Hardcore Norfolk: The DVD (Veer Magazine, Dec. 15, 2012)

By Jeff Maisey / Courtesy of Veer Magazine

“Hardcore Norfolk: The Movie” is being released on DVD as “Hardcore Norfolk: A Story of Rock ‘n’ Roll Survival” on December 21. The event is being celebrated with two silver screen showings of the film that night at Cinema Café in Virginia Beach (7 PM and 9:15 PM) as well as a concert December 22 at the Taphouse Ghent featuring Death Trip, The Bottle Babies, The Plurals and Crissy Babe & the Dastards.

 “Hardcore Norfolk” was first shown in the summer of 2011 with much fanfare at the Naro. The lengthy film documented Norfolk’s underground punk rock music scene that sprang forth in the late 1970s and continued through the early 2000s. Rare video footage, photographs, album covers and gig fliers along with current, retrospective interview segments were painstakingly pieced together to tell the story of the scene through the eyes of fans, musicians, artists, photographers and fashionistas. Featured bands included The M-80s, Candy Snatchers, Waxing Poetics, Buttsteak, White Cross, Antic Hay, Starving Artists, Thin Lads, Tango Storm, Left Wing Fascists, Ant Man Bee and dozens more.

To preface the punk scene’s arrival, the film glances back at Norfolk’s pioneering rock and rollers of the 1950s and ‘60s like Gary US Bonds and Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps.

For the documentary’s creators Debra Persons, Paul Unger and Andrea Rizzo, was a commendable first-time movie and learning experience, one capped off with a showing at this year’s Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.

“The Festival was like a dream come true,” said Persons, who also submitted it to Sundance and South By Southwest. “The friends who came from Norfolk and other places to support us, the pre-movie cocktail party and after movie show with Thee Apostles and Big Bobby & The Nightcaps, really made the night.  We got a nice, funny review in the UVA paper and a decent turnout in the theatre.”

The film locals will see is slightly different than the version that played the Naro. The director's cut is 103 minutes, rather than the previous two full hours.

“We made several edits after watching the movie on the big screen at the Naro and the Virginia Film Festival,” said Rizzo. “We had a few outside folks who work within the film industry review for interest, flow, and make suggestions on how to re-frame it. Most of what we cut out of the original movie was turned into bonus features, which are included as a second DVD. We wanted the Director's Cut to be the most streamlined version of our movie.”

The 85 minutes of extras include movie outtakes, band interviews, Hardcore Norfolk events at the Colley Cantina, band videos Paul Unger created, and other video segments previously unseen. Above all, the producers wanted to make sure their friends and those interested in the scene had an excellent time capsule. I all, the film was pulled together in 12 months time.

“Every time I see it, which has been many, many times by now, I am blown away by how much we pulled together in a short period of time, how much material our friends and fans of the scene gave us access to, and how great our music scene really is,” said Rizzo. “The energy of our scene shines, and I'm so proud of how it's presented.”

Both Rizzo and Persons give most of the credit to the camera work and film editing capabilities of Paul Unger.

“I have been in love with this movie since I saw the first little piece that Paul put together,” said Persons.  “I have always been blown away by his ability to somehow match the perfect snippet of a song with just the right still photo or video shot. The story sort of told itself and we just had to organize, gather materials, reach out to people, and turn it all over to Paul to work his magic.”

Those who were in the movie or helped will be given free copies (you know who you are). For the public, the DVD will be $15/each, and the soundtrack CDs will be $10/each.

Paul Unger