Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Pierre discusses moviemaking and their single-take “True Romance” video

Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack

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By Chris Harris

Justin Pierre’s career path nearly took a totally different turn some 15 years ago.

Before a friend called him and asked him to join Minnesota-based pop punk sensations Motion City Soundtrack, Pierre — the band’s frontman — actually had his sights set on Hollywood…and a career as a filmmaker.

“I have always loved movies and TV,” says Pierre from a truck stop in Kansas.

Motion City Soundtrack just released a new record — their fifth — called “Go,” and have been on tour in the states with The Front Bottoms and Henry Clay People.

“The first thing that really blew my mind, where I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to be involved in this’ was when I was a kid and saw ‘Twin Peaks,’” Pierre recalls. “I think I was 13. I watched it when it was on television and I was blown away. I thought, ‘I want to do this.’”

As a teen, Pierre says he started writing “stupid little films” he’d would then enlist his bored friends to star in. He’d shanghai his parents’ camcorder, and bring his short stories to life.

Pierre was serious about leaving his stamp on film.

“When I was 19, I bummed around and worked at a video rental place for a couple of years,” says Pierre. “I would make tons of copies of movies, and just watch them over and over and over. Later, I worked as a [production assistant] on several small films in Minneapolis.”

One was a movie by filmmaker Eric Tretbar called “Snow.”

“I was working on that when someone told me about a film school called Minneapolis Community Technical College; I enrolled, but didn’t finish, and was learning all about screenwriting and film making. That’s when [guitarist] Josh [Caine] approached me to make music with him.”

The rest, of course, is history and Motion City Soundtrack have since left their mark on the musical world — and on the medium of music video.

Pierre admits he still dabbles with film when he has time.

“I once made four short films and maxed out my credit cards, which was a terrible idea because I don’t think anyone’s ever going to see these movies — but it was a lot of fun,” Pierre says.

Pierre and the band also had fun making their new video for the track “True Romance;” Josh’s brother, Jesse Caine, directed the single-take clip.

“We are all fans of the one-take video,” Pierre says. “With ‘True Romance,’ at times, there’s upwards of 30 people behind the scenes, running up and down the street, stopping traffic, moving cars, running around…even the band members all had jobs. And it was because this video is really involved.”

The band did 15 complete takes to get just the right one.

“Growing up in the 1990s, with guys like Spike Jonze always doing these one-take video, it’s just always been fun to watch,” Pierre adds. “If you do it well, no one notices how much work goes into it.”

Pierre says he’s excited to see “The Dark Knight RIses” this summer, and has enjoyed two movies this box-office season: “The Avengers” and “2 Days in New York.”

“It’s amazing,” he says of the Julie Delpy-directed flick. “When it comes to my all-time favorite films, I’d have to say its a toss up between ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ by Jim Jarmusch or ‘Faces’ by John Cassevetes. Those are my two go-to films of all time.”

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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