Written by Joel Gordon
Can you think of the most intimate and love-filled relationship in your life? Have you ever lived through the brokenness or beauty of a love story?
Filmmakers, Scott Mayo, Trey Hill and Sam Ditore recently shared with Love Is Moving about the process of making the movie, LOUD KRAZY LOVE. It’s an 88-minute documentary produced by the filmmaking team of Ditore Mayo Entertainment and John Humphrey from I Am Second Films. They first worked together in 2008 on a White Chair film featuring Brian Welch from the metal band, Korn. That sparked the idea for LOUD KRAZY LOVE.
Producer, Sam Ditore describes the movie as a “mainstream movie with a faith component, versus a faith-based film.” In the United States it’s rated TV-MA and in Canada it has an 18+ rating for language and mature themes.
“A love story sits at the center of Brian’s drug-addled rock and roll existence.”, says co-director, Trey Hill. He’s right about that in a big way. But this film isn’t your typical love story. It also gets an R rating for raw, refreshing and riveting in its subject matter and storytelling style. It’s not often that a documentary can pierce its way into the heart of a story and then consistently pulse with intimacy, authenticity and passion.
Feeling for the pulse of the story through the many layers of relationships wasn’t an easy process. The film took over five years to make with two different versions being produced. Sam continues, “We’d been living with an amazing 132 minute edit with interwoven timelines and a broader story arc for nearly a year.”
The first 2+ hour cut of the film included a few story veins. It explored Brian’s estranged relationship with band members after leaving Korn, his budding relationship with God, and his journey with his parents and his daughter, Jennea.
Scott Mayo, who served as co-director, writer and editor on the film explained that while refining the story, “It became very clear that they were not documenting a story that had occurred, we weren’t retelling history, this was a slice of life that we were living inside of.”
When Brian left Korn, it was an act of love for his daughter Jennea, but that act of love wasn’t enough on its own to restore this father-daughter relationship. Brian Welch is very open and honest in this movie about his faith, his struggle with addiction and his flaws as a father. Scott shared on the phone that, “as transparent as Brian was, there was a part of his life that he was trying to figure out”.
Co-director, Trey Hill described one of his early encounters with Brian, “After we’d finished our little pre-production meeting, he (Brian) practiced his guitar, fiddled with his hair and I just started asking him questions. His candidness in that interview, while laying on his bed, was startling. I think that’s when I knew he and I had each other’s trust.” Establishing trust between the filmmakers and their subjects can make or break a documentary. When trust is established authentically, people open up on camera and invite storytellers into intimate conversations and unseen places.
The film was initially centered around the forces that drove Brian to leave Korn, but after an intimate interview with Brian’s parents, Phil and Maryellen, when they shared about some life-threatening issues facing Jennea, there was a light-bulb moment. This was a turning point in the process of making the film. Trey, one of the directors shared his account of the event, “I’d always thought of Brian as the center of the story – his transformation as the rock in the pond rippling out… but listening to Phil & Maryellen talk, it hit me that Jennea was at the center of the story. That she and Brian were almost dual protagonists.”
Sam continued, “In the process of making the film we discovered that the heart of the story was his relationship with Jennea, but we were still trying to include it all at that point. People loved that version of the film, but the consistent refrain was ‘Can we have more Jennea?’ Having more Jennea meant less emphasis on the band and the film started to take on a new direction. They were no longer telling Brian’s story, they were telling Brian and Jennea’s story.
In order to follow the strongest vein to the heart of the story, the team decided to rebuild the film from the ground up. They focused on Brian’s relentless love for his daughter, Jennea. Brian allowed the filmmakers into many intimate spaces in his life. God’s love for a broken man and Brian’s honest, passionate, yet flawed love for his daughter, Jennea saturate every frame of this movie.
During the filmmaking process, the filmmakers not only honed in on Brian’s most compelling relationship, but they also grew in their relationships with each other. Trey warmly shares that, “Scott, my co-director, and I formed a deep, deep friendship over the six years since we started making this movie together. We have learned to bear one another – to suffer with and for one another. Because I made this movie, I’m a better friend, not just a filmmaker.”
Documentary filmmakers often discover insights about themselves as they explore the lives of others. Trey shared that, “Making this film has taught me that my value is not in the work I produce, but in the person I am. I think the greatest impact this film has had on my life has come by way of the relationships that have seen me through the process of making the film.”
This process didn’t come without it challenges. The filmmakers made sacrifices with their own families while creating the movie. Out of town shoots, weekends spent editing, along with meetings and screenings pulled the filmmakers away from their families. The documentary seemed to stall at various times over a five to six year period, but they persevered knowing that telling Brian’s story was a gift from God that they wanted to steward well. Reaching a wide mainstream audience is part of how they feel they can be faithful stewards. And, that’s the reason they decided to distribute the film through Showtime. Canadians can access the movie through Crave or by requesting to host a screening.
Co-director, Trey Hill genuinely hopes that, “anyone who happens upon this movie will see a piece of themselves in its characters. If I could go out and hand pick an audience, I think I’d pick a room full of folks that are right in the middle of something painful. There’s a wonderful thing that happens when you’re hurting and invited into a conversation about the things that lead to pain, especially the kind of pain that cements destructive habits. I think this film is the start of a great conversation for people like that.”
Producer, Sam Ditore hopes that viewers will be impacted by discovering that, “fearless love heals broken relationships. This movie is all about restored relationships – Brian and Jennea, Brian and the band, Brian and his parents, Brian and God. I think the most universally relatable aspect of the movie is Brian’s desire to be a good dad despite all his faults.” He closes by sharing that, “I think witnessing this story will give people hope. Personally, I think choosing God’s love through Jesus is the key to all of it, but I’m quite happy to let audiences determine that for themselves.”