S is for… Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen

We’re heading into the final stretch of our A to Z journey through the Music-Fan Connection, and so I thought I would highlight the men responsible for bringing several great music documentaries to the fans in recent years.

Sam Dunn is a heavy metal anthropologist. How cool is that? That’s got to be fun to tell people at cocktail parties! He and fellow filmmaker Scot McFadyen launched their award-winning Canadian Film and TV production company, Banger Films, in 2005. They solidified their position as leading authorities on the genre with their film released that same year, Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, which won the Gemini Writing Award in 2007.

During Iron Maiden’s Somewhere Back in Time tour in early 2008, fans at the shows began to see glimpses of Sam and Scot in action. The duo were filming the concerts, the crowds, and the flight patterns of a certain Boeing 757 airplane customized and outfitted for flying 12 tons of gear, band and crew by captain/singer Bruce Dickinson. (You may remember him from my B post.) The result was a fabulous full-length documentary for Maiden fans and novices alike, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, that was simultaneously launched on over 450 screens in 41 countries Worldwide, making it the largest simultaneous worldwide release ever of a documentary film. My favorite part of the film was when the band arrived at the venue in India and found the stage made out of wood and lashed together with bamboo (surprisingly solid), and elephants walking around. The film won the 2010 Juno Award for Music DVD of the Year, and the 2010 SXSW Audience Choice Award.

Scot and Sam then tackled the Canadian heavy prog rock cult heroes Rush as the subject of their Grammy-nominated and Juno-winning Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage. Billed as “The band you know. The story you don’t.”, the film takes you behind the scenes, including amazing archival footage from guitarist Alex’s Lifeson’s teenage years.

I ran into Sam Dunn backstage at an Iron Maiden show last year, and he mentioned Banger’s latest project, which is a forthcoming documentary on Alice Cooper. The iconic shock rocker was touring with Iron Maiden at the time. Having read Alice Cooper’s biography “Golf Monster”, I mentioned my interest in the fact that Alice Cooper was the only rocker ever honored by the Friar’s Club, and asked if the documentary would reflect the humorous side of Cooper. Sam commented that the film really delved into all aspects of Cooper’s career and tackled some very heavy subject matter as well. Really looking forward to checking it out when it releases, hopefully within the next year. Hats off to Scot and Sam for showing us fans such a unique perspective on the world of music!

With friends and Sam Dunn, Toronto 2012

With friends and Sam Dunn, Toronto 2012

With friends and Sam Dunn, Toronto 2012

“Ever since I was 12 years old I’ve had to defend my love for heavy metal against those who say it’s a less valid form of music. My answer now is that you either feel it or you don’t. If metal doesn’t give that overwhelming surge of power that make the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That’s okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we’re doing just fine without you.” – Sam Dunn, Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

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  • messymimi

    It takes a special kind of anthropologist/filmmaker to tell these stories, and i’m glad they found the muse together.

    • jesstopper

      Agreed!