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'Festival' Documentary to Show the Fans Behind the (Live) Music

 A festival goer at the 2013 North Coast Music Festival.
A festival goer at the 2013 North Coast Music Festival.
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Sebastian Lama

CHICAGO — People often talk about traveling around the world or running a marathon when bringing up their goals before they die. 

Michael Raspatello just needs a camera, and enough computer memory for 10 terabytes of videos. 

"This is gonna sound ridiculous, but creating a documentary film is the No. 1 item on my bucket list," he said.

Raspatello, a former Uptown resident, is raising money for a movie following seven music lovers in Chicago amid the rapid growth of large, destination festivals. He's already recorded "years" of footage starting with the 2013 North Coast Music Festival in Union Park, and now is seeking the funds for music licensing and archived film. 

Unlike classic concert movies such as "Woodstock" or "The Song Remains The Same," Raspatello's project, "Festival," flips the lens from musicians to the fans who travel to see their favorite bands — or any bands — play. 

"I wanted to take the camera off the rock star and put it on the person there with their own story to tell," said Raspatello, 33, who recently moved to San Francisco.

The film follows seven fest-goers during a three-day weekend: the 2013 North Coast Festival. Their backgrounds are disparate as their music tastes: Tracy, 22, is an "upwardly mobile" professional who loves live shows; Austin, 26, returns to the festivals he circled as a drug dealer before serving three years in jail. 

The takeaway, Raspatello said, is that festivals are larger than ever as the music industry shifts from selling records to promoting events akin to a Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza.

"[The movie is] meant to be the first inward work about what’s driven the growth in the festival industry, and how that’s changed over time," he said. 

Watch: Raspatello's fundraising video. 

Gary Bongiovanni, president and editor-in-chief of Fresno, Calif.-based Pollstar, said his publication's latest annual festival guide listed 1,500 large music festivals worldwide for 2015. That's way more festivals than there were "even five years ago," he said. 

"It's become an increasingly important part of the concert business," Bongiovanni said. "It's the last way [artists] can make money these days. You can't tour every four or five years and live off royalties." 

Most of the drama occurs at North Coast, but Raspatello's project also includes footage from Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and — Raspatello hopes — 60 years of archived concert footage. He's already raised nearly $13,000 toward his film, but hopes to collect a total of $25,000 by promising donors gifts ranging from social media mentions to title credits. 

If he reaches his goal, Raspatello hopes to start submitting his movie to film festivals next month. Whether it gets picked up by a distributor for wider release or not, he plans to screen the movie's premiere in Chicago in the fall. 

"Every generation needs a place to go into a big field and listen to cool music," Raspatello said. "The only thing we’re doing is changing the name of that field."

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