Friday, September 4, 2009

The Starck Club Documentary Saga... or how Warriors of the Discotheque came to be...

When I was just wee, young lad just out of High School my parents had separated and moved to Dallas, TX. I worked at a Chicago style pizzeria in North Dallas and not long after heard about a new club on the Northwest edge of downtown called The Starck Club. I decided one night on a Thursday after work to take a trek down there and see what it was all about. The address was 703 McKinney and I found the street and kept an eye out for 703, 400 block, 500 block 600 block but no 703. All I saw was a dirt road going over a RR tracks heading underneath the freeway. I kept going round and round and it was finally nearing 2am and figured what the heck, I might as well. (I discovered later there was a much easier way to take the Commerce exit off of I35 Steamons freeway.)

I drove on the dirt road, over the tracks, under the Woodall Rogers freeway and boom! Here it was! The Brewery building and the white curtains, the bank vault door, and transformed to a whole new world! This is a bit a metaphor for how the documentary on this legendary club came to be as well. I found myself going to this club every weekend. I was originally from NY and had been to Europe so it’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck, but this place was like nothing I’d ever seen before or since for that matter.

Flash forward to years later and I'm a filmmaker and working screenwriter. I'd read about a guy from Dallas who'd directed a film called TV Junkie that won some accolades at 2006 Sundance film festival. In an interview w/ the filmmaker, Michael Cain, mentioned he was working on a project about the legendary Starck Club. Having had a little bit of heat myself as I was hired to write a script for Joe Carnahan (Narc & Smokin' Aces) I figured I'd reach out to Mr. Cain and see if I could some how become involved. After several calls to an associate of his in LA where I was residing, nothing much transpired... It was a lot like that dirt path w/ the RR tracks seemingly leading nowhere.

Then a couple years later, I was surfing the net doing a little search on google for the old Starck Club and boom! Lo and behold there was a litany of sites devoted to the old club, one was Sherry Martin's Myspace page Starck Club revisited, as well as a page on a disco site. It was then that I realized rather than the usual drudgery of writing a script, raising money, then making a full length feature film maybe the way to go would be a documentary! It was September of 2008 when I officially embarked on the making of Warriors of the Discotheque: The Starck Club Documentary. The first person who officially came on board was Director of Photography/ Producer extraordinaire Taylor Wigton. We'd discussed at length the look, feel, style and significance of the Starck doc. When we were discussing all this the economy was starting to seriously unravel and it was our supposition that in many ways it was the attitude of the go go 80's and what happened in Dallas w/ the S&L crisis and so forth that set the seeds for what we were experiencing now. We wanted to draw all sorts of parallels from the widespread use of anti- depressants, to music, to Architecture. There are hints at these things, but time and money have limited us from the full treatment (you can help that by going here:) or here I was waiting on a chunk of money from a script I wrote years prior, see here to start financing the full feature film. After coming out of a special WGA screening of Burn After Reading Taylor suggested, "Why don't we just start shooting people here!" Brilliant, I thought, let's just get the ball rolling. He was able to secure great equipment like the Panasonic HVX, lighting gear, and sound for minimal costs.
All the while I was reaching out to people involved w/ the club and hopefully get some low hanging fruit in the form of some Starckers here in LA. I hit the jackpot w/ connecting w/ David McDonald, a former bar back and waiter, he also has come on board as a producer. Then came Luis Barajas, founder of Detour magazine and current owner of Flaunt magazine, and he gave us some pure magic. Add to that Taylor found Mina Chow a Prof. of Design & Architecture at USC and is an expert on Philippe Starck's work, through another shoot he was working on. We were able to keep adding folks like Michael Moore who was Starck Club's house photographer and several other interviewees as well as still photos, stock footage, old post cards and flyer's etc. And before you know it we had a trailer up within 3 months of starting on the film, and that when some problems started.

It was always my intention to reach out to Blake Woodall, the founder and owner of the Starck Club. I started by scouring his company's site Vent a Hood which is a family owned and operated business by the Woodall family, of course there was no email address to work with. I then realized Mr. Woodall went to SMU and thought I hit the jackpot when I discovered there was a Blake Woodall on the alumni board, but who knew, there's more than one Blake Woodall. I guess it was his cousin. Indeed he forwarded my email to THE Mr. Woodall, who according to an article in the Dallas Morning News deemed it too amateurish to respond to. But, what I discovered in my research was that Blake Woodall had been approached many times about films about the Starck Club, usually w/ hat in hand looking for money. I wanted to come to him w/ something on the table besides talk!

Then, the seemingly perfect situation presented itself. As I was searching festivals to submit my short film to I realized the timing was excellent to screen at the legendary USA Film Festival in Dallas. Going on it's 40th year, it's not only the longest running, most established festival in Texas, but one of the best in the US. It is one of only 60 or so Academy accredited Film festivals in the world, (this is how AMPAS determines the Oscar category for short films, designating the winners for certain festivals.) I sent the film and heard immediately from the fest director herself Ann Alexander as she loved the film and absolutely wanted to screen it. She also went as far as to offer to contact Mr. Woodall and honor him at the festival in conjunction with our film, but also try and secure an interview with him so we could cut it into the documentary! Now what I didn't know but what we both suspected was that Mr. Woodall was already in cahoots w/ Mr. Cain. Right after my trailer came out in January '09 Mr. Cain put up a page on imdb touting his new film Starck the documentary. But, still Ann Alexander and the USA FF does carry some weight, so I figured we might at least have a chance... And then what? Nothing! Rien! Uggatz!
This whole situation leaves me w/ more questions than answers: such as why did Mr. Cain wait until my trailer came out to announce his documentary? How can Mr. Cain make a film without a Director of Photography, an editor, grips, assistant directors, etc. etc. To date none of these key positions have been filled according to imdb. Why did Mr. Woodall wait until after the 25th anniversary of his club opening came and went to get involved in some kind of film commemorating the club. If he was so keen on the keeping the image of his club alive why wasn't he more proactive in getting something off the ground instead of waiting until some guy 1200 miles away did the exact same thing! Why after 4 plus months have we not heard or seen anything on The Starck Club Project? No footage for a teaser, at least something? You see aside from being a filmmaker I'm also a huge fan of the club, and given all the photos, footage, and archival material that was availed to Mr. Cain I'm betting he can come up with a really, really good film. Certainly, one that maybe much better than mine, and I would be the first one to stand up and applaud them. What irks me is I suspect there may be a very good chance that there's nothing there other than some good press releases.

What I do know is Warriors... is on a pace to get to 10 festival screenings by the end of the year, and possibly finish the feature length doc by this time next year! We started at the USA FF, then were a part of Palm Spring International short fest, Holly Shorts at Sunset Laemmle 5 in West Hollywood, coming to the legendary Anthology Film Archives in NYC November 25, to Byron Bay as part of Queer Fruits FF in Australia, December 30, and waiting on St. Louis International FF, Margeret Mead doc fest in NYC, Miami Shorts Fest, Reel Affirmations in DC, and lastly the big daddy of 'em all in January! Also, instead of waiting until the fest run is done to release this on DVD I've decided after an astounding test on ebay, in which quite a few dvd's were sold we will be available on Amazon now and can be ordered here!
more links...

It's also playing at New Filmmakers in NYC November 25th more info. here...
Fall Schedule


  1. Thanks so much for the tip! What an interesting road to getting this made, I hope everything works out for you...

    1. Thanks for taking a look: the feature film is on Am Prime and Fandor. You can find out more here: