In an age where even documentary films are succumbing to the style-over-substance aesthetic, David Peck and Phil Galloway, along with music journalist Rob Bowman, favor cinematography that’s simple and direct, which is the way stories like Redding’s should be told.
“Our philosophy or motto is: we make DVDs for people who don’t have ADD,” says Peck, “[where people] will watch something and not … say, ‘Oh, I’m bored. Let’s change it,’ you know? And when you do watch MTV, or things like that, they’ll do things with 27 different cameras. I don’t need to see shots of a guy’s toes. Let something breathe, you know? Let yourself be enveloped in the story, in the music, in the footage.”
That’s easy to do in “Dreams to Remember,” the Reelin’ In The Years/Stax Records production that features 16 vintage television performances by the Soul music legend and 40 minutes of interviews with people like Booker T. & The MGs guitarist Steve Cropper, Otis’ wife Zelma, and Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, among others. The interviews were conducted by Bowman, a longtime Stax enthusiast and Grammy award-winning writers who also penned an extensive essay on Redding’s life and career that’s included in the 24-page booklet that comes with the DVD. The DVD coincides with the 40th anniversary of Redding’s death and the 50th anniversary of Stax Records.
Included in the documentary is a new video for “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”
“Well, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is an interesting conundrum if you’re doing an Otis Redding project,” says Galloway. “Because, clearly, it is his most recognizable song, [but] it wasn’t completed before his death, so there are obviously no performances. At Reelin’ In The Years, what we do as well as make documentaries, is we’re the world’s largest music footage archive, and we license footage to all sorts of documentaries, all the MTV and VH1 programs and stuff … Because this DVD had such a big documentary component, we really felt like we needed to have ‘Dock of the Bay’ in there. So, especially ’cause there’s so much talk of him waking up to it, and it’s so close to being around his death, and it really plays into the last part of his life in such a huge way. So, we decided we did want to do a video for it.”
The plan originally was to shoot it in Super 8 mm film, “so it looked older,” says Galloway.
As fate would have it, during the shoot, the video maker ran into the woman who owned the boathouse where Otis wrote the song in 1967. “She’s sold it since, but she owned that boathouse,” says Galloway. “It was an amazing thing of fate —bumped into her. She took him over. She showed him where the boat was moored, what the perspective was, and she gave him a photo of the boathouse to use in the video for it.”
As Peck says, “There were a lot of wonderful things that happened during this process. And we really hope that people are moved by it like we were. I think they will because there really isn’t anything like it.”