Filmmaker sacrifices all to tell story of iconic guitarist dad and "The Wrecking Crew"May 23, 2012 @ 6:04 pm (Updated: 5:47 am - 5/24/12 )
Legendary guitarist Tommy Tedesco and bassist Carol Kaye, two members of the prolific studio musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew." (Image courtesy Denny Tedesco)
Growing up, Denny Tedesco didn't think it was a big deal when his dad Tommy would go off to work or bring his friends by after.
It was only when he got a little older that he realized who they were. The Wrecking Crew. A group of studio musicians who played on hundreds of the biggest hits of the 60's and 70's.
"A lot of people don't know that so many of these musicians were the recording group for the Beach Boys, the Phil Spector Wall of Sound, Jan and Dean, Sam Cooke, the Mamas and the Papas. They did the Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man," Denny says.
Along with all that amazing music were the amazing stories. And when Denny's dad was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to gather as many members of the Wrecking Crew as he could muster, including his father.
"I always wanted to do a story of my father and his friends. I thought, if I don't do it now it's never going to happen, because we knew he didn't have much time."
Legendary guitarist Tommy Tedesco died in 1997, before Denny could finish his film. And Denny was committed to honoring his father the incredible music he helped make. But rather than cut corners, he was determined to include as much music as possible.
"I said you have to have the music. You can't do it without it, and you have to have the quantity. I have 133 song cues in it and you'll know 130. These musicians put so much music out there," Denny says.
But it would almost prove to be his undoing. The price tag is over $300,000 just to use all that music. And despite tremendous critical response (including winning the audience favorite award at the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival), no studios or investors have stepped forward to help cover the costs for songs like California Dreaming, Good Vibrations and Mr. Tambourine Man.
So he's done it himself, putting everything he has and starting a non-profit to take donations to finance the film.
"My wife worries this is the most expensive home movie in history. We did everything you're not supposed to do as a filmmaker, put your own money into it, do the house you do this and do that," Denny says.
He's been scratching and clawing for a number of years, and admits he's thought about giving up a number of times.
But Denny says his father's words to a music student he met after Tommy died inspired him to keep going.
"He said, 'Success goes to the person who's standing last.' That was really inspiring for me. I gotta keep going. I'm not going to give up."
So Denny will continue crossing the country, screening the Wrecking Crew for all to see including Thursday at EMP in Seattle. And he keeps getting a little closer to making the dream of bringing his father's story to the screen a reality.
"We're really close. I want the musicians to get the love that they deserve. They gave us so much."
The Wrecking Crew screens Thursday night May 24th at EMP Museum.
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