Andrew Behar directed a film that was both timely and sad. The film was titled Tied-Died: Rock 'n' Roll's Most Dedicated Fans (ISA Releasing Ltd.). Tied-Died was filmed throughout The Dead's '94 Summer Tour and released in September '95, just one month after the death of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. Andrew Behar's film is a real eye-opener for Deadheads as well as those people who are just curious about the appeal of The Grateful Dead.
Andrew Behar talked with us about Tie-Died.
Q - Mr. Behar, I saw Tied-Died the first showing on the first day it opened here in Syracuse. Besides myself, there was one other person in attendance at the theater. I hope it did better in other cities. Did it?
A - It was held over three weeks in D.C. and then they booked it again. It was held over for two weeks in Toronto. Also, a little town in Maine, it played for weeks. Some big cities it just crashed and burned in. I'm not sure why. I think it's all word of mouth with a small picture like this. The word is really good but the theaters have to let it play. We've gotten a lot of bookings from Deadheads who write to me on the web and then find a local theater and ask them to book a print. It's very cool in the way that after five months, it's still getting play dates because grassroots people want to see it. I got about 600 hits a day on the web-site and lots of mail from heads who love it and want to thank me for preserving a bit of the magic. It makes me feel really cool that I did that for people and they appreciate it.
Q - When you were filming Tied-Died, did you ever get the feeling that the Dead's concert days were drawing to a close?
A - No way. I thought it would go on forever and ever.
Q - What was happening in that last year that seemed to bring out the wrong element? The Dead were about peace and love, weren't they?
A - Every summer had some tragedies. 1995 was a bummer. It was a summer of sorrow and all that, but maybe they just got too bad and the scene was too cool and so everybody wanted to be on tour and the facilities couldn't hold that many people. This was the complaint of the tour heads who lived on the road for 25 years. Pre-1986 when they played in 20,000 seats venue, people could camp. It was much more of a small family. Now, it was out of control.
Q - Why couidn't you film the band in concert or at the very least, interview members of the group? That certainly would have lent a better overall picture of the Deadheads, wouldn't it?
A - Sure. But the band is very strict about copyrights and about giving interviews. We were really more interested in the Tribe and the family and the community. The band was very insulated behind the management and lawyers and business apparatus. So, they are very hard to reach on a personal basis.
Q - You shot over 20 hours of footage. What did you leave out? Will you ever release it?
A - We left out about 16 hours of it. What you see is a tapestry, a weaving of images and words and impressions. Every story that you record is not necessarily part of the final picture. That is the art of film making, deciding on a structure and creating it, picking the pieces and shaping it.
Q - There was a lot of drug use going on amongst concert goers. You say undercover agents had infiltrated the audience. Did you observe drug use within the entourage of the The Dead themselves?
A - I never saw The Dead themselves. I didn't make it to any concerts. I was too busy filming in the parking lots and I gave away all my tickets to heads who needed miracles.
Q - What is the appeal of The Dead? It isn't just the music, is it?
A - It's the family, the community. It's the last haven for the gentle and the kind peeple of the world to gather.
Q - If you were not a fan of The Dead going into the film, were you when you completed Tied-Died?
A - I'm a huge fan of the Deadheads. These are brave and noble people who have made a choice not to participate in a socio-economic system that sucks us all dry. The band created magic and a place for all this to happen. There were the catalyst. How could you not love them?
Q - As the director of a documentary like this, what was your job? What did you have to do?
A - Deciding on what the film was about, what it would look like, the subject it would cover, where we would shoot. I hired the crew, planned the shoot. On location I decided who would be interviewed. I worked closely with my cinematographer to establish a look. I basically run the crew, give instructions to the soundman. I actually loaded all the footage into my computer, cut it, created the track, re-cut it about 300 times and entered it in Festivals. I invested my entire salary plus some of my own cash into the film. So overall, I got no pay for six months of intense work. I hope it does well so I can get reimbursed.
Q - Was it hard to get financing for the film?
A - It was impossible.
Q - When does the film go onto video?
A - June (1996). You have to request your local video store to order a copy from BMG Video.
Q - You say, "It's not in any real sense a cult because they're not following a charismatic leader." You're saying then that Jerry Garcia was not charismatic? If that's true, why couldn't The Dead have gone on without him?
A - I never said that Jerry wasn't charismatic. In fact, I think he is one of the most charismatic people ever born. But, he didn't want to be a leader. To me, a cult has a leader who wants to control people. Jerry wanted to free people and play music.