Sad Vacation

The first time Sad Vacation crossed my radar was in early 2014, when I caught a teaser trailer on YouTube. Not a fancy affair by any means, the documentary had an interesting angle in that it was to be shot entirely using cell phones. In April, I interviewed the director, Danny Garcia, and he informed me that the reasons for making Sad Vacation were because he had accumulated a number of Sid and Nancy anecdotes while working on his previous film, Looking for Johnny. He also told me that the phone idea had since been abandoned in favour of a full production. I published the interview later that day, and didn't hear a great deal about it until the following year when portions of our conversation was re-posted in an article at the popular music website, Louder Than War.

Work was progressing slowly due to financial constraints, and I began to wonder if it was ever going to happen. By this time, I already made a small name for myself as "Sid Expert" through managing LOVE KILLS, and, while discussing Nancy's murder on the affiliated Facebook page, I got chatting with seventies NYC scenester, Phyllis Stein. She sent me a private message saying how impressed she was with my knowledge, and that maybe I should talk to Danny about helping out. It seemed almost instantaneously when he messaged me, asking if I would like to be interviewed. Without even thinking about it, I typed "yes" and that was that.

Although the initial agreement was to be filmed, I found my role off-camera at Sad Vacation expanding rather quickly, and Danny tasked me with casting Sid and Nancy for some reenactment scenes he had in mind. In my mind, however, there was only one person who could play Sid: Conor Hussey of the The Sex Pistols Experience. Despite the fact that I'm not fond of tribute bands, Conor really does bear more than a passing resemblance to Sid. Casting Nancy was not so easy; with the search drifting as far afield as Russia to hire our leading lady. In the end, I contacted my cohort Clair Hart and told her she had the job if she wanted it. I'm pretty certain she typed "yes" without thinking, too!

I met Danny in April 2016, and we clicked right off the bat. Two years after interviewing him for my website, he was now interviewing me. The whole session was shot at the house of Sid's flatmate, Den Browne, in Richmond, and I answered questions for an hour or so. I stayed at Den's for a hazy evening, with both of us talking about Sid and Nancy until the late hours. The next day, Danny asked me to help shoot the reenactments with Conor and Clair; which was a blast. Taking an obligatory LOVE KILLS tour in our stride, I even found myself co-directing shots at Maida Vale, Oxford Street and Soho.

Watching this kid all dressed up, staggering around and ruffling his hair, hit me like a tonne of bricks, and I came to the sudden realisation that all my hard work had paid off: I was in the middle of London making a film about my idol! Danny returned to Barcelona the following week, and we resumed our friendship online. He kept me connected to the filmmaking process; inviting me to view the workprint during various stages of creation. Danny would message me late at night: "Hey, man. Is it true that xxx happened at xxx?" The more we communicated, the more involved I got. I was hired as a consultant and photo researcher, and gave a lot of my time and resources to the project. Because of this, I was put on the production credit block.

My final duty was rewriting parts of the main narrative; of which I later learned that the great Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin' Criminals) would be reciting onscreen. At roughly the same time, we dropped the official trailer, an early theatrical poster, and some production blurbs, and all were met with renewed anticipation for the movie. The cast list is highly impressive, giving the level of investigation a far deeper edge than previous cinematic efforts. While viewing footage of myself is not particularly enjoyable to me, I was excited to see that one of my anecdotes had made the trailer.

The documentary was finally completed in August 2016, on the fortieth anniversary of punk rock. Danny sent me a private link to the finished version of Sad Vacation to view at my leisure, so I indulged numerous times. Having analysed the film in great detail, I think its as close as we're ever going to get to solving the events of the Chelsea Hotel. It tidies up a lot of the unnecessary myths and presents a more sobering, but wholly plausible, reality. To say that I'm proud to have my name attached is an understatement, and I feel my book, Vicious White Kid, will be the perfect companion piece for 2017.

Sad Vacation hit select London theaters at the end of the year, with a pre-premiere screening and party held in the bar of Westbank Gallery, Ladbroke Grove, on November 3rd. Three days later, the premiere took place through the Doc' n Roll Festival at Picturehouse Central on Shaftesbury Avenue, which also facilitated a Q&A session with Danny and Brett. The film will continue to run at select theaters in the UK before moving on to American soil. A DVD release is scheduled for December 9th, and will come with a stack of extras including behind-the-scenes footage, music videos, and promo material.

Official Facebook page
Official trailer
Official teaser trailer
Sad Vacation IMDb entry
Love Kills interview with Danny Garcia
Acid Drops interview with Brett Dunford
Punk Globe review

Chip Baker Films; and Richard Mann