For "Breaking a Monster," filmmaker Luke Meyer gets some ridiculous access to Brooklyn-based heavy metal band Unlocking the Truth as the middle school-age members go from Times Square buskers to YouTube sensations to signing a massive recording contract with Sony and playing Coachella. We talk to Meyer about seeing their meteoric rise from the inside.
How did you get attached to the group so early to get this kind of access?
I was asked to make a short documentary about them for an online video magazine. We did some pre-interviewing with them and then I shot with them for a weekend. Then that video did remarkably well on the Internet. It was the most viral thing that I've ever made. Over a million people watched it the first month it was up online. After all that happened, the band took on Alan Sacks as their manager and things began to move a lot quicker for them, and in that process they started talking about doing a documentary about the signing of the contract and the beginning of everything, and the band and the parents liked working with us. We just had to make sure that we weren't being asked to make a promotional doc for the band, that we were making something that could stand alone as a piece of nonfiction cinema. And once we were able to be sure about that, we were totally on board with making it. This was a really incredibly interesting moment for these guys.
How do you walk that balance to remain an impartial observer and not come off as either judgmental or promotional?
It's a decision, really. It's sort of how I make films anyway, but it's not a sort of ongoing process once you know that's the sort of film you're making. You dig into that decision and stick with it. There are some interviews throughout it, but outside of that the whole thing is shot in a very direct cinema, cinema verite style. I mixed that with this constant awareness of looking for an overall, more traditionally shaped narrative that I really felt convinced was going to evolve in the first breakout year of this band — and it more or less did.