Marty's Magnificent Day-Glo Dream-a-Thon

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The psychedelic folk rock band, Hippie Cream, premiered their feature length musical June 17 at the historic Hemet Theatre in Hemet, California.

Hippie Cream began recording albums out of founder Cory Houdyshell’s garage in 2001 using an old PC and a microphone used for online telephone calls. The band then consisted of pianist/vocalist/guitarist and bandleader Houdyshell and bassist Travis Henderson. Since then the band has added five new members: Sean Daniel on percussion, Bob Olsen on guitar and lead vocals, Sean Longstreet on solo guitar and horns, and finally Houdyshell’s brother, official cow bell player and star of the film, Wesley Houdyshell. To date, the band has recorded 10 albums, constantly evolving their sound and the equipment they use to produce it.

The idea for a movie musical came about in a casual conversation between the Creamers and Daniel Maggio, a film student at San Jose State, longtime friend and fan of the band.

“All I had at that time was the title ‘Marty’s Magnificent Day-Glo Dream-a-Thon’ locked away in the abandoned ideas folder in my hard drive,” Houdyshell said. “In the back of my mind, it was something I wasn’t sure would ever actually happen.”

Maggio had previously directed music videos for Hippie Cream’s album “On the Moon” and was eager to work on a larger project with the group. The project evolved as a true collaboration with Cory Houdyshell and Maggio discussing story elements via phone and email as Maggio’s script and Hippie Cream’s album simultaneously evolved.

“When I first started writing the screenplay, there were six songs that existed. As the script developed, Hippie Cream recorded new music to go with it. Sometimes they would write new songs and I would incorporate them into the movie. Sometimes it would be the other way around,” said Maggio. In the end, there were 24 Hippie Cream tracks recorded specifically for the film, and even after the film wrapped band members continued to contribute soundtrack to the film.

Of the style of the film Maggio said, “It’s a science fiction B-movie musical,” influenced by “The Wizard of Oz” and “Rock N’ Roll High School” starring the Ramones.

“Marty,” like the Ramones film, is centered around the band’s biggest fan, Marty Fishman, whose lifelong dream is to become the sixth member of the group. After Marty learns that his Pee Paw, played by Walter Savell, is dying from a rare disease that will cause his eyeballs to fall out of their sockets, Marty searches the depths of his dreams to find a cure with the help of eccentric scientist Dr. Dream, played by Michael Tennant.

“As I started doing more research about the sleep cycle, I learned that the vividness of our dreams progresses as we sleep. The first dreams we have are very happy, with little anxiety, and we often don't remember them. As we get further in the sleep cycle we enter R.E.M. and our dreams become more vivid, realistic and potentially terrifying,” Maggio said. “Through the course of the movie, Marty goes through an entire sleep cycle, so the quality and anxiety of the dreams increases and each dream sequence has its own visual personality and tone.”

The actors take on various characters in each dream sequence, much like the “Wizard of Oz,” and like its classic influence “Marty” makes use of both black and white and color filming. The use of different cameras for each dream sequence mimics the mixing of genres and instrumentation on the Hippie Cream album, which features sounds influenced by folk, psychedelic oddities, hillbilly swing, and punk rock among the many styles represented.

“I love the idea of making propaganda films where you show the band in a positive light,” Maggio said. “If someone watches a movie about Hippie Cream’s biggest fan, they are more likely to become a fan of the band themselves. This movie is for everyone who is a Hippie Cream fan, but doesn’t know it yet.”

By Yvonne Flack - June 2011