He may be the subject of the new documentary "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey," but don't tell Arnel Pineda he's a movie star now. He's still getting his head around being Journey's current lead singer.
"It's, like, half dream and half reality for me," the Filipino singer -- who joined Journey in 2007 after guitarist Neal Schon discovered videos of him performing Journey songs on YouTube -- tells Billboard. "It still feels unbelievable. It still feels so surreal. Me being with Journey right now is about being able to help the guys make it relevant, because as we all know the band's been going on for about 40 years now, since 1973, and it's going strong because the message is still very positive and the music is so good."
The "Don't Stop Believin'" film is the brainchild of director/writer/producer Ramona S. Diaz, a fellow Filipino who was hipped to Pineda's story by the country's embassy shortly after Journey began working with the singer. The movie -- which opens March 8 in select cities and will be available the following day on most On Demand services -- intimately traces Pineda's journey to Journey, from his past in a broken home and poverty to his rise as one of the Phillipines most popular indigenous singers.
The movie also follows him closely on his first tour with Journey, overcoming both language barriers, colds and haters loyal to predecessor Steve Perry, as well as a triumphant homecoming that includes a concert in Manila with Journey. It's been shown at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival and the AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdogs Documentary Festival.
"We were kind of taken aback by (the film) because we've always been sort of a private affair with what we do," notes Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who's shown helping Pineda with pre-show vocal exercises. "In the end she won us over, and we just went, 'Cool, let's work together.' This really is Ramona's baby; it's Arnel's story and Journey cooperated, but it's her vision. We had no idea what kind of movie she was going to make, but she made this movie from the heart and I don't think she missed the mark at all. She chased us around for nearly four years; we move at the speed of sound with our buses and our crew, and she's in a van keeping up with us. Her commitment to this film is what I'm most impressed with. She really caught this story, the evolution of a rock star."
Pineda -- who's recorded two albums with Journey, "Revelation" in 2008 and 2011's "Eclipse" -- says he hopes "Don't Stop Believin' " is viewed as an inspirational story.
"I want people to see that the miracle, the divine intervention -- it happens," he explains. "I want them to ponder on it and the dreams they have for themselves, because that's what I did. I had a hard life. I was really poor at one part of my life. My young years in Manila weren't that pleasant. But I never quit. I just moved on. I believed in myself. I knew that somehow, some day I'd become somebody -- but this is bigger than what I was dreaming."
Journey is wrapping up a tour with Deep Purple in Australia before moving on to a four-show run in Japan and then a European trek with Whitesnake. The group is planning dates for North America during the summer, including a possible 40th anniversary show at AT&T Park in its home town of San Francisco.
A full list of theaters screening "Don't Stop Believin' " can be found at everymansjourney.com.