“Chunky Shrapnel was made for the cinema but as both concerts and films are currently outlawed, it feels poetic to release a concert-film digitally right now. Get the loudest speakers you’ve got, turn ‘em up and watch Chunky on the biggest telly you can find. Get heaps of snacks and convert your lounge room into a cinema.” That’s Stu Mackenzie, lead singer of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard about the feature length music documentary following the band’s 2019 tour across Europe and UK.
“We had booked a premiere at the Astor in Melbourne, and secured US and Euro distribution but that was scrapped with the virus,” says the film’s producer Max Coles. “We really wanted to premiere on a big screen, but came to see that desire quickly trumped by needing to get the film out to a lot of anxious and bored homebound people ASAP. We were getting thousands of messages asking for an online release after the premiere event was pulled. So, we’ve made a quick pivot to self distribute and make it available to rent for 24 hours only on April 17 – the closest we could get to a real theatrical experience.”
According to Chunky Shrapnel director John Angus Stewart, “… there is a certain amount of mediocrity and self-congratulatory behaviour around a band making a “behind the scenes” tour film. It rarely feels like the filmmakers are friends with the band or even understand them in any type of articulate or insightful way. Gizzard were always hesitant about making a live film because of these reasons. They didn’t see the point in it unless it was offering something new and fresh. In the end, this is why we decided to set a few guidelines before starting out. The first was to keep the band at somewhat of an arm’s length, it was important for the film to be about their music and not necessarily about the everyday minutia of their lives and opinions. We wanted to put you in the room with them and let you observe as you would anyone else, and not resort to “big brother”, diary style talking head interviews. The second was the technical approach, to shoot songs in single takes on 16mm motion picture film. The reason being, we wanted to abandon the cookie cutter approach of using multiple cameras set up in the obvious places and coldly cut between them – so, no cutting during songs. And finally, we wanted to shoot it on stage, literally constantly moving around each member to the point of being in the way (which happened multiple times).
“The results exceeded our expectations, the band felt it was the most accurate version of live music photography they had ever seen. It clearly depicts the excitement, the nerves and the extreme disorientation of being onstage. Playing at the energy level that they do, it’s really something to see. We wanted it to make you feel something and take you somewhere, be a trip, not just an offering. Stu and I worked back and forth finishing the film, passing song choices, musical ideas, edit notes and tonal shifts. It would have been almost impossible if we didn’t share a studio or either of us had regular sleep patterns. Stu’s score elevates our contention and really turns it into voyage. We wanted it to feel like Gizzard’s Fantasia.”