STATEN ISLAND — Forget CBGB. A filmmaker documenting the hardcore punk scene of the '80s is concentrating on a borough a ferry ride from the Lower East Side.
City Lights owners Anthony Clemente and Samuel Peralta started filming the project earlier this year as a way to tell the story of a music scene they grew up with — and which is largely ignored.
“It was such a big thing in Staten Island,” said Peralta, 33, who played in bands like Bigwheel and Indifference.
“Back in the day there were all these people, there were hundreds of people here for music that was made by teenagers and children basically.”
With bands like Sheer Terror, Enrage, The Cable Car Theory and Dreams Forever Drowning who played in venues like Dock Street and the Real McCoy, Peralta said the project will cast a light on the often overlooked influence the island had.
“We kind of feel Staten Island is kind of overlooked and nobody cared,” he said. “It’s this big, important thing that we just want to document to each other.”
So far, the project has raised $810 of the $8,500 goal in only one day, and has got a donation from musician Kevin Devine, who grew up on Staten Island and is scheduled to be interviewed for the documentary.
“It's overwhelming that people really care,” Peralta said. “It's now finding out that this is a very important part of other people’s lives. You find out that it meant the same thing for other people.”
The documentary will focus on the hardcore scene’s beginnings in the borough in the mid 1980’s up until around 2000, Peralta said, with a small section on the current scene with the band Vice HC.
The duo has already shot between 16 and 17 hours worth of interviews with members of various bands, Staten Islander Brian Cogan who wrote the “Encyclopedia of Punk,” record label owners and fans.
Aside from local bands, the documentary will touch on bigger names that played the former Paramount like the Dead Kennedys, Metallica, PiL and Mission of Burma.
Peralta said they should wrap up interviews by November, and then work on digitizing old VHS tapes and footage of concerts sent to them. They plan on releasing the film in September 2014.
They are also looking into either making a double DVD with songs and full life performances of the bands, or putting out a compilation CD of songs so younger Staten Islanders can discover their borough's punk past, Peralta said.
Aside from historical value of the film, for Peralta it was a way to tell a story of his life when he was a teenager, and maybe show his own three-year-old son what his dad was like.
“I’m just a guy who wanted to tell a story about a big important part of my life when I was 16,” he said.
“Maybe he’ll say ‘Daddy was cool back in the day.’”