A HARD ROW TO HOE, 30min., Germany, Documentary
Directed by Lucas Fiederling
Dege Legg, aka Brother Dege is 'Louisianas best kept secret'. The writer, musician and working man has been living the dream of freedom, traveling the southlands for decades. His music has made it on international television and his hit ‚Too old to die young‘ was handpicked by Quentin Tarantino for the ‚Django Unchained‘ soundtrack. Still, the commercial success never fully happened. To this day he’s running his own label, booking his bands tours around the globe and takes on day-jobs whenever the bank is low. Will he be able to make his unique and deep version of delta blues for the world and keep touring with his band, or will he have to cope for a more normal life to make his ends meet for himself and his family?
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
When I first watched 'Django Unchained' I was in a cinema in Capetown, South Africa and aside me, my then girlfriend and my homie the whole audience was black. Because of the slavery + revenge topic of the movie, the energy in the room was very explosive. When Brother Dege's song 'Too old to die young' came on in the soundtrack, whole rows of people jumped up in front of us, dancing and shouting to this song they had probably never heard before. I was very captivated by the music since then, and wasn't surprised to find myself loving all of his albums.
Fast forward a couple years and I'm putting together a soundtrack for a different film, and reached out to an email adress I found on Brother Dege. I didn't really expect an answer or to be able to afford the rights to the song I wanted to use - but to my surprise Dege Legg himself answered me and we ended up making a deal that I could use the song for free if I in return would film one of his shows on his upcoming tour.
We became friends, and I quickly wanted to learn more about him, he is one of my favorite musicians at this point. Also myself growing up on the road and later touring the world as a skateboarder and filmmaker, I realized we faced similar problems in our lives. So I decided to join him on a tour and just began filming.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Since I wasn't getting paid from anywhere to do this, we took long breaks in between the filming. I have a production company I'm running, so I wasn't always able to free time for the documentary. I also liked the idea to let him as a person and artist make some progress and changes during the filming process, hoping to get a more intimate and honest story. So all in all we began filming in 2016, and finished in 2020. Then it took a while to find the right editor, and we lost some extra time due to the pandemic. Finally we had a finished version in late 2022.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Probably the distance. Me living in Berlin and Dege living in New Orleans definately created a few challenges, especially combined with a global pandemic. And of course, the missing budget.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was great to get feedback from people completely unrelated to the film or us. Since we didn't do a screening or premiere yet, it was a wonderful and motivating first glimpse into the reactions and what the film creates in the audience.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Ay.. when I was 5 or 6 years old I started being in love with it. We didnt have a tv, but my dad bought my mum a little hi-8 camcorder which quickly turned into my favorite toy on the farm where I grew up. Of course I only realized its a way to make money in my early teen years and finally through skateboarding, which is what I come from and shot throughout the majority of my 20s.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably Pulp Fiction. Then again I was on a holiday on hawaii with my parents whom were skydivers, and we were at this little skydiving place and I was probably the only one out there who would spent a big chunk of the beautiful summer there watching movies on the one tv set they had there. Unfortunately it also only had 2 VHS casettes which I watched over and over every day - Aladdin and Power Rangers the Movie.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
As said above, you guys are already doing a wonderful job. Probably one thing I always miss in festivals is also getting some BTS video or photos or at least one photo of for example a room/ cinema with the title of the film or a scene from the screening, in case there is one.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It makes since a lot easier and is very timesaving. Sometimes it could be a bit easier to filter out 'fake' festivals that are just after your money. But generally they are doing a great job.
10. What is your favorite meal?
I have to say that depends where in the world I am. Probably something in direction of mashed sweet potatoe, avocado + chicken.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
We just finished another documentary about German artist 'Kummer' and the end of his solo career which we recently screened at a huge cinema in Berlin. Now I'm trying to keep my production company 'Peregrine Films' running, while slowly but surely trying to shift away from the commercial world and put more focus back into documentaries. Also I want to make narrative feature films sooner than later, so I'm working on wrapping up some of my scripts and finding ways to get into that side of the filmworld.