It's one thing to do a news piece on wizard rock — it's quite another to devote your life to documenting it. But that's what 23-year-old twin sisters Megan and Mallory Schuyler of Spokane, Washington, have done with "The Wizard Rockumentary: A Movie About Rocking and Rowling."
For the past two years, Megan and Mallory have been shooting, editing and promoting their 90-minute film, which explores how bands inspired by Harry Potter became an indie-rock movement, even a subculture. "It's one thing to go into a documentary with an agenda or trying to push a certain story," Megan Schuyler said. "But we didn't even know what the story was going to be. Literally, we shot up through the release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' not knowing what the ending would be."
When the sisters started in July 2006, wizard rock was in its infancy. There were only about 30 bands that based their songs on singing from the perspective of characters from the Harry Potter series. Most didn't have enough material to put out an album or play live, let alone tour. One girl, Grace Kendall from the band Snidget, hadn't even admitted to her mother that she had a band at all. Perhaps you really couldn't even call most of them "bands," based on that criteria.
But as the sisters watched, cameras in hand, 30 bands grew to 300 in the space of one year, then nearly doubled over the course of the next. Inspired by Harry and the Potters, the bands started recording albums. Playing shows. Touring. And Grace — who had never performed before — was at Terminus in Chicago in August, dancing her heart out onstage and selling CDs and T-shirts offstage. The sisters knew they were on to something.
"By the time we finished, there were 500 bands," Mallory Schuyler said. "They'd been on MTV. Multiple bands were going on national tours. There were hundreds of CDs released. They'd raised thousands of dollars for charities. I mean, it was just incredible. We couldn't have captured a better story."
Since the release of the DVD, the sisters Schuyler have taken their production on the screening circuit, exhibiting the documentary in more than a dozen states at independent theaters, libraries and Harry Potter conventions (film festivals are next). Said Mallory, "We had people crying at Portus," a Harry Potter symposium in Dallas in July, "telling us, 'This captured my experience perfectly. I can show this to my friends who don't understand!' "
"To share it with the people who are involved and also those who are entirely ignorant of the movement, and to have a similar positive reaction, has just been so rewarding," Megan said. "And it's fun to get the reaction of some of the academics who come to these conventions and things and hear them say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you documented this moment in time from an academic perspective.' That's really neat, because we didn't think about it like that going into it. We just thought it was fun, but it is a revolutionary movement. It's the first time a book has been appreciated to this depth and this breadth of expression."
"You don't see this stuff happening very often," Mallory said. "It is magical."
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