Will There Ever Be A 'Definitive' VAN HALEN Documentary? BANGER FILMS' SAM DUNN Would Love To Get A Crack At It

November 29, 2020

Canadian documentarian Sam Dunn of Banger Films says that he would love to make the "definitive" documentary about VAN HALEN.

"VAN HALEN, for me, has always been a bit of a Holy Grail story, particularly the David Lee Roth years, up to '83, '84," Dunn told DEATH ANGEL's Ted Aguilar as part of the "Alive & Streaming" YouTube interview series (see video below). "That run of records is such a phenomenal run, and it happened in such a short period of time.

"I know there's been books written about VAN HALEN, and I know that it would never be an easy film to make, for many reasons," he continued. "And that's fine. And maybe it won't get done. Maybe someone will be blessed with the opportunity to do it one day. But certainly for me, that's one that I would love to do.

"VAN HALEN's place in the canon of rock legends is firmly established. They do not need a documentary to cement that. It would be more about really digging deeper into the story about how that band came together and getting beyond the stock stories that we've heard many, many times over the years. To get the deeper story, to get the more intimate story, to get to understand who initially those four guys were as people, as kids.

"The thing I love about making these films probably more than anything is kind of going back one or two steps further than we know," Sam added. "Like that footage of Alex Lifeson as a teenager [from the RUSH documentary 'Beyond The Lighted Stage'], that's the stuff I wanna know. I wanna know who these musicians were as kids and their family life and their struggles growing up in those early days. That's the stuff I'm really fascinated with, and that's a part of the VAN HALEN story that I don't think — it's there in pieces, it's definitely there, but it's never been put together in any sort of definitive documentary way."

Dunn also reflected on the career and influence of VAN HALEN guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, who passed away last month after a long battle with cancer.

"Eddie, and it's been said many times before — I'm not the first one to say it — he was one of the few people that had made an instrument sound completely different than what it had sounded before," Sam said. "He literally pulled sounds out of that instrument no one had heard. He seemed like an alchemist to me when I heard 'Eruption' and those tones, especially on that first VAN HALEN record. So, for me, as a music fan, that stuff is endlessly fascinating, digging into how people create these sounds. He's one of the greats that transformed it, and they don't come around very often. Eddie was the one that kind of redefined the guitar for me as well; I'm of that generation."

Eddie and his brother Alex Van Halen formed a band called MAMMOTH in Pasadena, California in 1972, then renamed it VAN HALEN when Roth joined the group and, later, bassist Michael Anthony.

VAN HALEN was one of the biggest rock bands in the country in the 1980s, with hits like "Runnin' With The Devil", "Dance The Night Away", "Hot For Teacher", "Panama" and "Jump". The group, which later featured Sammy Hagar on vocals, was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.

Banger Films' previous documentaries include two on heavy metal, 2006's "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" and 2008's "Global Metal", 2010's "Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage", 2009's "Iron Maiden: Flight 666" and 2014's "Super Duper Alice Cooper", as well as the TV documentary miniseries "Metal Evolution".

According to Below The Line, Banger Films has a staff of 40 people, including Dunn's longtime film partner Scot McFadyen, plus a vice-president of production, and staffers in business affairs, development, and post-production.

"It's such a hugely collaborative effort," Dunn told Below The Line about Banger's projects. "We started by doing one feature film at a time. 'Metal Evolution' in 2011 was the first series. For series work, you need that many more bodies to get the job done. Now, typically, [we have] three or four productions going on at once."

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