thing. Ultimately, I am happy with how it ended up and feel, in many ways, it’s an accurate representation of the vibe and atmosphere of The Bottle.
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
I don’t feel that label fits me at the moment. While I think of myself as a filmmaker and creative, I am early in my career and still exploring a variety of roles. The most challenging part of working independently is creating your own opportunities and structure. You really have to put yourself out there, try to network, and maintain relationships in order to remain successful. It is a lot of hard work and filled with tons of disappointment and dead ends.
What is the distribution plan for your film?
I have no structured distribution plan for this film. Thus far I have been taking advantage of sharing The Bottle with festivals and friends. I am so happy that people are enjoying it. I am especially appreciative of the positive feedback I have received from the Chicago based film festivals so far. If anyone is interested, please feel free to reach out or visit teddygolden.com.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?
My cinematic goal in life is to keep progressing and learning as a filmmaker so that one day, I can truly understand the nature of cinema and create something reflective of that growth.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
Frankly, I didn’t make this film to have an impact on the world. This film is more of a fun hang, striving to be entertaining above all else. The audience is anyone who enjoys dive bars, live music, and of course all those who know and love The Bottle.