Gabriel DeLoach and Zach Keifer Interview


Filmmakers Gabriel DeLoach and Zach Keifer will attend the screening of their vibrant punk rock documentary “If We Shout Loud Enough” at the Fargo Film Festival on Friday, March 7 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.


High Plains Reader film editor Greg Carlson talked to Gabriel and Zach about their movie.



GC: How did you become acquainted with Double Dagger?

Gabriel: I knew Bruce (bass) and Nolen (vocals) from when we all attended the Maryland Institute College of Art. Years later, around the time they released “Luxury Condos for the Poor,” I decided to look them up and reconnect. That’s when I discovered their page doubledaggersucks.

By 2011 I was familiar with the band’s explosive stage performance and, if anything, knew that nothing like it would come our way for a long, long time. I casually suggested to Bruce that they get someone to document their final tour and that someone turned out to be me. Then at some point Zach and I decided there was way more meat on the bone to pick, and so we made a feature.

Zach: I had no awareness of either the band or even the whole DIY music scene before starting the documentary. My first introduction to their music was not until we filmed Double Dagger’s final performance in Baltimore.  So for me, it wasn’t the music so much as the visual experience of seeing them perform live and their interaction with the audience that got me so excited to put the documentary together.


GC: How many months did you spend collecting footage and then editing?

Gabe: The tour lasted two weeks in October of 2011 and then we did a lot of filming in Baltimore over the course of a year and continued to write and film more scenes right up until a week before we went to picture lock.

In December 2012 we hadn’t even started editing when Thrill Jockey decided they wanted to release the film with a limited pressing of Double Dagger’s final album “333” for Record Store Day. So that gave us about 3 months to do all of the work, which meant for us very little sleep or time to work on other projects.

Zach tackled the bulk of the editing and structure while I spliced together the performance sections and animated the title sequence. We were still editing the day we had to turn in the master.

Zach: We couldn’t afford to drop everything and drive the 3.5 hours up to Baltimore at the drop of a hat, so we had to schedule and plan specific trips.  Sometimes I would edit a section of the film and then realize we needed another interview or something else to go with it and I would just work around that hole until a trip up to Baltimore could be planned. It was a constant balance of working with the footage we had and planning out the footage we had to get.


GC: Bruce and Nolen in their capacity as Post Typography contributed the title design and you did the animation. How did the opening credit sequence collaboration work? Did you disagree about anything?

Gabe: It was a concept that evolved over time. We expressed the general idea to Bruce and Nolen, gave them stills from the opening sequence we knew we wanted to transition from, and asked them to make the fliers.

I think it was a little difficult for them to picture what we had in mind since we couldn’t easily storyboard it. We went back and forth a lot, asking them to incorporate more elements for us to animate so that it felt like a complete transformation and them rejecting our ideas or improving upon them.

Zach: The trick was balancing what we needed for the animation while still allowing Bruce and Nolen to design the fliers with their style and sensibilities. In the end, the fliers probably do look a bit different from how the guys would have designed them naturally back in the day.

However, I think the most important part being the process of creating those fliers comes across beautifully. Honestly, if we could have kept putting more art by those guys into the film we would have done it.


GC: How did you finance the project?

Gabe: Thrill Jockey covered the DVD printing fees. The band covered my expenses during the tour and helped us cover the cost of HDD storage. But this was a labor of love and we invested our own sweat equity into the film. It is the second film I have self-financed and really hope it is the last.

Zach: Thankfully, we either owned or built most of the equipment that we needed. We try to subscribe to a DIY way of filmmaking that led Gabe to building a jib, a dolly, and multiple shoulder rigs (out of wood) for the cameras.

Additionally, the crew for this project was micro.  Gabe filmed the entire tour by himself and any subsequent interviews were filmed with just one other crew person for audio.  We also have to give thanks to Bruce and Nolen for giving us a place to crash while on our many visits to Baltimore.

All of this adds up to a relatively low production cost for a feature documentary, which was key considering there was no budget.


GC: Gabe, you are a director who also serves as the principal photographer. What kind of cameras and lenses did you use?

Gabe: I decided on using a DSLR because I needed to be as compact as possible for the performances and in case anything broke, it wouldn’t cost a fortune to fix. During the show at Treasure Town in Chicago, one of the liveliest, my lens was knocked off the camera mount while I was being tossed around and it smashed on the concrete.

The focus ring was broken and locked in position, and the glass had a huge chip near the center. I didn’t waste any time thinking about it. I had to film the rest of the show with a broken lens. We stuck with the DSLR for the rest of the film for two reasons: consistency and lack of budget. Lenses varied between Canon L and a couple old Nikkors.


GC: You have spent a lot of time documenting megafauna – awesome word by the way – including big cats and one-horned rhinos. If the members of Double Dagger were animals, what creatures would you choose to represent each member?

Gabe & Zach: Nolen would probably be a porcupine. Bruce would be a lemur or possibly a kangaroo, and Denny would be a honey badger.


GC: One of the best things about “If We Shout Loud Enough” is that you include many songs in their entirety, giving the viewer a complete experience of something that is very difficult to replicate without being there. Can you talk a little bit about that decision and how you chose to record and sequence the songs?

Gabe: I watched a lot of music docs before going on tour with Double Dagger and realized I couldn’t or didn’t want to make anything like what I was seeing, especially how you never get to see your favorite songs play out on screen.

Since we didn’t have a story fed by obligatory band drama, nor did we want a talking head film or to focus on the break up, there was all of this room to do something fun and different. Because performing was what Double Dagger did best it seemed appropriate that we dedicated a large portion of the film to entire songs.

We picked songs we personally loved and what we thought would offer a diverse catalog for those unfamiliar with the band. And of course we had to end the film with Double Dagger’s Baltimore anthem, “Luxury Condos for the Poor,” the last song of their final show.

Zach: The thing about Double Dagger is that the audience plays such an important role in the performance, and it might be cheesy to say, but the audience is like the band’s fourth member. We wanted to make sure there was enough time to showcase the character of all the different audiences.

Another big reason is that the lyrics of the songs help to tell the story better than any talking head.  We made sure to showcase certain venues and position specific songs that really captured the growth of the band.


GC: How did you settle on the audio when the visuals came from multiple shows? Did you ever stitch together audio from more than one performance?

Gabe: Most of the recordings came from the final show in Baltimore. It was the best recording and the band was in rare form. One recording came from the first show at Charm City (“Camera Chimera”) and another from Cleveland (“Sleeping with the TV On”) where you can tell Nolen’s voice was a little hoarse.

It was a challenge to get the footage from multiple shows to line up since the band often played the same song at slightly different tempos, but I think you can rarely, if ever, tell.

The most difficult task was trying to remember what I filmed the night before so I didn’t repeat shots. I guess I could have looked at my footage but I was either too exhausted or it was my turn to drive the van.

Zach: For “The Psychic,” we did end up doing a little bit of stitching because the shredding that Bruce does on the bass actually happened at a different show from the audio source that we used.

It was definitely a challenge because every show was different, but I think at the same time that is what allowed the performances to work as well as they did.  As a result of Gabe being a one-man crew, it was difficult for him to get a lot of good audio at the different venues.  So honestly, a big part of settling on the audio was because we only had one or two good options to use.


GC: You collected more than 100 hours of raw footage. How long was the first cut of the movie? What scene did you have to take out that you wanted to keep?

Zach: Post-production was interesting because we were still in the process of filming the documentary. Because of this, the documentary was sectioned off into different categories and built piece by piece.

Due to the fact that we were filming up to within a week of our deadline, I am pretty sure that there only ever was one cut of the entire film pieced together. During the process, there were a few things we moved away from just because the project would keep evolving.

The first edit I completed involved cutting several fan stories together over top the instrumental part of “Sleeping with the TV On.”  As things moved on, we realized that we wanted to avoid talking head fans and just let their presence at the live performances speak for itself.

It was definitely tough cutting out a lot of the fan interviews, but I think that process really helped push the documentary in a new direction that ultimately worked.


GC: “If We Shout Loud Enough” vibrates with that bittersweet pain that goes along with capturing a final farewell. What was going through your mind at the Ottobar the night of 10/21/11?

Gabe: I can’t say I experienced that show like any other Double Dagger fan tossed in the throes of a sweaty, pulsing audience. I wish I could but I had a job to do and so much of my brainpower was dedicated to making sure I was making all of the right decisions as a photographer.

Unlike the rest of the tour this show was riddled with portent and I wanted nothing more than to try and capture that. I think in some ways I did, especially with “Luxury Condos,” but how could it ever be like experiencing the real thing?

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