I saw Bruce Springsteen perform when I was 12. It was my first real concert, and I was there with my parents. (I have cool parents.) I remember it vividly — the giant screens surrounding the stage, the heady aroma of weed, that deep chant of "Bruuuuuce" that swelled through the stadium and kept going and going and going.
My mom also remembers her first Springsteen concert — in 1985 on the Born in the USA tour. It was right around the time she started dating my dad, and my dad's attire might have been part of the attraction: "The night I met him, he was wearing tight black jeans and black boots and a black T-shirt. Only he'd cut the sleeves off, like Bruce. We played Trivial Pursuit."
Most Springsteen fans have a memory like this — some deeply personal recollection of waiting in line for tickets or driving around town listening to "Born to Run." And now, filmmakers are capitalizing on this fact.
Ridley Scott Associates, Black Dog Films and Scott Free London are teaming up to produce a new documentary called Springsteen & I, and they're asking fans all over the world to submit their anecdotes and insights about what Springsteen means to them. Old photos, recorded videotape, narration imposed over abstract images or any other visual material; all are welcome. The compiled raw footage will be edited into a feature-length music documentary, to be released globally in 2013.
This is not the first large-scale example of crowdsourcing a creative project. Star Wars Uncut pioneered collective filmmaking when it compiled thousands of user-submitted 15-second video clips into a full-length rendition of Star Wars IV: A New Hope — and won an Emmy for it. And Springsteen & I's Scott Free London was also the production company behind the documentary Life in a Day, which asked YouTube users to submit clips of themselves filmed over a single 24-hour period.
But making a Springsteen doc "for the people and by the people" is perhaps the most apt use of collective filmmaking. Springsteen is widely seen as a democratic rock star, a working-class hero who makes ordinary lives extraordinary in songs that are simultaneously accessible and complex. His music offers redemption through despair, turning the mundane into poetry and losers into champions. Even President Obama recognized Springsteen's widespread appeal and democratizing power when he riffed at a 2008 fundraising event, "The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen."
The producers behind this documentary recognize that there is an inextricable tie between the Boss and his fans. Through the power of creative crowdsourcing, they'll aim to show that the story of Springsteen is, in fact, the story of Springsteen & I.
Starting today, director Baillie Walsh and the production team behind Springsteen & I are soliciting user submissions through their site. The deadline to submit is November 29.