In 2010, Marcus Haney was your typical college kid with a lust to get closer to the core of any modern music-lover's dream — the music festival. But unlike most people wanting to go to Coachella, Bonnaroo and the rest, Haney didn't save for weeks to buy his event pass, and then ride out to Indio with his buddies for a weekend of partying to Jay-Z and Muse in the audience. Instead, Haney rode out to Indio, jumped a fence when no one was looking, hid out in a Porta-Potty for 8 hours and used a homemade photo pass to enjoy Coachella not from the audience with everyone else, but rather from behind the lens as a press photographer.
And while there might be quite a few people who successfully sneak into Coachella and other big music festivals for a day or so, Haney made a career out of it. He eventually parlayed his fake photo pass and press credentials to sneak into multiple festivals over a couple of years. At one such event, he met Mumford and Sons, who took such a liking to Haney and his work they invited him to go on tour with them as their press photographer. Haney dropped out of USC film school one term before graduating so he could join one of the world's biggest rock bands on their tour.
Haney has turned his adventures into a documentary film, No Cameras Allowed. The footage he shot at festivals and on the road with Mumford and Sons has been edited into a full-length film premiering July 23 at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
We sat down with Haney, now 26 and living in Venice Beach when he's not on the road, to talk about what it's like to be the badass who realized his dream one amazing concert at a time.
OC Weekly (Tina Dhamija): Did you go into this business of sneaking into concerts as press with any initial intent to become a music photographer?
Marcus Haney: I never aspired to be a music photographer, I've always aspired to be filmmaker. I mostly just wanted to hear music and used the camera as a prop to be there, as a decoy. Yes, now after I got to invited to go on a train across country, tour with the band and get to shoot whatever I wanted, I thought, "Okay, this is a pretty cool career."
No Cameras Allowed is kind of like an Almost Famous for this generation, in that you sneak into the show and eventually make your way into the world of touring and chronicling what you encounter along the way. Have you ever seen that movie or met Cameron Crowe?
Actually, I have not seen Almost Famous yet, but I have met Cameron Crowe. We've hung out before and traded multiple stories about the road.
Let's talk about touring with Mumford and Sons. What was that part of the journey like for you, to become such an intimate part of the road with such a popular band?
It was great, just pretty much surreal. I learned a lot, I gained an amazing family on the road, and I got to see a lot of the world. It was an incredible experience and still is.
What are you currently working on?
I currently just dropped a music video for the band Bear's Den out of London. They're good friends of mine and have an incredible album coming out.
What's next for you, personally and professionally? Are you planning to go back to USC to finish your film degree, or do you have something else in mind?
Finishing my degree is definitely not my first priority. Making more movies, traveling with bigger and crazier bands. . . . I want to do more photography and film. My feature film is almost finished.
What would be the ultimate show for you to get into, one that you have not done yet?
I don't think there is one. I think I've gotten into everything I've wanted to. As far as the future, it's not just music. I want to get back to doing narrative films, scripted films. I have some art-music documentary ideas that I'm exploring in the next year or so.
How has your family been handling your lifestyle?
It has taken a while, but my family is very supportive now.
What do you consider a luxury in your life?
Time is a good one, and hanging out at home is another one. Actually, spending time hanging out at home is a luxury for me.
For more information about No Cameras Allowed or to attend Wednesday's premiere at the Wiltern Theater, please visit the event's Facebook page.