“Does Humour belong in Documentary Film?”
This question has already been answered by the directors Sigrun Köhler and Wiltrud Baier in 2002 with their first feature documentary presented in cinemas about Germany’s smallest bank “Money-Go-Round”. Now, they are presenting their first tragicomic film about a musician:
Jimmy Carl Black, legendary drummer of Frank Zappa’s “Mothers of Invention” lives in a small Bavarian village.
“The Indian of the Group” can hardly speak German and is greeted with “Servus Mr. Black!” in the best Bavarian manner. Starting at Höpfling station, the 70-year-old of pensionable age tours through Europe as drummer and singer – signing the same old Zappa records over and over again since 40 years.
When he was 17, he watched the girls faint in a row at an Elvis concert – that’s when he knew he wanted to be a musician. He never got rich, though. “To tell you the truth, I don’t like to play the drums that much anymore. It’s too hard a work, man. But I need the money. ”Until his death in 2008, the two filmmakers spent the last two years shooting Jimmy Carl Black in the Bavarian village of Höpfling and at his concerts. Covering his cancer disease with blustering humour, Black sets out to go on a big tour in America that once more leads him to his hometown El Paso. A film about sex, drugs, Rock’n’Roll and no old age support.
Cast & Crew
Featuring Jimmy Carl Black „THE INDIAN OF THE GROUP“, Don Preston, Bunk Gardener and Roy Estrada from „THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION“, Eugene Chadbourne „DR. CHAD“, Arthur Brown „THE GOD OF HELLFIRE“, The Muffinmen, The Hurricanes, Moni Black, Blaskapelle Vogling Siegsdorf, and many more…
Script, directors, cinematography, sound & editing: Sigrun Köhler and Wiltrud Baier/ Böller und Brot, sound mixer: Ansgar Frerich, colour correction: Stefan Engelkamp, post production: Selina Titz, Martin Kuhnert, editor: Bettina Kasten. A Böller und Brot production in cooperation with Indi Film A coproduction with ZDF/3Sat supported by MFG Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg.
Country of production: Germany
Year of production: 2012
Length: 86 min.
Ratio: 1:1,85 I/s: 24
DCP Sound: Dolby 5.1 – Engl./Bavarian OV
Böller & Brot about the Film
One day, a friend, a huge Zappa fan, saw a guy in a small vegetarian snack-bar in Stuttgart who bore a great resemblance to the legendary drummer of the “Mothers of Invention”. So our friend went over and made a joke: «Are you the Indian of the group?» The guy replied:
Said that and left the bar. Our friend was totally swept off his feet: Frank Zappa’s drummer in Stuttgart, Germany! He got quite sad thinking of the many unsigned Mothers records and missing the opportunity to secure Mr. Black’s signature.
He told us about a rumour : «The Indian of the Group» living somewhere in the south of Germany. We wrote to Jimmy Carl Black in the world wide web. The reply came four days later:
Wiltrud, How are you? I am fine. I would love to talk to you guys about a
project. I live in southern Germany but I am now in Beyern. I live about 15
km from the Chiemsee near Traunstein. My telephone number is: 08662-XXX-XXX.
Let´s get together and talk about doing something, OK. Thanks for the
We took our small camera, our friend and his Zappa record collection and headed to Bavaria. In Siegsdorf, they were scooping 2 metres of snow from the roofs and it was sobering to meet the music legend in a humble flat of three rooms.
Bavaria with its Lederhosen, brass-music and traditions didn’t seem like a suitable place for a Zappa musician, ex-hippie and Indian from El Paso. Mr. Black never learned how to speak German, let alone Bavarian.
But he was very friendly signing our friend’s stack of records and asked whether he never gets tired of signing he replied: «Yes, I do. But it doesn’t do me any good. » According to him his German wife made him sign everything but the kitchen sink.
And there we were – right in the middle of a new film project that was to accompany us for the next 6 years…
Jimmy Carl Black wanted a film that would make him «rich», – «famous» is what he already was – but also, he didn’t like to be filmed that much. «Always shooting that camera! That’s your job! It’s a lousy job, but somebody’s got to do it!». As a musician, he was used to doing interviews and being filmed on stage or backstage at the most but everything else: what is it good for?
In the two years with ups and downs of financing promises, cancellations and again promises we shot whenever possible.
For Jimmy, all of that took way too long as if he had a premonition so he often would remind us: «Get me while you can! I may not be around for too long!»
His physical condition worsened as the last big US tour with Eugene Chadbourne was already quite exhausting for him. And yet, it was exactly what his life was all about: to travel around, to sign old Zappa records, to watch TV in hotel rooms and to stick to the rhythm like a clockwork.
We asked ourselves, what we’ll have to face once we’re 70. Will we still be able to or want to make films? Will we, like Jimmy, hit the drums until the end?
Böller und Brot GbR
Sigrun Köhler und Wiltrud Baier
Tel.: +49 (0) 711 6403590
Fax: +49 (0) 711 6403580