American Cinematheque Mods & Rockers Film Festival

As part of its great film festival 'Mods & Rockers,' now celebrating its seventh and biggest year, American Cinematheque hosted a special screening last night of the new film 'Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out' at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Founding member and drummer of the Police, Stewart Copeland, who directed the film from his countless hours of Super-8 movies he shot throughout the band's entire career, attended the event and discussed the making of the film.

It's hard to believe that a band as big as the Police would have such limited footage available. There are only a few concert films and documentaries available, aside from the various clips during their MTV heydays, which makes 'Everyone Stares' a genuine treasure.



Unlike the majority of movies about bands, 'Everyone Stares' is not a documentary about the Police or an analysis of their musical legacy. It is a personal home movie, shot by one of its members. Like any home movie, you have to love the people in it to appreciate it completely. This raises the real question about the film: What kind of audience will it have outside of Police fans? As a Police fan, I loved it and have been anticipating seeing footage like this for over 20 years. Music lovers and documentary/behind-the-scenes fans will appreciate its raw, unfiltered and in-the-moment feel.

The real gem of 'Everyone Stares' is the rare footage of the Police in the late 1970s. Sting is an institution now, the epitome of rock royalty.  Watching him haul his luggage and bass guitar and collapse on a bed in a motel somewhere off the highway in Arizona in 1978 has a comedic effect. Footage of the Police at an early public appearance with a sparse crowd and acting as their own roadies illustrates that they were a band that started at the bottom, worked hard and earned their success.

Stewart Copeland signs Police memorabilia before screening


'Everyone Stares' has a light tone, as most home movies do, and doesn't show the infamous fights and increasing isolation of the band members. It's interesting, though, how most of the footage is from the earlier years of the band's career. A lingering scene of Sting alone in the studio in 1981 arranging every aspect of the song without input from Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers hints at the band's demise. As Copeland explained, he shot his home movies when he was happy and goofing off. When he was frustrated and depressed, he simply didn't shoot.

The use of music is clever, as Copeland includes some of the best Police riffs and jams to score the film as the band tours from city to city, records albums and performs concerts. Copeland discussed the frustration behind securing the rights to music he created and the resentment toward the long line of executives who had to be paid.

Copeland poses with fan outside American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood

What's the reason behind this movie? Why now? Technology, says Copeland. The fragile nature of Super-8 film forced him to stop viewing and editing the footage. Too much irreplaceable footage was getting destroyed. It would take the recent technological advances of inexpensive data storage and digital video editing software for Copeland to painstakingly cull through hours of footage and create a narrative film.

The extensive collection of rock and roll films showing at the American Cinematheque's 'Mods & Rockers' festival through August 31 can been viewed at here

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