The sprawling suburbia of Milton Keynes, England — with its rows of track houses and shopping centers — has always been a bit of a joke amongst people in the U.K. (sample dig: “What’s the difference between yogurt and Milton Keynes? Yogurt has culture”). Back in 1967, the Ministry of Housing and Local Governments set aside 22,000 acres to build Keynes, a “model city” designed to accommodate the overflow of population from London, about an hour and a half south of the metropolis. And ever since then, it has been seen as a cultural wasteland, a second-class city made of concrete and asphalt.
Kind of like most manufactured communities in the U.S.
So you can understand why Green Day chose to go there for two nights of sold-out shows at the 65,000-seat National Bowl and film a documentary with director Samuel Bayer. After all, Milton Keynes could very well be the setting for a British version of American Idiot — the band’s Grammy-winning, triple-platinum, suburbs-as-hell rock opus (see “Road To The Grammys: The Making Of Green Day’s American Idiot” ).
According to a spokesperson for Ridley Scott Associates — the production company heading up the shoot, which is run by the director of “Gladiator,” “Blade Runner” and “Thelma & Louise” — the documentary, which bears the working title “Green Day Live at Milton Keynes,” trails the bandmembers from the minute they land in London, following them around the city as they visit various pubs and discuss the making and meaning of Idiot, along with more informal footage.
Saturday and Sunday’s shows at the National Bowl — also featuring Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World — are the biggest Green Day have ever played in the U.K., so they will also play a major role in the film. Bayer’s crew will capture backstage material and onstage performances from both nights of shows.
But RSA is hoping “Live at Milton Keynes” will be more than just a concert film. The company is asking citizens of Milton Keynes and fans attending the shows to contribute photographs and videotapes of themselves discussing just what Green Day’s music means to them. Some of the submissions will make the final version of the film. Material can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Green Day Live at Milton Keynes” is tentatively scheduled to be available on DVD later this year. As for Green Day themselves, they’ve got a few weeks of European festivals lined up (and a month of vacation, too) before playing a string of stadium gigs around the U.S. And the video for their new single, “When September Ends” — which they shot after returning from an Asian tour in March — should be hitting airwaves soon (see “It’s A Dark Day For Green Day In Somber ’September’ Video” ).
For more on American Idiot, check out the feature “Green Day: Anatomy Of A Punk Opera.”