Authentic Music Key To 'Secret' Filmmakers

After deciding to tell this story in a film, "Secret" co-writer/director Rodger Grossman had his first meeting with the family of Crash.

The creative forces behind the feature film "What We Do Is Secret," which tells the story of the late Darby Crash, lead singer for the influential Los Angeles punk rock band the Germs, strove for ultimate authenticity in a process that took 10 years to get the movie made.

After deciding to tell this story in a film, "Secret" co-writer/director Rodger Grossman had his first meeting with the family of Crash, whose mother "trusted me and let me run with it," he said during a panel session yesterday (Nov. 16) at the Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference in Los Angeles.

"The more I got into [researching the story], I found if we just stuck with what actually happened, it would be better than any movie I could create," Grossman said. "I kept after it doggedly; I kept scratching until the truth started to show itself."

In fact, Grossman wanted to hire actual musicians to portray the members of the band. Shane West was cast to portray Crash, who died of a heroin overdose at age 22 in 1980, because the actor actually has his own punk band and handles all of his own music in the movie, Grossman said.

In addition, the actors who portrayed the rest of the band -- including Bijou Phillips -- were taught to play instruments by Pat Smear, guitarist for the Germs and music producer on the film, and their recordings were used in the movie.

Other efforts to ensure authenticity included having some of the actors wear the band's original clothing and accurately re-creating the graffiti on a wall of the famed Hollywood club called the Masque where the band played. Moreover, actual members of every real-life band portrayed in the film were part of the movie. "Rodger's rule was: 'If you haven't seen it in a photograph, I don't want it on my set,'" Smear said.

Germs bassist Lorna Doom said having her story told on the big screen is a "surreal experience." As previously reported, she and the other surviving members of the Germs are actually touring again with West serving as lead singer.

The panelists noted they are looking for a distributor for "Secret" and have had several meetings; they are hoping the movie will be released in summer 2006.