There was a really noticeable continued "rise" in their star, even during the short time that I was hanging out with them. I saw the change happen.
—John Barnard, director
When The Sheepdogs beat out 15 other bands to become the first unsigned act to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, they made headlines all over the place.
Since then, they've signed to a major label, appeared as part of a fashion design challenge on Project Runway and played major music festivals and late night talk shows.
A new documentary charting the rise of this Saskatoon band recently premiered at the Whistler Film Festival. The Sheepdogs Have At It was produced by Winnipeg's Farpoint Films and directed by John Barnard.
SCENE sat down with Barnard, to discuss shooting this pivotal point of the band's career.
What was the concept behind the film?
The idea was that after the Sheepdogs won the Rolling Stone
cover, things wouldn't just suddenly be easy. Their lives might actually get more difficult. All of a sudden, all eyes were upon them and they had something to lose. Why did you want to tell this band's story?
I found the material to be a little outside my normal comfort zone and trying something new was exciting. The band was a little wary of cinematic contrivances, just because they'd been put in that situation a few times previously and were unhappy with the results. So their only wish was that nothing be setup or fake. But I love controlling things and directing every detail, so working as a "fly on the wall" presented an opportunity that was new and different.
At what point did you start shooting?
Director John Barnard (courtesy Farpoint Films)
I started working in September of 2011, just a couple months after they won the cover. I came onboard about three days before the first shoot, not really knowing much about the band. I found a crew and we drove to Saskatoon to start shooting. How long was the shooting process?
We shot for about 4-5 months, basically hopping on planes to meet the band wherever they were touring. We also went into the studio in Nashville with them to make a new record with their producer Pat Carney, the drummer from the Black Keys.
What was the most surprising thing that happened during the process?
I watched the attention around them grow daily. There was a really noticeable continued "rise" in their star, even during the short time that I was hanging out with them. I saw the change happen.
What do you want people to come away with after watching the film?
This film is a portrait of artists at a very particular time in their lives, that short window of rapid fame where everything changes. Not that they won't have more success, but the glow around them was unusually warm after the contest. These guys dealt with that very well, kept working as hard as they ever did, and kept treating everyone as well as they ever did. It is possible to handle this kind of enormous life change responsibly.How has the reception been so far?
We've had one screening, closing The Whistler Film Festival, and it was just great. People were cheering at the text cards on screen.When can people in Winnipeg see it?
I'm afraid there are no plans yet but there will be something. The Sheepdogs consider Winnipeg their second home, just because it was the closest place for them to do shows. I know many people here will interested and I'll make sure they get a chance to see it.The Sheepdogs play the Burton Cummings Theatre December 11th with Yukon Blonde.