Journey didn’t pay for their own movie
The film-maker behind Journey’s documentary movie says that when she started work she was hoping the band would offer to pay for production.
When they didn’t, she found other ways to fund the work – and by the time they did want to contribute cash, she didn’t want to take it.
Keep On Believin’: Everyman’s Journey follows the rise of previously-unknown vocalist Arnel Pineda from his hiring in 2008 to the 2010 Eclipse album recording sessions, and his return home to the poverty-stricken Filipino city of Manila.
Director Ramona Diaz tells Ultimate Classic Rock that the financial aspect “never came together” during production. She explains: “It would have been different if the band came to us and said, ‘Hey, make this film.’ We were sort of going after that; when they finally said yes we couldn’t say, ‘Oh, yeah, can you pay for it?’
“My producer put it on her credit cards, and when she ran out of that I borrowed money from my family. Then we got some investors from friends and family – small, small amounts of money.”
Once they warmed to the idea Journey became more supportive, but by that time Diaz had established a method of working.
“We started in 2008, the summer tour, and we jumped on and off,” she explains. “We’d run out of money, jump off, make some commercials, raise some money and jump back on.”
Eventually the band did offer to open their wallets. “At some point they realised, ‘Oh, okay, this might be something.’ By then we didn’t want to cross that line of taking their money, because then we would be making a vanity project. We needed to stay independent – so that’s what we’ve done this entire time.”
Diaz was surprised to discover that, despite their fame and fortune, Neal Schon and co weren’t used to being followed by cameras. “The tough thing was when I wanted to film them writing a song,” she reports. “They gave me permission finally when we were in Manila and they wrote City of Hope, which they dedicated to Arnel and the city, because they were so inspired.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to let me film this.’ By then, they knew me and they knew that I wasn’t out to get them. I think it’s just a matter of hanging out long enough that they trust you and they get used to you.”
And there’s plenty of material that didn’t make it into the final cut, says the director: “I actually continued filming with the guys in their homes, which is not in the film. I thought the film could handle that, but it couldn’t.”
Despite saying she was “never a hardcore Journey fan” Diaz says she’s been impressed by what she learned about the band.
“It was surprising to find out they were the ones who started the big monitors on stage, so that people in the nosebleeds would feel like it was still an intimate experience. Now it’s a matter of course, but the fact that they were the first ones – I was like, ‘Wow.’
“Then they got their reputation for being corporate rock, because they were so slick and got sponsors. Now everyone gets sponsors. Ross Valory actually told me a really funny story about how Mick Jagger came around and visited them in San Francisco, wanting to know how they did it and what they were doing business-wise.
“They created a catalog and not just one or two songs, but a catalog of music that’s timeless and works. Every night, it works. I saw it: you feel the energy, like it’s the first time. That’s magic – not everyone can do that. To me, it’s just pretty incredible what they’ve done.”