DOCUMENTARY TELLS DARK STORY OF ’70S BAND THE RUNAWAYS:
September 3, 2004
NEW YORK (Billboard) – Child exploitation, band infighting and broken dreams are all explored in the documentary “Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways.”
Much has been said about pioneering all-female rock band the Runaways, but “Edgeplay” is the first time the group’s story, told from the perspective of former members, has been caught on film.
“Edgeplay” has screened at several festivals this year, including the London Film Festival and the Don’t Knock the Rock Film & Music Festival in Los Angeles. There are no theatrical release plans for “Edgeplay,” but Image Entertainment will release the movie on DVD in January.
“This was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” says director/writer/producer/editor Victory Tischler-Blue, also known as Vicki Blue, the name she used as a bass player in the Runaways. “I felt I needed to protect my bandmates but also hold people accountable for their actions.”
“Edgeplay” is Tischler-Blue’s feature directorial debut, and it takes an unflinching look at the dark side of the music business. The movie candidly tells the Runaways’ story from the band’s 1975 origins to 1979 breakup, as well as charting its members’ post-breakup experiences.
During their heyday, the Runaways were teenagers, and their music often was marketed as “jailbait rock.” “Edgeplay” chillingly details the band members’ experiences of exploitation and abuse — and the long-term effects.
“This is a heavy, dark film,” Tischler-Blue says. “Each girl’s story is different. But Sandy West’s story is probably the toughest out of all of them. People seem to react to her story the most because it’s so raw and heartfelt.”
“Edgeplay” is from Tischler-Blue’s production company, Sacred Dogs Entertainment, whose upcoming projects include two Suzi Quatro films: documentary “Naked Under Leather” and concert DVD “Leather Forever.”
Jackie Fuchs, also known as former Runaways bassist Jackie Fox, was an executive producer of “Edgeplay,” along with Dwina Murphy-Gibb (wife of the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb) and P. Arden Brotman.
Fuchs says, “Vicki’s choices for this film probably aren’t what other people in the band may have made. Vicki joined the band at a very dark time. She didn’t get to experience the times that were more fun.”
Although former Runaways members Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, West, Kari Krome and Fox all agreed to be interviewed for the movie, the most famous ex-member, Joan Jett, refused to take part.
Tischler-Blue says, “It was disappointing that Joan chose not to participate, but she typically hasn’t liked talking about the Runaways in interviews.”
Jett, who co-wrote most of the Runaways’ songs, also did not grant permission to use the band’s music in the film. As a result, the Runaways performance footage in the movie shows them playing only covers.
Fortunately, the “Edgeplay” companion album (released Aug. 24 on Hip-O Records/UMG Soundtracks) consists mostly of Runaways music, including “Cherry Bomb,” “Hollywood” and live versions of “Secrets” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Fuchs and Tischler-Blue executive-produced the set.
The album also includes previously unreleased tracks from Ford and Quatro, who appears in the film.
Fuchs is now an entertainment attorney, and she says the Runaways’ bad experiences in the music business probably influenced her decision to become a lawyer.
Kim Fowley, the notorious former manager of the Runaways, “treated us badly,” Fuchs says, “but I think all of us were a little bit damaged before we joined the Runaways.”
Tischler-Blue adds, “Kim Fowley wasn’t the only villain. There were a lot of people who took advantage of us.” Fowley could not be reached for comment.
The director says her goal with “Edgeplay” is “to tell the real story of this band and to get the message across that it’s so important for kids to have a solid foundation.
“It took me six years to do this film,” Tischler-Blue says. “There were so many times I wanted to give up, but I persevered and I’m grateful to all the people who encouraged me to keep going.”
Carla Hay courtesy of Billboard