The Lucy Show 

Documenting the dog

Documenting the dog

On any given visit to Lucy’s Record Shop, you might run into 40-year-old parents in Ramones attire, politicized teenage feminists, dreadlocked bohemians, or celebrities as diverse as They Might Be Giants and Nanci Griffith. Even among these wide-ranging personalities, however, one figure has been more conspicuous than most during the past two years. That’s because she’s been holding a movie camera.

On Nov. 7, 1994, a Vanderbilt student named Stacy Goldate took a Super VHS camcorder to Lucy’s for the first time. At the end of 18 months of filming, Goldate had amassed some 50 hours of interviews, performances and documentary footage. Earlier this year, she set out to edit her two solid days’ worth of footage into coherent form. The result, a documentary entitled Lucy Barks!, will make its world premiere 8 p.m. Thursday night at Lucy’s. A performance by the indescribable garage band/art ensemble The Tony Guides will follow.

“In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing,” admits Goldate, who works part-time as an assistant at the Sinking Creek Film/Video Festival. “I felt really like an outsider at Lucy’s at first. I just thought, I don’t fit in here, I don’t have anything in common. But Lucy’s is all about growing because there’s room for slack—room to develop. [Filming] took so long because I had to grow too.”

For months before filming, Goldate had been intrigued by the Church Street record store and alternative music venue, which is named for the store’s protector and guiding spirit, a gentle weimaraner belonging to owner/manager Mary Mancini. Goldate was particularly fascinated by the store’s mixture of young customers, who fiercely asserted their individuality even as they stood outside Lucy’s in like-minded groups. “They’d say, ‘We’re here for the bands,’ ” Goldate notes, “but they’d hang outside away from the music.”

After checking out video equipment from Vanderbilt, the first thing Goldate, assistant director Mike Letton, and additional cameraman Jim Kim learned was that the camera’s presence alters everything. “I could write an interesting psychology book about the effect the camera had,” says Goldate. Hoping to be noticed, people began to “perform” self-consciously among their friends; when girls hesitated for a moment before speaking, boys jumped in to hog the spotlight. Eventually, though, Goldate and crew became such a steady presence that Lucy’s patrons loosened up.

“The hardest thing is, you can’t make eye contact,” Goldate says. But she found other ways to get good interviews. She learned to focus the camera on one person to discourage camera hogs. She got her subjects to shoot the breeze first, gradually leading them into her main questions. “I kept shooting until I was satiated,” she says.

At the same time, Goldate received a crash course in filming on the cheap. She used equipment gleaned from internships and Vanderbilt connections. “Make your film while you’re doing your internship,” she advises. “Instead of money, get their resources.” As a result, she filmed Lucy Barks! for just a few thousand dollars, which came from family, a Lucy’s fundraiser, and her own pocket. Assistance came from such sources as Film House post-production “savior” Rich Jagen (who helped Goldate edit on his own dime), NFTV publisher Andy Van Roon, and Frothy Shakes drummer Chris Davis, who quizzed Goldate constantly about her knowledge of the milieu.

Lucy’s regulars will observe lots of familiar faces and performers in the finished film, which clocks in at slightly less than 45 minutes. In addition to performances by Lucy’s faves Fun Girls From Mt. Pilot, Crop Circle Hoax and Fecal Matter, among others, the documentary includes interviews with Mary Mancini, House O’ Pain promoter Donnie Kendall, Lambchop members Kurt Wagner (Mancini’s husband) and Scene associate editor Jonathan Marx, and a dissenting voice, a Nashville teen named Byron Kilbourne, who describes why he hates Lucy’s and the people who go there.

Goldate is prepared for the inevitable uproar over bands and interviews that got cut out. “There was a lot I wanted to use that just wouldn’t fit,” she says. Among the footage on the cutting-room floor is an interview with Nashville post-punk hero Jason Ringenberg and a performance by the band Heather.

Nevertheless, Stacy Goldate stands by her work, which she is now submitting to regional film festivals. “It’s a perfect first documentary,” she says, and she encourages anyone who doesn’t like Lucy Barks! to make their own documentary in response. “Anybody can do this,” she says. “If I could stick with this for two years, I can do anything.”

The Sinking Creek Film/Video Festival begins its annual week-long Media Institute of workshops and screenings Monday at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Student Center. Included are courses in screenwriting with scriptwriter Jon Macy; video production with local filmmaker Mark Pleasant; animation taught by Ben Ryan; and a documentary study with Sinking Creek festival director Meryl Truett. Courses cost $35-$95 plus supplies. Evening shows include The Best of Sinking Creek June 20 and a June 21 double feature of two vintage exploitation films by Nashville’s Ormond family, The Monster and the Stripper and Girl From Tobacco Row. For more information about course times and screenings, call 322-4234.

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