Ron Chapman marks rock history with Crave original doc

The Canada/France copro documents the historic Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in 1969, which was John Lennon's first performance without the Beatles.
August 11, 2021

Vancouver’s Screen Siren Pictures and Toronto’s Chapman Productions have partnered with Bell Media streamer Crave on the original documentary Rock and Roll Revival (working title), an international coproduction revolving around music promoter John Brower’s life-changing concert at the University of Toronto in 1969.

The project, which is currently in production, is a copro with Films A Cinq in Paris. Pennebaker Hegedus Films in New York will executive produce the doc in association with Crave, Photon Films and ARTE. Photon Films (formerly Pacific Northwest Pictures) is handling the Canadian theatrical release.

Trish Dolman, Sally Blake and Ron Chapman produce. Myriad Pictures is the distributor outside of Canada.

Directed by Chapman and written by Phyllis Ellis, Rock and Roll Revival centers on what Rolling Stone once deemed “the second most important event in rock and roll history:” a one-day music festival held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium. It traces the behind-the-scenes story of Brower, who saved the concert after he convinced John Lennon to come and perform for union scale, a rumoured amount of $265.

The likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, The Doors and Alice Cooper rounded out the eventual lineup, which marked Lennon’s first appearance without the Beatles, in his Plastic Ono Band debut.

“A story of passion and perseverance, this never-before documented story reveals a series of colourful characters, murky deals and broken promises, culminating in John Brower, a young renegade promoter, putting his life on the line (literally) in order to achieve his goals,” reads the official release.

In order to tell the 90-minute feature, the film pulls from a cinematic archive that includes unreleased concert footage on original 16mm film, as well as firsthand accounts of those who were there for the legendary event.

Production began on July 8 and is expected to continue through to Nov. 1 with shoots in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berlin. The final product is expected to tour the festival circuit beginning Spring 2022. Rock and Roll Revival will be available on Crave in Canada, and on ARTE in France and Germany.

Additional funding support comes from Telefilm Canada, Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, Rogers Documentary Fund, Hot Docs Slaight Music Fund, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund and the Centre National du Cinéma in France.

From Playback‘s Amber Dowling.

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