Filmmaker Gabriel DeLoach follows Baltimore underground punk band Double Dagger and intimately explores the experience of their final tour in his latest documentary, If We Shout Loud Enough.
Teresa: Double Dagger is an intense three-man band with the bassist taking on multi- instrumental sounds. Were you familiar with their work prior to this project?
Gabriel: I went to college with Bruce (bass) and Nolen (vocals) and knew them through some minor collaborations. I was vaguely familiar with their MICA band, League of Death, from going to house parties. I discovered Double Dagger around the time they released their Baltimore anthem “Luxury Condos for the Poor” (2006)–so I missed their graphic design-core era. In fact, it wasn’t until we were halfway through the IWSLE edit that I heard most of Double Dagger’s early recordings. I can’t tell you what the band thinks of those dusty tunes now but we liked them so much we dedicated a whole segment in the film to that period.
A memorable quote from the film: “Most bands now don’t have a personality, they have a haircut. They don’t have a point of view, they have a publicist.” Describe your impression of Double Dagger and their fan base.
Double Dagger is a profoundly creative and infectious band possessing honorable ethics, and they attract like-minded fans who are usually motivated to improve our world. Let me put it like this: when I was younger I assisted a photographer who was contracted to photograph the Graham Colton Band just hanging out on a construction site. Early on in the day their manager or whoever was hanging out on the sidelines while the photographer was hustling to get the group–donned in tight jeans and fresh flannel or western shirts–to pose naturally in front of a dump truck. The manger fellow blurts out “Just imagine the back of that truck is filled with money, boys.” and one bandmate unwittingly replies, “That’s what I’m talking about!” Then I threw up in my mouth. And that’s why Double Dagger fans don’t listen to bands like the Graham Colton Band, because they’d like to keep their meals down
Your earlier work deals with animals and nature. What was it like creating a film with an entirely different subject matter and energy?
Other than having to handle the technical challenges unique to documenting Double Dagger’s live performances (which were just as stressful as filming wildlife), the most refreshing aspect to making this story was its playful concept and fast pace. A lot of my previous assignments leading up to making IWSLE dealt with human/animal conflict, so IWSLE was a very welcome change. Another large obstacle was figuring out how to make a film about an amazing yet unknown punk band from Baltimore that appeals beyond their fan base. I think we succeeded but I don’t think I’d make another music documentary unless Kool Keith personally contacted me at (201) 888-7580.
The film The Harvest, examines the idea of hunting animals from the perspective of terminally ill children who wanted to have the experience. What an interesting concept. How was it born?
I was a senior in college at home visiting my parents for a weekend. I was shuffling through some of my dad’s hunting magazines and found an ad for Hunt of a Lifetime stuffed in the bottom corner of a back page. You don’t see that every day, I said to myself, and I didn’t think about it anymore than that, I just picked up the phone and called the number in the ad. It was such a spontaneous thing for me to do–I didn’t have a camera, I had no idea what making a documentary even meant or what was involved, but I was pretty inspired to tell that story for some reason. Next thing I knew I was driving up to northern PA to meet the founder, Tina Pattison, at a truck stop. We definitely clicked and she wanted me to make the film, but it took many years before it got off the ground.
You are a graduate of MICA. What other art forms have you worked with (and favored), and why did you focus on filmmaking?
I was accepted into MICA as a painter and drawer but by the time I started classes I had already gotten deep into photography and was romantically drawn to that medium. My dad was a huge influence on me as far as photography and film are concerned. We always had cameras around the house, and I made a lot of ridiculous videos with my childhood friends. During my sophomore year I interned at National Geographic and that’s when I started really digging into the documentary genre. Also, MICA had an extensive film library and I took advantage of it–I spent a LOT of time watching movies–and the prospect of working in film became very inviting then. But after college I floundered a lot, going from working on a dairy farm to grad school for philosophy to dropping out and learning carpentry and other trades–still always making pictures. It took 6 or 7 years to realize I wanted to work full time in the documentary field, and so I found myself assisting the National Geographic photographer, Steve Winter. Steve took me under his wing and encouraged my interest in filmmaking. He supported The Harvest when I finally started working on it and got me some of my first gigs. Then things just sort of snowballed, so I guess it was a whole lot of little moments that led to where I am now. For a long while I really thought I’d be banging nails and reading Wendell Berry essays during coffee breaks the rest of my life. I guess that may still happen someday.
How has your work been received at film festivals? Where can people learn more about your films and screenings?
The festival responses have been very positive. I hear from programmers that audiences especially enjoy the q&a’s and panel discussions I’ve had the opportunity to participate in. The Harvest will be coming out on Hulu and other online platforms in the next few weeks, and I think that is a very exciting audience to reach. If We Shout Loud Enough is still seeking festival slots. We have a tumblr site, and people can follow our current and future work from there. Or go directly to film’s website, and/or here.