Green Day produced a documentary about punk rock music, and it’s not what you’d expect. This isn’t a documentary about sold-out shows or Grammy-winning albums. Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk is a raw, unassuming look at how the San Francisco Bay area shaped punk rock music. It focuses on how one venue specifically, 924 Gilman, became home to the era’s young, unestablished bands.
Instead of a popular Hollywood director, Billie Joe Armstrong recruited Corbett Redford to direct the documentary. Redford knew band members Armstrong and Mike Dirnt from high school, and he had directed a few of Green Day’s music videos.
Of course, this alone wasn’t his only qualification for the role. Redford was chosen because he knew the scene inside and out. His connections led him to score rare concert footage and interviews with artists integral to the punk movement. Over their three years of production, the team procured over 500 vintage video clips from live shows and conducted over 150 interviews. Check out a playlist inspired by the artists featured below.
Narrated by Iggy Pop, the film tells the story of the many punk rock bands who started their careers in the Bay Area. At 924 Gilman, the venue recruited volunteers to work there in exchange for concert tickets. With no alcohol and no age restrictions, the venue was a popular place for young people to see live music and meet new friends within the punk community.
Although the documentary focuses on the genre’s heyday from the late ’70s to the ’90s, even today 924 Gilman still operates as a DIY, all-ages, volunteer-led nonprofit music community.
The punk community of the East Bay gave a voice to all of its participants – artists in bands, fans attending the shows, and volunteers and workers who helped put on the shows. It gave them safe place to express themselves, a place to bond with like-minded people, and a place to just enjoy the music they all loved.
Turn it Around: The Story of East Bay Punk is currently being screened as part of the San Francisco Doc Fest with additional screenings set to take place across the US, in coordination with Green Day’s tour dates.
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