Sam Radutzky and Josh Freund met at Northwestern University and formed a special bond over their love for video production. This led them to create the Louisiana Feature, Audience Award-winning film, “Do U Want It?”
“Do U Want It?” will be screening at the Louisiana International Film Festival on Sunday, April 22. The film will be screened at Cinemark Perkins Rowe at 4 p.m. Prospective viewers can find out more information at www.lifilmfest.org.
Co-directors, Radutzky and Freund, moved to New Orleans in 2012 after graduating college. They quickly pursued their dreams and started their own video production company, ABIS Productions, which focuses on creating features on musicians and bands. As they were starting their company, they quickly became regulars at the Maple Leaf Bar in Uptown New Orleans. There, they were formally introduced to Papa Grows Funk, a popular jazz/funk band that performed at the Maple Leaf every Monday night.
They were already fans of Papa Grows Funk, but after experiencing them week after week in any jazz band’s dream location, The Maple Leaf Bar, they fell in love with the band’s energy and funky rhythms.
“We moved to New Orleans for the tight-knit musical community and to find bands like Papa Grows Funk,” Radutzky said.
According to Papa Grows Funk’s website, the band’s genre is “booty shaking party music.” The band was started by John “Papa” Gros in 2000. Gros started the band by inviting a few local musicians to join him on stage to play. What started as impromptu performances led to the beginning of “Papa Grows Funk,” which had five members total: John Gros, June Yamagishi, Marc Pero, Jason Mingledorff and Jeffery, “Jelly Bean,” Alexander.
The band played for 13 years total and gathered a large fan base, including Radutzky and Freund, who spent their free time at the Maple Leaf listening to the funky, jazz music. So, when Papa Grows Funk announced they would be going on a farewell tour before they disbanded, Radutzky and Freund were sad, yet eager to share their love for the band. They wanted to give the band’s legacy a fitting tribute, so, with the permission of Papa Gros, they filmed the band’s final few shows. They also captured personal moments in interviews with the band members.
“We originally thought that this was going to be a short film, but once we knew how rich their story was, we knew it had to be a feature-length film,” Freund said.
The filming began in January 2013 with a small budget but a large amount of passion. The co-directors filmed everything themselves, with the help of their production company, ABIS. Since they had only been out of school and in New Orleans for five months, their video production knowledge was fresh and they were eager to begin with their first feature film. They chose to name the film “Do U Want It?” after the band’s hit song, but also in reference to how musicians have to love what they do to be truly successful.
The filming took about four years and had its local premiere at the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival, where it was beyond well received and brought Papa Grows Funk fans together. The fans now have the joy of Papa Grows Funk immortalized into a feature-length film that sheds light on the magic behind the funk band.
“The movie tells the story of the band, but it’s really about universal themes that people from all over have related to,” Radutzky said. “What does it mean to be successful?”