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Follow 7 Die-Hard North Coast Fans In New Music Documentary 'FESTIVAL'

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 25, 2015 2:40PM

What drives people to travel across the country for a music festival? An organizer of the North Coast Music Festival and his filmmaker friends tried to find out.

"The objective was to look at people who descend upon these festivals every weekend of the year across the country. I called it FESTIVAL because it could be any group of seven people at any festival," said Michael Raspatello, the creator of the documentary whose IndieGoGo campaign is coming down to the wire, funding-wise.

Still from Festival. Photo by Sebastian Lama
We spoke to Raspatello about the project. He said that among the genre of rock films, from Woodstock and Gimme Shelter to countless others, FESTIVAL hopes to stand apart thanks to close-up storytelling. Following seven young people through Chicago's North Coast Festival for three days in 2013, viewers have the opportunity to see the individual side to the phenomenon of music festivals, and get close to the incredibly dedicated and impassioned fans who follow them around the country.

After attending festivals since he was 19 and becoming one of the organizers for North Coast in his early 30s, Raspatello says he's been both one of the thousands of festival attendees as well as person familiar with what goes on behind the scenes. As an organizer, he looked out over the crowds after being a part of them for so many years, and it was this new perspective that led him to investigate why these festivals hold such great importance to so many.

So how were these seven young people selected? An open call on North Coast's Facebook page garnered many interested parties, but Raspatello was looking for a particular kind of spark. He wanted people who both represented the typical festival goer, while also having a poignant, individual story.

"We were looking for people who were willing to peel away the onion of themselves," he explained. "I was looking for layered people. Every person has a story, every person has several layers of motivations that drive them to do what they do." For these seven people, that common motivator is their ardent love of the music contained within a festival space filled with other people emanating a similar energy and fervency.

For Raspatello, a main point of following these festival goers through North Coast for three days was to hone in on the individual side of these fans. "The idea was to break down the common archetype of these young people. I think people have a blanket generalization of what a raver kid is like, or a hipster kid or whatever." Raspatello continued, "But everyone has a dynamic."

FESTIVAL is a documentary that takes viewers into the music festival culture of now as well as its history. The historical context adds a dimension to how these events have changed and how they have remained the same. With less than a week to go in the IndieGoGo campaign, Raspatello and his team still need the funds to pay for the archival footage and the music licensing so integral to the film.

The "finishing funds will go toward music licensing, archival and newsreel footage, and newscasts so we can tell that contextual story and this footage is very expensive," he said.

The campaign runs through Aug. 27, so now's your chance to help out.