The makers of ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ didn’t want a ‘Behind the Music’ type movie

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For those who have read Lizzy Goodman’s “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” the book is an epic oral history spanning 10 years of New York rock music from the early 2000s. The book is unique for its carefully constructed conversations with dozens of voices who have experienced it. So a film adaptation of the book couldn’t be just any old music documentary.

“What we didn’t want to do was make a ‘Behind the Music’ type documentary. We wanted to do something that lives and breathes and makes you feel like you’ve been immersed in that era,” co-director Dylan Southern told TheWrap Sundance Studio. “We just wanted to do something that kept the spirit of the book, because when you read the book, you feel like a live conversation is going on, and with the movie, we had the added benefit of being able to visually knock people into this period, and we didn’t want to break that spell.

“Meet Me in the Bathroom” is constructed entirely from archival material from the era and does not include any talking head interviews or voices of people telling the story who were not actually there. So that means you get remarkable and rare footage of artists like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and TV on the Radio as they were just bursting onto the New York rock scene.

The filmmakers had to do some additional research beyond the lengthy interviews Goodman cobbled together in the book in order to make it something that would be engaging for visual material.

“We definitely watched it and thought, how do we make a movie out of it,” said co-director Will Lovelace.

“We had to find the images that went with those stories or told new stories, and that involved new detective work,” Southern added. “We had LCD Soundsystem’s first show right at the 11th hour.”

The two directors found footage by going through old message boards, talking to journalists who had untapped caches of undeveloped audio or film, and throughout the coronavirus pandemic they managed to amass a rich archive of material that became “Meet Me in the Bathroom”.

“COVID has really helped us weirdly. We were going to come to New York and film a few bits first, but COVID allowed us to make it 100% archive,” Southern said. “It also meant a lot of people were stuck in their homes and ready to go up to their attics. They were much more willing to be given a task than if their normal life continued. I’m not saying thank God for COVID or anything.

Meet Me In The Bathroom Sundance 2022 (SOLD OUT)

When Goodman started writing “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” she had no idea it might ever become a movie, or even if anyone would care about that era of music. She also faced challenges in the form of being able to tell her story visually or actually experience what fans of her book enjoyed while reading it. So being able to sit down and let other professionals tell his story for a different medium turned out to be a “total fantasy” that captures the essential parts of the book “in a much more complete way than I ever could. could have hoped for”.

“In a way, the whole story of ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ kind of eluded me in terms of the actual emotional impact. The joy that people felt, which is incredible, in reading it i never got that i never got that oh my god it’s our time i never got that feeling of coming back until we started working on that,” Goodman said. “I feel like I actually understand that I was part of something really beautiful and meaningful, and I got to experience the onlooker side of that.”

Listen to more of Lizzy Goodman, Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace discussing “Meet Me in the Bathroom” at Sundance above.

TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is presented by NFP and National Geographic Documentary Films.

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