AT ANY COST
MIX OF SONG AND STORY IGNITES COMPELLING PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG BAND
"It's the best of both worlds: a great story about music and musicians, With great music and musicians to tell that story. I think, as a team, we've achieved a unique synthesis-crafting the marriage of two contemporary art forms without sacrificing the integrity of either."
So says Spencer Proffer, one of the principals at the creative helm of At Any Cost, an edgy, honest and up-front look at what it takes-and what it costs-to make it in the modern music business. Proffer and the "team," which includes accomplished father-and-son screenwriters Roderick and Bruce A. Taylor and acclaimed director Charles Winkler, as well as the creative prowess of the VH1 network-on which At Any Cost will air, August 16-have indeed taken the hackneyed rags-to-riches formula into new and breathtakingly original territory.
The proof is both on the screen, where At Any Cost brings an unmistakable cinematic authenticity to its tale of life, love and hard choices on the L.A. music scene, and on At Any Cost-the remarkable companion soundtrack release-set for shipment in early August on Reprise Records. The Shakespearean approach to a tale of betrayal, treachery and deceit with a familial framework lends itself to classic dramatic storytelling. The movie is about two brothers and their best friend/manager, all of whom find themselves locked in deadly conflict in the course of their attempts to get their music across to the public.
The Taylors' unique vision for a feature takes on the music industry on its own terms-bringing a vitality, veracity and sometimes scathing perspective to a world too-often hidden behind a veil of glitz and glamour. Another key element was VH1 executive Michael Larkin, who had been charged with finding and developing a project that would put the network in the fast-emerging TV movie production sweepstakes. The music dramatically punctuates the film, yet firmly stands alone as an album that contemporary fans can enjoy outside of the movie.
The property and production wherewithal were then brought together with spectacular results by the Taylors, Proffer and VH1. Proffer, a self-described "true rock refugee," has a professional dossier that reads like a comprehensive history of hit music over the past several decades. With production, songwriting and arranging credits that range from Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder to Quiet Riot, Cheap Trick and B.B. King-and more recently, tracks with blink-182, Terence Trent D'Arby and Marc Anthony-Proffer has been responsible for sales of upward 30 million albums over the course of his career, including a remarkable eighty-plus films for which he has handled the music. As founder and CEO of Morling Manor Music & Media, he has helmed a dizzying array of acclaimed music, film and television projects as both producer and music producer-from the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters, on which he served as co-executive producer, to MTV's first hour-long dramatic series, Live Through This, for which he co-wrote, produced and arranged all the original music. Proffer was also a producer of the play and original cast album from the smash Broadway Tony- nominated musical It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues and the landmark CBS miniseries Shake, Rattle & Roll.
Rod Taylor and Proffer met many years ago when Spencer, while head of A&R for United Artists Records, signed Rod to a recording contract. After four albums as an artist and songwriter (two of which were produced by Proffer), Taylor went on to team up with his son Bruce to write and produce over forty broadcast properties, including MTV's award-winning series Dead at 21 and the Michael Douglas feature film Star Chamber. Once Proffer made his successful transition from exclusively producing music to include feature film and television production, their re-teaming for this Taylor-original screenplay was a natural evolution.
Naturally, telling a story in which music played so central a role would bring out Proffer and Taylor's natural instincts for the best in songs and singers. "From the very beginning, an important element of the story was as a platform for the music," Rod Taylor continues. For that very reason is a six-song showcase from Beyond Gravity, a new group performing material written by Rod Taylor and produced by both Proffer and Taylor. "These songs were written well before the film was shot," explains Proffer. "The idea was to create music that would advance the story but still fit organically within the framework of the piece. The only way to do that was to have total control over the elements that made up the whole- the story, the songs and, of course, the performers. It was a unique approach and a risky one, but I think the results speak for themselves."
A seasoned executive who would no doubt agree is Reprise Records President Howie Klein, who early on grasped the project's unique vision and put At Any Cost on the fast track. "Howie was tremendously excited about the project," Proffer continues, "and wanted us to consider using additional tracks from some key Reprise artists. Of course, we were delighted with the opportunity, and when we first heard 'Pinch Me' we knew we had found a wonderful complement to our story."
"Pinch Me," the debut single from At Any Cost, comes courtesy of Reprise's multiplatinum sensation Barenaked Ladies. Says Rod Taylor, "It's a song that expresses perfectly the edge and intensity of the movie, which is why we used it for the opening sequence.