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BRAD CORRIGAN / BRADDIGAN - Dispatch (drums) / "Day Of Light" producer
CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL - Camera 12 Theatres - San Jose, CA - Sat. March 7, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009 was a day that proved beyond a doubt that synchronicity works. Everything worked out perfectly that day. It started as we entered The Rep theater at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, CA. Someone happened to ask me if I had a guitar. Being a player myself, I indeed did own one, but was not about to lose a valued parking spot during the big event, just to go back home. I found out that the guitar was to be used for an acoustic performance by a Brad Corrigan, drummer of the band Dispatch, also a filmmaker. I was told of Dispatch, and remembered the story of the indie band selling out three days at Madison Square Gardens, as told to me by my friend Jacques, who held the band in high esteem as musical idols. I got Jacques on the phone to inform him of Brad’s requirement. The next couple of moments were a lot of hooting and hollering, as Jacques immedaitely headed back from 50 miles away, and in traffic. He did help in securing the guitar, and the performance happened as planned - both to share Brad’s music, and to help promote the upcoming screening of Brad’s film. We were also able to get the performance filmed for iNSIDE CINEQUEST, as Brad’s voice and guitar tone were pure, with some great groove and melody.

Following the film screening, we were able to get Brad to do an interview with us. We were able to find out more about the multi-talented musician, activist, and now filmmaker. Brad was accessible and gracious in chatting with us about his current film, “Day Of Light,” which focused on the lives of Nicaragua’s trash dump children and families, as well as his previous and current musical endeavors, spiritual beliefs, and life lessons in general. As well, at the bottom is a segment from the Q&A session from after the film.

K2K: We’re here with...
BC:
Brad Corrigan. Of “Love, Light, and Melody,” Dispatch, Braddigan, my mom and dad, the relief projects...

K2K: “... and I’d like the thank the Academy...”
BC:
Yeah, that’s right.

K2K: Have you ever made any other films, or done film soundtracks?
BC:
I’ve worked on a couple of surfing films, creating music for them. But I didn’t work hand-in-hand with them. So this is our first.

K2K: That was strictly musical though, right?
BC:
It was contributing music, and then checking the film later on to see if they had used it.

K2K: How did you decide to actually do a film like this?
BC:
Oh gosh. It was two weeks before the event last year, late February. It was like thinking with everyone coming in - we had Brazilians coming in, we had painters, photographers, musicians, surfers - it became really visual in my imagination. It was imagining the kites, and imagining painting that ugly wall at the school. I thought, “Wait a minute. Let’s get the rest of our crew together.” It was just a divine set of circumstances and financial provisions, and done, in ten days. Again, no shot list, no scripts, nothing, just, “Guys, we’re all supposed to be here. Let’s just watch God fill up our cameras.”

K2K: Now, at a film festival, asking what a budget is, is a complete taboo, but...
BC:
It was a $30,000. budget, and we went to $43,000. I think it looks like a half million dollar budget. It’s so gorgeous.

K2K: You’re the only person here who has brought up your budget.
BC:
Yeah. I love that. Everything about it was impossible. Everything about it was divine. Just unbelievable. When I even watch it, it’s... (sighs)

K2K: For $30,000. that was really well done.
BC:
All of our filmers paid their own way. Everyone volunteered. Everyone put their hearts’ energy into it. They all donated their HD [camera] rigs. Everything about the film is just a gift.

K2K: What was the inspiration?
BC:
I had been there for 2 1/2 years. I just wanted to open a door and have more people come in. There were so many yellow trash trucks that would come in with kids, those precious kids whom we love, on the back, and with trash falling out. And there’s child prostitution and drug trafficking. That’s what I’m used to seeing. Then there’s this one day where I had this picture, just a little teardrop from Heaven, just this dream of school buses coming in, and soccer balls and guitars and kids with frisbees and kits pouring out. I was like, “That’s crazy. Day Of Light. Oh my gosh, if we drove a wedge of light into a place that’s known for it’s darkness, would it matter? Yeah, it would matter. So let’s do that.” So the whole thing was, let’s invade this place with us, rather than invading it with money, let’s invade it with our physical presence.

K2K: The film, although it’s a bleak situation, doesn’t look as dark and depressing as war zones in Africa or other places. Is it a state of lifestyle?
BC:
Hmm. It’s in the eye of the beholder. I think there’s dignity in the midst of every struggle. We could have gone into the same trash dump and manipulated the darkness to make it look darker than anything on Earth. But there’s always dignity. There’s always the ability to uplift. Focusing on this, there’s one shot of a girl after she had found a couple of bits of lettuce that had falled off of a trash truck. She’s frowning at first. You could cut away [with camera], if you want people to feel bad. But instead, she started laughing. We just said, “Come on.” There’s beauty in the midst of every struggle. If you don’t show both sides equally, then it’s not truthful.

K2K: [In comparison to some of the other documentaries] At least they’re not in a war zone.
BC:
Well, there’s nothing blowing up around them, per se. But they’re stepping on medical waste, there’s jet fuel, there are sinkholes from fires, and the kids are barefoot. Half the year they’re breathing in smoke, and the other half living in a chemical soup.

K2K: The water they were bathing with [from the tap faucet in the ground], wasn’t that toxic?
BC:
Thankfully they are tapped into the city’s water supply. But half the people there would probably just as soon swim in the lake. The lake has been polluted for 80 years, with sewage on top of the trash coming in.

K2K: The guy [in the film] who is bathing in the lake, that’s the lake?
BC:
Yeah.

K2K: With a few of the films in this festival, the opening shots were not done right, with off-colors. Yours has really brilliant colors. How did you manage that? Did you saturate?
BC:
I think honestly that that day was just a gorgeous day, from sunrise to sunset. It was just beautiful.

K2K: With the colors, there was a bright red thing, and a blue thing, and the sunrise is a nice orange.
BC:
I would just have to give that to our cinemaphotographers in the way that they captured the day, and then color corrected, or whatever they did. In every process you’re going to find where there’s not continuity. So we did some audio sweetening, some color correcting, but the fine line is to remain completely true to what you shot, as opposed to manipulating or polishing something.

K2K: Who decided the camera angles? Some shots almost look like a Sci-Fi, post-Apocalyptic scene when you’re showing the smoke coming up from the ground [at close range]. How close to the ground were you shooting?
BC:
That shot was probably 16 inches away from the smoke. It’s right in your face. Yeah, just some beautiful stuff.

K2K: Are there more orphans living therre, or are the parents there?
BC:
There are a lot of social orphans there. Kids who don’t have parents who are interested, or desiring of their upkeep. But there are a lot of whole families there as well.

K2K: Do the kids go to school there?
BC:
They can. We juxtaposed all the kids rushing into school with that little boy who’s running, and he’s running to work. So, I’d say 2/3 of the kids living in the dump have the opportunity to go to school, and do, and they other third, their parents look at them to say, “We need you to be with us in the fields.”

K2K: Do they all work there, or just live there?
BC:
They all live and work there. About 120 to 150 families live and work inside [the dump], so that’s about 1,000 people. Then another 1,500 people who come in on a daily commute to work.

K2K: Why no dialogue during the film?
BC:
We started with kind of a talking head narrative. We had things that just seemed too obvious. In one moment, I’m like, “Hi. I’m here with this little girl. Her name is [such and such], and she’s been collecting plastic.” You can see it. “I’m about to hand her a kite.” You can see it. I thought, “Get off camera.” Everytime it was one of us talking, it was almost like this, “Well, there’s the white presence over and over again.” It wasn’t our intention, but it was about getting as much of us out of the film as possible. For the viewer, I want the viewer to have to engage. “What is this thing?” In our culture, we spoon-feed people everything, and don’t expect much of them. So as soon as the film is done, they can say, “Cool. What’s the next one?” A film in which you’ve had to let the person’s heart engage it, and they have to figure out the mysteries of where they are and why... by the end of the film, a lot of people have come up to us to say, “I don’t know what else to say other than Thanks.” That’s all we wanted to hear. We allow people to experience what they see in the film, as opposed to us telling them how to feel.

K2K: It’s nice because it doesn’t look like a documentary. It looks like an art film. Beautifully shot. Even in the ugliness of what it is, it’s beautifully done.

[Then we changed gears to talk about Brad’s past with music.]

K2K: What was your first band? When did it form?
BC:
My first band was Dispatch. 1996, and broke up in 2002.

K2K: How old are you now? And when did you start playing?
BC:
I’m 34. I started playing guitar when I was 15. I started playing drums when I was 21. I started singing when I was a little kid.

K2K: When you were growing up, what did you want to do?
BC:
I thought I was going to be a Lacrosse coach or a Marine Biologist. (laughs) And I wanted to be a pro surfer. I suck at it, but I love it.

K2K: Have you ever met Dick Dale? {The father of surf music.]
BC:
No.

K2K: Would you ever want to jam with him?
BC:
Sure. I’d rather surf with him.


K2K: How many albums do you have out as Dispatch?
BC:
Four studio records. Two live DVD / records. And one documentary. It was all [independent]. Then when our band broke up, we got distribution through Universal.

K2K: How long was Dispatch around?
BC:
Seven years.

K2K: What were the largest venues you played, or what is the largest show you’ve ever played?
BC:
When we were an active touring band, when we broke up, we were playing rooms that were between 1,500 to 4,000, I guess. Then we went on hiatus. When we came back in 2004, we played a show for 110,000 people outdoors in Boston. Then we took a couple of years off and played Madison Square Gardens [in 2006] for three nights.

K2K: That was a legendary show.
BC:
Yeah. Whew, yeah.

K2K: You sold out that show with no major marketing. All word of mouth? And you sold out three nights?
BC:
All word of mouth. We had the fastest sell-out in [Madison Square Garden’s] history, behind the... who do you think was first?

K2K: Stones? Zeppelin? The Who?
BC:
It hurts a little bit, I’ll tell ya.

K2K: Britney Spears?
BC:
Spice Girls. (laughs) Spice Girls, then Dispatch. Twelve minutes [to sell out].

K2K: What is your advice to any band out there who even hopes to do anything like that?
BC:
Oh man, just play. Just play. That wasn’t our hope. Our hope was just to play and to see where we would end up. If you are working with an end goal, and an expectation of “this,” then you’re going to live a bummed life, because you’ll never hit your expectation. If you just play and naturally go where your heart is leading you, then everything else falls into place.

K2K: Aside from Dispatch, who have you played with, or who would be your dream to play with?
BC:
I would love to jam with Pearl Jam, or Ben Harper. Those are two of my all-time favorites. Bob Marley. That guy is about as simple and pure a songwriter who ever lived.

K2K: What are your personal influences?
BC:
Dave Matthews as far as guitar, and Carter Beauford, the drummer. He’s my favorite drummer in the world. I should mention the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers. And I love krunk. Anything with a real heavy energy vibe, I love. On the singing side, Ben Harper, Paul Simon, bands that bring a world influence.

K2K: Do you prefer playing drums or guitar?
BC:
Next question. I don’t know. If I had to choose, I think I’d choose guitar, because at least you could turn your guitar into a percussive instrument. I would miss the musicality. But drums are so athletic and fun. Especially singing back there.

K2K: [Jacques’ question] With Dispatch doing the Zimbabwe show, I was so impressed with how the presentation was with the background video during the show, the story of Elias, and everything around that. How does the experience with this movie compare to your experience in Zimbabwe, and your trying to raise awareness over there with that issue?
BC:
I think it’s a pretty similar experience. As a musician, you look at yourself as what are you? Only an entertainer? Or are you a storyteller, and using your platform to draw people through you into things that matter the most to you? I’ve gone through both. I’ve been incredibly selfish and about making money and sellling CDs and hoping for Rolling Stone [Magazine]. I’ve been there, and it was brutal and exhausting. The closer you’re getting to all that, you’re wondering, “Why do I feel so hollow and empty in the midst of that?” versus as soon as you open yourself up and not be the focus. When someone like Elias comes into your life, when you go to Zimbabwe and sit with a man who you swear is the wisest, simplest, most loving person on Earth, and he’s a gardner in Zimbabwe. Having him up on the screen, telling 20,000 kids per night that we’ve got to learn how to love each other, we’ve got to learn how to stop fighting, that’s just God’s... His laughter and His tears. I felt the Lord laughing and crying at the same moment, just saying, “I made you guys to be family down there.” And if it takes a Zimbabwean gardner, or it takes a trash dump in Nicaragua and a little girl name Eliana, to get a hold of your heart, and get you away from addiction to money...

“We addicted to money.” Well, then that’s all you’re going to have. I’d rather be addicted to relationships. I’d rather be addicted to people. And if that’s where your wealth is, in relationships, then you’ll live with people. I just want to be used as a storyteller. I want to take a stand for people whose voices aren’t readily heard, and amplifying their voices, and allowing people to see a story to then say, “Well, I can either turn my back and walk away from it, or I can change the way I look at my own life, or maybe I’ll even be drawn into that, or maybe it’ll inspire me to find my own.” It’s just a powerful thing to use your platform well.

K2K: What’s your next project after this?
BC:
I go down to Managua on Monday morning. We do that concert, and then it’s a week-long family reunion in the dump again.

K2K: Will you be releasing all that stuff?
BC:
What you just saw will be a DVD, with about eight or ten special features. So you’ll see the full piece, and then if you want to learn about any of those things, it’ll all be there. My hope is that in ten years I will look back and see a “Day Of Light: Nicaragua,” “Day Of Light: Brazil,” “Day Of Light: United States.” We’re going to try to go into Native American reservations and spend some time there. I’m a Lacrosse player. Lacrosse descended from Native Americans. We’re starting a non-profit called “Lacrosse The Nations,” to get professional high school and college kids playing Lacrosse in difficult communities, and overseas. So, to bring Lacrosse to the Native American kids sounds, to me, exactly the same thing. Alcoholism is rampant. There’s no hope. There are gangs. It’s a Third World right here on our own soil. So I’d like to have a “Day Of Light” become this beautiful [series] where you can see this and this, and learn about things, hilighting organizations that are there, because we can’t be there full time. We’ll hopefully become a story-teller and conduit for those who want to jump in. Praise God. Bring it. “Day Of Light: Earth.”

K2K: Since you mention certain things a lot, are you Christian?
BC:
Christian, yes. Jesus is not, to me, someone who you learn about, He’s someone you follow. He spent his entire life for people just like this, and with people just like this. And I never knew why. I always believe church was a Sunday thing. If you really want to know Him, you might as well join Him. You might want to go meet the people whom He loved on. It just changes everything. Jesus isn’t just this guy who’s got this list of rules. He’s this guy who’s got more love to be poured out. I thought, man, I’m going to go learn what wealth looks like, in and among the poorest and sickest, and be more thankful for the life I’ve got.

K2K: Unfortunately, with a lot of Christians, it’s mostly about appearances and less of the rest.
BC:
I agree. I very much agree. Well, they’re bookish too. I’m not into a bookish religion. It needs to be a relevant life-changing... well, that means life. Not like sitting there taking notes. There’s a lot of freedom.

K2K: Any message to get at to anyone out there?
BC:
Life is incredibly short. You’ve got to redefine what wealth is, and what poverty is. I know a lot of people who have the world by the tail, and they’re not happy. That’s poverty. And I know now people who have less than our definition of nothing, yet they’re content. And that is wealth. We need to have the courage to redefine what wealth and poverty look like.

K2K: Just like success is a personal definition.
BC:
What’s your definition of success. If being in Rolling Stone, with a major record deal, and lots of money is success, well then I didn’t get it. None of us got it. If it is getting to go to Zimbabwe and meeting a guy named Elias, and to Nicaragua, and Brazil, and Japan, and being here in San Jose having an intimate moment, as opposed to being on a jet, then maybe I’m about as successful as I could ever be. Man, I’d take the latter. Cool, man. Thanks!

And that concluded our interview with Brad, by the noisy popcorn-maker at the Camera 12 Cinemas. The day went fantastic, as we ended up making new friends, learning about new music, seeing how other lives around the world live, and sharing the cammaraderie of creative minds.

Just before that, we had seen the film, “Day Of Light,” which was followed by a Question & Answer session.

During a Q&A session, following the film screening, one of the producers commented that the reason for skipping narrative dialogue during the film was a conscious idea after seeing a CNN news report talking about some war or violence in detail, which was then calmly followed by “what Britney Spears had for breakfast.” At that point, the producers realized that this is a talking head society in which narratives have no part of the honest descreption that a visual can have.

Following that, Brad addressed a few questions and commented about the lack of dialogue during the film, as well as about one of the characters in the film being the focus, and jumping onstage, and finally how the lives are affected living in their conditions.

BC: Our mantra for the day was to be a participant. When you’re a filmmaker you obviously have a shot list, and you have so much that you want to accomplish. We didn’t have shot lists. We had to make sure that everyone who was there participated, and loved on, and received love, instead of just being behind the camera and forgetting that they were there. So after the fact, we had three editors working. We all got together to start mending parts. We looked at the morning section and there was Jose. “Oh my gosh. Look at that shot of him. That’s amazing.” And then, “Wait a minute. He’s in my section too. Oh my gosh. He’s the guy who jumps up onstage at the end.” So, completely unintentionally, divinely, that character arc came together. For me, as a musician, I was so pissed when he jumped up onstage. I was so exhausted and thinking, “Well, this song is dead.” All our goals were that we were going to control this day and accomplish our story, and now that is the pinnacle moment. So to dethrone ourselves, with our agenda, and our story, and to watch a divine tapestry get weaved, when the editors didn’t even know how they were working together, that was really remarkable.

CQ: What kind of difficulties, if any, did you have with the government with you getting in there?
BC:
Thankfully as far as entering the trash dump, we had been there for two or three years prior to filming this. So we felt as though we had really been invited in, and had earned the right to be in a lot of the most intimate shots, because that’s family. That’s not a cause. Those are people whom we love so dearly. The government turns a blind eye on the people who live there, so it’s a Catch-22. I wish the government would take a little responsibility and change that environment, but because they’ve taken a blind eye, that opens the door for a lot of us to come in and see a blank canvas.

CQ: Do you do this on a regular basis, or just for this one film effort?
BC:
The Day Of Light was the year before, March 6 [2007], and then this [film] was last March 6 [2008]. The next Day Of Light is next Friday [March 13, 2009]. So I was in Nicaragua, came here for the weekend, and then going back down to meet with our team. The same muralists, some new musicians and photographers. It’s a constant journey, so the rhythm is once per year for the Day Of Light event, but otherwise we have a handful of people who are there every day. We feel like our presence is more important than anything else that we can do for them.

CQ: It’s a very enlightening role to individuals who are obviously in very difficult places. How can we bring new definitive change to their lives, where we can improve their lives, instead of having them live in the same manner?
BC:
Definitive change, I believe, is over a lifetime, it’s over a commitment, and there are some definitive changes that are taking place. We have some special features menu[s, on the DVD] that hilights the school, hilights the medical clinic, hilights a number of organizations where there is tangible change. But I really do believe that that doesn’t happen overnight. We feel called there for a lifetime, and we will walk with those people, live with them, and share our lives.

Written by Philip Anderson, with contributions by Jacques Bicket-Belet

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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