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It's like the phenomena facing physicists examining the complex interplay of speed, matter, time and the role of chance in the origins of the universe: if everything goes as planned (missed deadlines, blown budgets, unforseen migraines and acts of God notwithstanding), two films about the same seemingly esoteric subject, the OC music scene, by two local filmmakers working completely independently will hit movie screens at almost the same moment in September-Bill Henderson's Peeling the Orange and Patrick Brink's OC's 5400 Day Revolution.
Both films have been in the works for several years. Both take as their starting point 1979-the year local punk really broke-and march you through two decades of OC's aural history, right through the more recent ska-pop, retro-punk and alterna-rock platinum explosions of such big-ticket bands as No Doubt, the Offspring and Sugar Ray. The films will each spin off companion CDs and at least one tie-in concert, with live sets from some of the featured bands.
Coincidence? Neither Henderson nor Brink knew about each other's film until they were contacted by the Weekly. But as similar as both of their movies might sound, there are also significant differences.
Brink says Revolution will be a documentary in the tradition of The Decline of Western Civilization, the seminal 1981 punkumentary directed by Penelope Spheeris. There's performance footage from US Bombs, Final Conflict, the Sun Demons, Tex Twil, 4, and his own band, Volume. The Revolution CD will be stuffed with more, he promises, as it's a sprawling, two-disc, 47-band set with tracks from every significant local rock genre of the past 20 years, ranging from the Crowd's "Modern Machine" and Agent Orange's "America" to bands like National People's Gang, Big Drill Car, the Cadillac Tramps, Home Grown, the Goods, Smile, Gameface, Relish, Supernovice, 4-Gazm, Doom Kounty Electric Chair and the Neil Armstrong Band, to name just a few.
"We touch base on the past," says the 31-year-old Brink, "but we've set it up mostly around bands who are around right now, the ones who are just below the surface, still kind of underground, still playing local clubs. We're really trying to get into why all of these bands do what they do and why they keep at it. For so long, OC was overlooked, and there's a lot of talent and a good story to be told here."
Meanwhile, there's Henderson's Peeling the Orange, which the Seal Beach filmmaker and music-video director says will include "documentary elements" in an acted-out feature. Members of such high-profile OC bands as the Adolescents will portray themselves.
Henderson, 40, says he's approaching his film from more of an I-lived-it, I-was-there angle. He got his start videotaping the action at old OC punk-rock shows during the music's first surge, and he will include in his film archival footage from Vandals, TSOL and Agent Orange gigs. Peeling the Orange will open with a scene at the Cuckoo's Nest and will vividly depict some of the brawling that used to go down between the punkers who hung out at the famed (now long-gone) Costa Mesa club and the rednecks who frequented Zubie's, the country-and-western bar next door. The film will also touch on the decline of that first punk wave, the rise (and collapse) of the hair-spray-metal era, and the current proliferation of multiplatinum, major-label OC bands. Like Brink, Henderson promises a soundtrack CD and a photo book to complement his film, and he hopes to stage a concert at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre around the time of the film's release, with big-name OC bands on the bill.
"I feel that this is a great story to tell, especially now," says Henderson. "Look at Billboard, and you'll find a bunch of OC bands on there-Korn, Sugar Ray, No Doubt, Lit."
Based on brief descriptions of the films, neither Brink nor Henderson sees the two projects as competitive.
"I give him credit and wish him nothing but success," Henderson says of Brink. "I'm sure our film will be different. But since this is his first major project of this kind, it might be hard and limiting for him to get it distributed out there."
Brink says he tentatively plans on screening Revolution in short-run indie theaters before taking it on the road, perhaps to festivals, and eventually putting it out on video.
"They're coming at it from a different point of view, it sounds like," says Brink. "His sounds like it'll be more high-gloss, dealing with a lot of things that people know about already. What they're doing sounds totally different from what we're doing, but I think our films will wind up complementing each other."
The Crowd, Doom Kounty Electric Chair, the Neil Armstrong Band and Cal Channel play a release party for the OC's 5400 Day Revolution CD at Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (714) 642-6634. Sat., 8 p.m. $5. 21+; Tub, Smile and Gameface play another release party at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. Thurs., May 6, 7:30 p.m. $5. All ages.