I am trying to break your heart…

1. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco, 2002

2. Directed by: Sam Jones – Produced by:Peter Abraham, Sam Jones and Gary Hustwit – Distributed by: Plexifilm

3. I viewed this film at home, after my roommate ordered it from Netflix.

4. Target Audience: This film is a documentary about the indie rock band Wilco’s journey in making and distributing their fourth studio album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Therefore, the target audience would be those who are not only interested in Wilco, the band, but also how the music industry works.

5. This black-and-white documentary by Sam Jones, a first time filmmaker and award winning photographer, was distributed on DVD by Plexifilm, an independent DVD label that produces original films, releases films theatrically, and produces, distributes and markets DVDs. The film never saw release in theaters, but was submitted to, and selected as part of, the Official Selections of the Los Angeles, London and Stockholm International Film Festivals, in 2002. Additionally, the film is considered independent due to the subject matter of the film… being that it’s a documentary about an, at the time, independent rock band.

6. Film Description: The film provides a unique insight into the politics of the music industry… more specifically, how bands relate to their record labels, by chronicling the process of Wilco recording their 4th studio album, an album that critics have hailed as their landmark, their masterpiece, their ticket to fame. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Wilco… while nearing completion of the album, tension arose between the band and their record label, Reprise, a division of the Warner Music Group. Wilco’s prior albums hadn’t brought in the amount of money that Reprise wanted to see and thus Wilco was dropped from the label. With a completed album and no contractual obligations to Reprise, Wilco made the album available to download on their website. Interest peaked, hard, and Wilco’s profile began to rise, catching the eye of Nonesuch Records, again a division of Warner Music Group (meaning the band was essentially paid, twice, by Warner for this album). This film also explores the, at the time, growing tension amongst the band mates, most noticeably between front man Jeff Tweedy and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett (Bennett was fired from the band upon the completion of the album due to “artistic differences”).  Additionally, the film gets up close and personal with Tweedy, capturing, on film, his chronic migraines and the debilitation they cause him.

7. Technical Considerations: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart is more than just a documentary on Wilco’s 4th album, but rather it manages to show a quiet sort of intimacy amongst the band’s members. Sam Jones achieves this, not only by using black-and-white film, but also by taking a Cinema-vérité stance. The band is observed, more so than questioned, letting the audience see into who they really are as opposed to who they present themselves to be.

 

 

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