Thursday, September 6, 2012

Q&A with John Branca - Review by Sam "Jesta" Geden

OK, the Q&A session. Forgive me again as this is mostly from memory and I'm probably going to mess up a detail or two.

First of all, Spike said that he was completely open to the possibility of doing documentaries of any other album, provided the Estate asks him to. Branca was very enthusiastic about the posibility as well, citing HIStory as one of his favourite albums at the moment.

Picture courtesy of ~Lindsey~

Spike began talking about the time in which he first met Michael. MJ tried to get him to come to LA, but Spike forced him to come to New York to meet him. There, Michael played the HIStory album for Spike and said that he can pick any song he wanted to in order to make a short film. After listening to the album, Spike first jokingly asked if he could keep the album, but then decided that he wanted to do "Stranger in Moscow", but Michael - shocked by his decision - asked him to do "They Don't Care About Us" instead, under the impression that the song's message would instantly resonate with Spike.

Spike and Branca were asked what they would ask Michael if he were alive. Spike said that he would ask why Just Good Friends was included in the album, leading to a debate with the crowd. Branca then said that he would ask why Streetwalker wasn't included on the album AS WELL AS Just Good Friends. Spike also would ask why there was no short film for "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" due to the potential of the song.

Picture courtesy of ~Lindsey~

Spike commented that Michael "didn't want to be seen until now" in response to why Michael always kept the footage seen in the film for his personal archive. Branca then added that he attended a screening of the Wembley concert and that he was breathless over just how great the performance is. He claims that it is the greatest performance that has ever been done.

Spike talked about how much of a hard worker Michael was in perfecting his craft, citing Michael's wuote "Study the Greats and be Greater", and offered that advice to the young people in the audience who want to become successful in life. He said that Michael "busted his ass and killed himself" for his art in rehearsals to put on the shows that he did during his career.

Branca talked about his favourite memories of Michael. He said that there were too many to pick, but the "Raison Attitude" moment in the film perfectly epitomised how he saw Michael during his life; a complete perfectionist to the last detail, woth a great sense of humour. Spike talked about how he and Michael travelled to Brazil for the shooting of They Don't Care About Us, and that it became "the safest place on Earth" for them once they conversed with the local ganglords and paid them protection money so that no harm would come to Michael.

Spike denounced any intentions of doing a biopic on Michael's life for the sole reason that no-one would ever be able to play Michael due to the fact that he is too iconic for anyone to replicate. Branca then discussed then discussed the Bad 25 packages, including the demo tracks (though not much about them was said aside from just saying that they exist).

Branca discussed the possibility of bringing the HIStory Tour in Munich to 3D for a cinema release. Spike was then asked what his favourite short film is, but he couldn't answer it. Someone asked about the editing choices that Spike made during the tearful moment of the film, to which he then approached the front of the stage and told the person asking the question that he asked every interviewee the question "Where were you when Michael Jackson died?". Spike continued to say that he was at a conference at Cannes when he heard the news, and that he was shaken up by it.

Picture courtesy of ~Lindsey~

After the Q&A session, Spike disappeared to what I can only imagine was another room at the cinema to do pictures and autographs (I couldn't find him, so I couldn't get a chance to take a picture with him) but Branca stayed behind and talked to any fan that wanted to engage in conversation with him. He stayed behind for at least 15 minutes after the end of the session. I talked to him a couple of times, asking for a picture and thanking him for his promise to not release any more Cascio tracks (which he told another fan before I asked for a picture), as well as for the opportunity for me to be in the Behind the Mask music video. He then told me about how much fun the video was, and said that he really enjoyed Hold My Hand as a video, because it's a very fitting tribute to Michael and everything he stood for.

© Sam "Jesta" Geden

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