From The Vault: American Hardcore (2006)

American Hardcore is a 2006 documentary released by Sony Pictures Classics based on the book “American Hardcore: A Tribal History” and chronicle’s the birth and evolution of hardcore punk rock from 1978 to 1986.

Paul Rachman directed this acclaimed documentary and is one of our favorite directors to work with.  American Hardcore goes back to Rachman’s music video roots (Bad Brains, The Replacements) and showcases his immense background and knowledge of the subject. Rachman has been an active player in the independent filmmaking world – writing, directing and producing innovative films, along with co-founding the popular film festival “Slamdance” in 1995.

We had the chance to pick Paul’s brain about the trailer creation process and his latest ventures.  Click below for the full interview.


Wheelhouse: Tell us about the process of making the American Hardcore trailer. 

Paul Rachman: The American Hardcore trailer is fucking great. Wheelhouse did a great job.  A lot of people saw the trailer and Sony Picture Classics really worked it all over the place.  It made you feel like seeing the movie.  I remember us working together on the edits with SPC and  Wheelhouse so I had input on where we were headed.

WH: Now, a few years removed from the release, do you look at the trailer any differently?

PR: It still works well as representative of the film and it’s story today. I think the single most important thing a trailer has to do is actually make people want to go to see this movie. Like ” I GOTTA SEE THAT” after the trailer plays. I think the American Hardcore trailer did that. It was explosive sounding, raw and in your face and you wanted to know more, far more from Henry Rollins, Ian McKaye and company….

WH: A lot of directors find it challenging to watch their film go through the Cuisinart during the trailer process. Do you have any advice for them?

PR: Well, I understand that. But by the time you’re making the trailer, you really need a new set of eyes sometimes, so good things can come out of that. It really depends on the film and the vision for the film. If the filmmaker and distributor are on the same page it usually works out.  My input was always taken into consideration and we fixed some things I didn’t like. SPC was happy, so it all worked out.

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The American Hardcore trailer is a favorite amidst the Wheelhouse staff too –

Jaclyn (Hardcore Aficionado): This is one of my personal Wheelhouse favorites!  It has great style, killer sounds, and presents a concise, effective portrait of the hardcore punk attitude & spirit that has seduced many for generations.  Whether you’re still an active fan or not–and whether you’ve seen the movie or not–this trailer will definitely strike a chord, get your inner teenage blood boiling, and make you want to go “Wild in the Streets!” (running! running!)

Jeremy: This one was a crazy blast to work on. Paul made a really indelible and essential documentary and we were so excited when Sony Classics sent it our way.  We treated the trailer like it was a hardcore song: loud, fast, intense, aggressive, in your face, a little unpredictable.  None of those traditional mainstream trailer things like graphic copy or music stops. I love how it uses all this  different footage and different material — just like the movie. We just threw it all in there and just tried to make the trailer explode off the screen (and crash your computer if you’re gonna watch it on the internet). The critic quote graphics in the trailer are so good too. They were made by the film’s graphic animator and they just feel so fresh and energetic, while also embodying that hardcore xerox art aesthetic  Also, those big map graphics were made specifically for the trailer. It’s a good one.

American Hardcore is available for purchase on DVD via Amazon.  Paul’s newest documentary, Lost Rockers, is currently in post-production and will focus on “eight artists across genres who never got their due.”