Lee Hutchings (director of the upcoming film Dance with the Devil: The Cozy Powell Story) interview

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What is the current status of Dance with the Devil: The Cozy Powell Story, your upcoming film about legendary drummer Cozy Powell?

Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story is currently in development and will be moving into the early stages of production very soon.

When and how exactly did you first discover Cozy Powell?

Before taking up a career as a director, I was a hard hitting rock drummer and I used to visit a website called Drummerworld (www.drummerworld.com). On this site, you could read profiles, watch videos and listen to tracks by various drummers and one of the drummers featured was Cozy Powell. To be honest, I knew nothing about Cozy. However, by reading the biography and watching the links, he immediately caught my attention.

There was a great video of Cozy playing a mini-solo and that really fired my imagination and inspired me in my own playing. From there, I went on to YouTube and watched countless videos of him as well as finding out and listening to records which he played on. I soon found that I had a new drumming hero to add to my growing list.

What is it about Cozy Powell that made you decide to make a film about his life and legacy?

Cozy was a drummer who was, and is still considered, a titan of the drumming world and a musician’s musician, meaning that those in the drumming and music worlds know of him and of his incredible achievements. Other than that though, it seems that he has been largely forgotten by the public, unlike British drumming heroes such as John Bonham or Ringo Starr and I strongly feel that needs to change.

Over a very long career playing in legendary bands such as Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Whitesnake, alongside his own solo work, Cozy was able to stamp his mark on the history of rock music and drumming and, in the process, inspire generations of drummers and fans the world over. However, what is more is the fact that he achieved all of this from a background of a broken childhood. He was an underdog.

Cozy Powell was an orphan who had to work his way up from the personal problems in his life to become the legend that he is considered today and, along with his musical journey, I want to delve into his personal journey and pay the highest tribute to him, not only as an amazing drummer but also as a person who reached the highest of careers only to fall in the most tragic of circumstances in 1998, leaving us his legacy.

What are some of your favorite albums and/or songs with Cozy Powell on drums and why?

Without a doubt, my favourite albums which Cozy played on were with Rainbow. Rainbow Rising and Long Live Rock n’ Roll are sheer classics and brilliantly show Cozy’s playing to the fullest. Dynamic yet solid, that was the Cozy style! Also worth checking out are the Jeff Beck Group recordings Rough and Ready and The Jeff Beck Group.

I’m currently only really familiar with Cozy Powell’s work in Black Sabbath. However, Headless Cross is absolutely in my top 5 of favorite Sabbath albums (above many of the Ozzy and Dio era Sabbath albums, in fact) and in large part because of Cozy’s kick ass drumming on it. What’s your opinion of that album?

Headless Cross is a great album and is considered one of the “listen to” albums that Cozy played on. What this album clearly shows is how Cozy was able to take over the drumming stool of Bill Ward, original long serving drummer of Black Sabbath, and was able to not only stand on his own with his own style of playing but to also pay tribute to Ward by keeping his playing familiar to the Black Sabbath sound and feel for their fans.

Tracks such as “Headless Cross”, “When Death Calls” and “Devil and Daughter” are great examples of the band sounding like a cross between the Ozzy and Dio eras, thanks mainly to Tony Martin’s vocals, and Cozy’s playing fits right in with Iommi’s epic guitar riffs and Neil Murray’s booming bass.

As a filmmaker, who are some of your influences and why?

I have so many to choose from but for me, the two main influences on my work are Sidney Lumet and Alexander Mackendrick. When compared to the Spielbergs and Kubricks, both were relatively unknown but were expertly talented and unique filmmakers who weren’t afraid to make the films they wanted to see.

Their film-making styles weren’t about trying to please everyone. They wanted to tell good and engaging stories and this can be clearly seen in their work. For Lumet: 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and The Verdict. For Mackendrick: Whiskey Galore, The Ladykillers and Sweet Smell of Success.

Both were also brilliant teachers of the craft of filmmaking and both have books still in print regarding the subject. Lumet’s Making Movies and Mackendrick’s On Film-Making are essential reading for any aspiring filmmakers, actors or writers. They are the bibles that you MUST read if you want to have a career in the film and television industry.

Briefly discuss each of the films that you’ve completed so far.

I have completed a variety of short films that have included emotional dramas, police & crime dramas, oddball & satirical comedies and a documentary short.

Besides the Cozy Powell documentary, briefly discuss each of the films that you’re currently working on.

Besides Dance With The Devil, I am also working on several other feature film projects, including a period piece chronicling the life of renowned Scottish “poet” William McGonagall, an office based sci-fi comedy, an emotional drama about a cancer sufferer on one last road trip and a TV crime series following a career thief in search of redemption.

For further information on these projects, as well as my previous work, please go to www.leehutchingsfilms.com

Even though you’re a schooled filmmaker, do you personally feel that it’s necessary for aspiring filmmakers to have some sort of formal training? Why or why not?

Yes and no. Looking back now, I don’t regret going to film school but do regret the cost of going to film school. Film school is great for meeting like-minded people and contacts who have the same ambitions and desires of becoming filmmakers, although I’ve always considered myself a ‘director’ rather than a ‘filmmaker’ and you are also in an environment where you will be taught the basics of filmmaking giving you, the student, a foundation for which to base all of your future work on.

That said, I do have issues with the costs of film schools. In some cases, going to film school costs more than going to university if public funding isn’t available. For the amount spent going to film school, or less, you could most likely pick up a reasonably good camera, lighting and sound equipment and copies of Making Movies & On Film-Making and be out there filmmaking on your own or with friends. However, you would be out ‘in the cold’ so to speak, without the guidance of experienced teachers, so you would be more likely to make mistakes and also not have the contacts to build your career upon.

At the end of the day,
it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not film school is for them. However, I would say that if you do want to go to film school, look into as many schools as possible and choose wisely. And if you don’t, buy that camera as soon as possible and get out there and start making films. The sooner, the better!

What’s your advice to not only aspiring filmmakers but to anybody who is contemplating working in the entertainment industry in some capacity?

As with the previous questions, it’s all about ambition and experience. If you want to work as a filmmaker or within the entertainment industry, you need to get out there, make films, get them seen and network both on and off the set. You need to be seen and heard. It’s only when you get out there that people will take note of you and will, hopefully, give you the opportunities you need in pushing your career forward.

Also, watch as much film and television as possible. The more you watch and take in, the more you’ll be able to adapt the lessons learned into your own work. The same can be said for reading – read as many books on filmmaking and filmmakers. Learn from the past and use it to build your future.

For further information on Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story, please visit:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dance-With-The-Devil-The-Cozy-Powell-Story/275805889149464

Twitter: @cozypowellfilm

Website: www.cozypowellfilm.com

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