The Independents combines heart & great music
Actor Greg Naughton makes his directorial debut in RGB Films, The Independents. The film opens with Rich (Rich Price) writing a song before heading to his teaching job. Walking to work, it somewhat appears that Rich is a walking calamity. Instead, Greg Naughton's script quickly reveals that Rich is just passionate about music.
After an almost near-fatal accident where tree trimmer Greg (Greg Naughton) almost drops a tree branch on him, Rich returns home to practice. Ironically, Greg actually lives across the hall from Rich, and the two end up having an impromptu jam session. Realizing they are kindred musical spirits, they begin to write songs together and, on a whim, decide to head to a music festival in Ohio.
As fate would have it, while heading to the music festival, they pick up hitchhiker Brian (Brian Chartrand), who is also a musician. Naturally, the trio forms a band they dub RGB and begin to pursue musical stardom. Along the way, they hit all of the usual musical film plot templates, but Greg Naughton's script and how he handles it is rather commendable. In one of the film's best scenes, the band plays a club and meets a Los Angeles-based record promoter, James (Richard Kind), who offers them fame. What I loved about this particular scene is it shows us the dangers of the music industry.
The three men who make up RGB are actually a real-life band known as The Sweet Remains, so the chemistry we see play out on screen is natural. All of the film's music scenes are authentic, and the actors are doing all of the singing and playing. I want to let viewers know the movie isn't a nepotism-filled vanity piece. While the characters share the same name as their real-life counterparts, it comes off as organic. Director Greg Naughton has crafted a narrative film with a documentary vibe. I firmly believe any struggling musician can relate to it and knows just how hard it is to make your dreams come true.
The Independents features more than one montage. The use of the music and its correlation to the scene kept a smile on my face. While I have little expertise in the music featured in the film, I did find myself tapping my feet to the numerous tracks heard in the movie. I also want to give credit to cinematographer Piero Basso and how he displays shots of New York and Los Angles. I also loved the cameos in the film. Tony winners James Naughton & Kelli O'Hara show up, as well as Cheers alum George Wendt and Chris Sullivan, who portrays Toby on the NBC hit This Is Us.
When the credits rolled on the film, I was reminded of the Curtis Mayfield quote, "Remember your dream is your only scheme, so keep on pushing." At its core, The Independents is more about the strength of friendship and living out your dreams by any means necessary. And for that alone, I recommend the film.
Final Grade: B+
The Independents opens in limited theaters and virtual cinemas on February 26.