Ramona S. Diaz's Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey tells the story of Arnel Pineda, a man who was plucked from YouTube to become the new frontman for Journey, the iconic rock & roll band. Diaz was given complete access to the band and their 'process,' capturing everything as they adjusted to their new lead singer and preformed on their highly successful Revolution Tour. We got the chance to sit down with Diaz and discuss her film, the art of making a documentary, and what the band thought after seeing the film.
College Movie Review: At what point did you decide to make the film and how long did it take to get all the pieces to come together?
Ramona Diaz: The minute I met Arnel in 2008 when they were rehearsing before embarking on the Revelation Tour, I knew I had to make this film. This story could have been a short film - iconic American rock band finds lead singer on YouTube - end of story. But because of Arnel - how articulate he is about his internal life, how accessible, and how much the camera loves him - it is a more sweeping film.
[As far as time], we started the process in 2008 and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2012...four and a half years, which is really par for the course.
CMR: Can you talk a little bit about your access to both Arnel and the band? Was there ever a time when you weren't granted an interview or access to particular material?
RD: After negotiating we were given the access we needed. At first they were resistant to me filming them composing a song. But after a while I was able to capture the process in Manila in 2009. The scene [didn't make] the film, but it will be on the DVD.
There are some scenes that, while you're shooting, you feel like you need so badly or the film won't survive. Then you get to the editing room and it's a completely different story. It turns out I didn't use the scene, but it's still a great scene and a privilege to have been allowed to witness and record it.
CMR: At the end of the shoot how many hours of footage did you to pull from?
RD: A lot. We worked in the digital realm so I [don't know hours], but I know how many terabytes of footage [we had] - something like 6-7 TB of HD footage.
CMR: Did that make for a taxing editing process? Were there many storylines left on the cutting room floor?
RD: It took us close to a year to edit. As they say, the first cut will never be as good as the rushes but the final cut should never be as bad as the first cut. The very first cut was very, very long so yes there were very many storylines that we had to cut. But you'll still get to see some of them on the DVD.
CMR: What was the band's initial reaction when they finally got to see the final cut?
RD: They loved it. By the time we screened it for them last year (right before we premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival), I think they had given up on the idea of the film ever being finished. It took us four years. For a band that writes, records and releases an album in six months, this was an eternity.
CMR: The film hits theaters on Friday. What kind of emotions are you feeling now that the public is going to have an opportunity to see it?
RD: So very excited. It's like we're about to share this secret, amazing story and person with everyone. I'm looking forward to finally introducing Arnel Pineda to the rest of the world - the world beyond Journey.