Behind “Hand of God: the Musical”


[from facebook.com]

“It’s pretty dark, but what else could be expected of a Fall Out Boy musical?”

News of a Fall Out Boy musical in the works had fans of the pop punk band buzzing on social media on February 3. The musical project, created by a group of the band’s fans, has already been compared to “PANIC the Musical”, an upcoming stage play based on songs by Fall Out Boy’s former tourmates, Panic! at the Disco.

So just what is this Fall Out Boy musical? In the words of the screenwriter herself, “Allison is a caring girl who returns to college emotionally frazzled after her long term boyfriend breaks up with her. Like the proverbial new kid in high school, yet set at a university, she falls in with the “wrong crowd”, including a party girl, a tortured artist, and a rebellious playgirl named Jamie, with whom Allison begins to fall in love with.” 

There are a few side plots involving a tortured artist and his over-dependent girlfriend, as well as a nerdy guy and the girl who doesn’t know when the party’s over,” added editor Piper Jones.

Candor News spoke to the fans behind the project – producer and editor Piper Jones, director and writer and Elizabeth Sparrow, and lead actresses Deana Fishel and Sanne Pos – about their upcoming film titled, “Hand of God: the Musical.” Read more about what they had to say under the cut.

Q. To start, tell me a bit about yourselves. 
Piper: I’m Piper Jones. I’m officially listed and the producer and the editor of Hand of God: The Musical. I like science fiction, making movies, Dr. Pepper, and bands. Fall Out Boy has been my favorite band since elementary school. I’m not very interesting.
Elizabeth: My name is Elizabeth, legally my last name is Coffman-Mackey, but I use Sparrow for art projects such as this film to save everyone some writing space. I live in Urbana, Illinois, and I came up with the story, I’m writing the script, and I’m also the director. I’ve been listening to Fall Out Boy basically my whole life because of my friends, but I started actively listening to them about a year into the hiatus. This is the first writing project I’ve had get any sort of notice, and I’m super excited about that.
Sanne: My name’s Sanne, and a little bit about myself is that music and art have been my passion for the majority of my life, and i’m really excited and happy to do something like this with people I love. I love animals and food! I have a weakness for sour gummy worms, sci-fi, Taco Bell, comics and ice cream!
Deana: I’m Deana Fishel, I am a very down to earth person. I try and be friends with everyone that I can. I don’t like the feeling of having enemies. I have some, but try my best not to have any. Music is my getaway in life. Especially Fall Out Boy. I have been a fan of Fall Out Boy for about nine almost ten years now.

[Image from tumblr.com]

Q. Where were you when the news of the hiatus ending broke? What was your initial reaction? (Fall Out Boy’s hiatus ended on February 4, 2013.)
Piper: I was on my way to class after doing some work at my school’s library when one of my friend’s ran up to me and screamed “It’s over”. I nearly started crying I was so happy.
Elizabeth: I was actually in class at the time, but I had heard some pretty solid evidence behind some rumors the night before, so I begged my friend to text me if anything happened. Like, a minute after it happened, she texted me saying they were back, and I just screamed aloud. I was so happy that they were back, I spent most of the rest of the day yelling “Fall Out Boy is back!” to everyone that would listen, so now I’m known as “that Fall Out Boy girl”. I was psyched, to say the least.
Sanne: When the hiatus ended, I was in school, and my friends ambushed me, screaming at me. At first I thought something was wrong due to the frantic screaming, but then they told me and I joined in. They were back! After all of the rumors and fake comebacks, this was real! It had been a long time waiting and it was about time!
Deana: I do believe I had just gotten home and I had gotten a call from Piper, the Producer/Editor, and she had the wonderful news for me. I was so happy when I heard my favorite band was back! No one could ruin that day for me.

Q. Do any of you have a music or acting background?
P: I’m not much of an actor, but I’ve loved music ever since I could smack pots with wooden spoons. I started out with piano when I was younger, but now I play guitar. I’ll actually be playing some of the guitar parts for the cast recordings of the songs, but we haven’t completely ironed that out yet.
E: Yes, I’ve always been interested in theatre. My mom was a community college professor, so whenever they needed a child actor as a kid, I would step in for them, and my mom was stunningly cool about all the late night practices. Unfortunately, my talent did not increase with age, but I still ended up in the ensemble in most of my high school’s musicals. I don’t have as much of a musical background: I took piano for seven years, but I was dreadful. I sort of play bass. I don’t play bass well.
S: I have done several years of show choir (dancing and singing) and I’ve done a couple of musicals in the past.
D: I was in choir and I used to act when I was younger.

Q. What inspired you to create a Fall Out Boy musical?
P: Making a Fall Out Boy musical combines my favorite band with my favorite hobby: filmmaking. I’ve done short films for school projects, but I’ve never had the chance to take on a full-length production. When Elizabeth told me the idea for the story, I knew we had to make this movie.
E: Musical theatre always struck me as a really incredible medium, so I’d wanted to do a musical for a while. I think what really got me on THIS specific idea was one day I was listening to “Seven Minutes in Heaven” as I was walking to class, and I don’t know why, but it just sounded like the ultimate duet song. It really started when that clicked in my head, and I built up from there.

Q. When did the process officially begin?
E: Unofficially, I started writing this last spring, then I sort of abandoned it. Recently though, with the first anniversary of the band coming off hiatus coming up, we just thought about it again, and started to prepare it; spirit of the season, I suppose you could say. End of January, we buckled down and got really serious about this as a legitimate project.
P: We’ve been batting the idea around for a little while now, but the closer we got to the anniversary of the band’s return, the more compelled we were to finally take action on the project. Earlier this week, we finalized the idea and got everything together. Things have moved a lot faster than we ever could have anticipated.

image

[image from tumblr.com]

Q. What was the thought process behind choosing each song?
P: 
That was mostly Elizabeth’s decision, because she was already working on the screenplay before I knew about the project.
E: 
A few of the songs, most notably “Seven Minutes in Heaven”, “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes“, and “The Mighty Fall” just hit me. I would be listening to one, and suddenly think; “You know what would be an awesome set up for this if it were performed?” Other songs were more difficult. Some songs are expected of musicals, like finales and dramatic, introspective solos, and often I’d have long scenes that just needed a song to break them up. I consulted my friends a lot, and I listened to a lot of Fall Out Boy, all the time, until I could just FEEL the character in the song come to life.

Q. What has the process been like so far?
D: The process so far has been amazing. It has been almost 99% positive comeback! I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
S: The process so far has been fun. It’s great to do something like this with people who share your passion, and throughout the experience so far, there will definitely be memories to take away from this.

Q. How was budgeting determined?
E: 
Piper is better with equipment, and she figured out what the absolute minimum we would need to get simple stuff like lights and cheap mics. Our budget was determined by how little money could be stretched into a feature-length film.
P: 
The budget we have set is the absolute minimum with which this movie can be made. It would cover a basic shotgun microphone and a digital recorder, a few lights, and some necessities relating to the cameras, such as tripods.

Q. What was your initial reaction to ‘Hand of God’?
S: My initial reaction to this musical was ‘yeah, this could be a fun little project to do amongst friends’, but then I started really thinking and getting into it and I got so excited about how we could actually make something amazing out of this!
D: At first I had no idea how it would be. I didn’t hear anything until Elizabeth, the writer, contacted me about the whole musical and process of getting it started. Once I had accepted the offer to see if I could get the part, then had gotten it, I was ready to learn more and do what I could to get it going.

Q. Tell me about your characters.
D: I play Allison. As it says in the short story, she is hippie who battles some tempting things thrown at her in her life at college.
S: My character, Jamie, is a very feisty, über-flirty playgirl, that heads the group that will soon introduce [Deana’s character] Allison to their darker society.

Q. Is there any song that you wanted to use but weren’t able to fit in?
P: 
Either “Fame < Infamy” or “Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet“. They’re two of my favorites, but we can’t force songs in that don’t fit the story. “Fame < Infamy” was actually in the original draft, but it didn’t quite fit and had to be cut.
S:
Of course there were some personal favorites for each of us that just didn’t fit and sadly we couldn’t use them, but there are several favorites that were incorporated and i’m definitely pleased with the outcome.
D: 
I love all the songs that are going to be in the musical. One in particular that I would love to be in the musical would have to be “Miss Missing You“. With our plot, though, it’s tough to fit it in.
E: Ugh, there are so many. In the original draft, we had a ton of different songs, but I think the song I most wanted to be in this that got cut simply due to time was “From Now On We Are Enemies“. It would have been such a great piece…

Q. What FOB song resonates with you the most?
D: 
That song would have to be “Miss Missing You”. I connect so well with the lyrics. I have had some rough times in the past and that song and I connected very well. The first time I heard it, I was in love.
S: 
I think the one song that hits home the hardest for me is “Save Rock and Roll“. It relates to my life in so many ways and really is a beautiful song. When I heard it live I bawled my eyes out. It was incredible, just being able to see all the emotions that the artists showed on their faces as they performed. It was truly awesome. I felt so at peace and ecstatic at the same time.
E: 
Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” without a doubt. That song was what got me into Fall Out Boy, and so much more. It pulled me out of a huge slump, and inspired me to really get serious about writing. I mean, it doesn’t make much sense, but it has a lot of personal meaning for me.
P: 
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. I relate to them all in different ways. I think that’s why I love the band so much.

Q. Besides the obvious, in what ways will Hand of God be different from Panic! the Musical?
E:
 I think the main difference is the fact that it was filmed. It will feel really different in that way, with more room to edit and change scenes than a stage play would. Another thing is that Panic! generally has more theatrical songs, with a clearer story than Fall Out Boy, so I think ours will feel a bit less like a traditional musical than that. We really want it to flow like a music video, and that would be next to impossible with a live audience.
P:
 For one, Panic! The Musical is a stage production. What we’re making is a movie. I know I’ve already said this, but I’ve seen a lot of people think that we’re writing a play, so I thought I should clear that up. Also, since it’s written for film, it’ll have a completely different texture. And, as far as I know, the plots aren’t similar at all.

Q. When was it decided to make this bigger and to share it with the internet?
E: 
As soon as we were serious about it, we wanted to share it. A musical like this belongs to the whole fandom as much as us, and even if we could afford all this, we would want everyone to get to know, and follow this if they wanted. 
P:  
Once we made the decision to make this movie, we knew we would need financial help. The only way we could think of was online crowdsourcing, so we made the social network sites and the IndieGoGo page. Also, this movie was never meant to be a private thing. It was always meant for the whole fanbase to enjoy.

Q. Do you think fans and non-fans will enjoy the movie?
D: I think both will enjoy the movie, it has a great plot line and isn’t just all going to be “Fall Out Boy this, Fall Out Boy that”. It has a story behind it which will make viewers really get into it.
E: I think they both should. The movie really boils down to a college drama, and it should have enough comedy, drama, and tragedy for everybody to enjoy this movie. There are going to be a few jokes left in for the diehards, but nothing that you have to love Fall Out Boy to appreciate. Unless of course you really hate their music. Then you might not enjoy the show.
S: Yes, I think that many people will be able to enjoy this production, both fan and non-fan. Sure there might be a few naysayers, but that comes with everything in life.
P: I’d like to hope we could reach a broad audience. I think that the plot and the characters are interesting enough to draw in people who wouldn’t otherwise think of listening to Fall Out Boy.

Q. What are your goals for this project? After everything is said and done, what would you like to take away from this?
P: 
I’m so excited to make this movie. It’s a bit of a dream come true. I’m truly grateful for the positive feedback we’ve already gotten from the fanbase.
S:
Throughout creating this musical, I hope to get closer to the ones that started this journey with me, make some new friends, and to gain valuable experience to take with me that I can use throughout my life at the end of this whole shebang.
D: 
I hope that we just get positive feedback, also to make people happy. That’s one of my goals. Happy people make a happy me!
E: I think our goals are just to make a cool movie that people can enjoy, and a way for us to get our names out there a little bit, so that people know we’re around in the film and the music industry.

To see the “Hand of God” official song list or to learn more about the film, visit them on Facebook, and donate to the project on IndieGoGo.

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