Director: Josh Merritt
Cast: Jack Warner, Rob Fellman
Plot: An inexperienced journalist (Fellman) gets the chance to interview recluse rock star Merv Fields (Warner), a task that proves more difficult than he imagined.
Rock stars have always been a mythological creature. Ever since the music scene was revolutionised by the iconic greats, we have had these pop culture symbols that have become timeless through their music. Elvis Presley is very possibly the most talked about singer of all time, but not far behind him are iconic stars like Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury… Certain stars like Ozzy Osbourne are more than old rock stars, but legends. He is arguably more caricature than person. As a result, we, as an audience, are endlessly fascinated at the rock star. They are untouchable people, surrounded by an aura of rebellious risk-taking that paid off. This makes them the perfect muse for a budding screen-writer who wants to get to the bottom of their spirit, break down the walls and reveal the man underneath the armour. We have seen movies take on this task with the likes of The Rose and Miles Ahead – even Get Him To The Greek revolved around a fictional rock star that touched base on several real life inspirations. Now Josh Merritt, independent screen-writer turned director, has a go at tackling the issue with his short film, Echoes. His set-up is simple to cut straight to the point. A young reporter actually comes knocking on an ageing recluse’s door to interview him, his job the same as both the director’s and the audience’s. Find out what makes Jack Warner’s Merv Fields tick.
Our first impression of Merv Fields is a negative one, instantly telling us where Josh Merritt is going with his rock star exploration. Merv is a man who appears to have been living as an impulsive daredevil for so long that he is now living out his twilight years in a constant state of miserable regret. He is aware of his sorry condition, but at the same time, far too proud to go out there and remedy it. He is stuck in his ways, a man so used to being independent that he finds himself unable to hold his hand out and accept things from those around him. One particularly sad moment sees Merv unable to bear his old music anymore, the one thing that usually grounds these rock star characters turning into yet another part of his life that connotes miserableness. It could be argued that the one regret is that the short is unable to truly dissect Merv. We are given a picture of this rock star, but he spends the entire running time deflecting any attempt to understand him. Keys like a protectiveness over the pictures on the mantelpiece or his aversion to old band mates give us a strong idea of who this man is, but we never truly know. Perhaps that is the point. Maybe Josh Merritt’s point is that, despite the eager journalists and movies made about these men, we can never truly connect with them. They are forever the hazy memories of their younger counterparts, an era of time more than an actual person.
Final Verdict: An interesting debate that highlights our image of the rock stars of old. While it doesn’t further the discussion, it does bring it to the surface well.
Echoes will be released on the 5th December and be free to watch.