Jokes Aside: Mark Phinney discusses Boston music’s involvement in his new film ‘It’s Not Funny Anymore’

Mark Phinney (right) with Pearl Lung and Flea

There’s a climatic scene in director Mark Phinney’s 2013 film Fat where the main character hardly says a word. He doesn’t need to, because the music playing as everything unfolds around him captures the mood of what we’re seeing on the screen. It was MG Lederman’s “Longfellow Bridge,” and the inclusion and placement of the song gave Fat a true tie-in to the Boston music scene. The film itself is about one man’s struggles with his weight, but Lederman’s song, in addition to the other Boston bands represented on the soundtrack, the scenes shot at various recognizable rock club around town, and the parade of band t-shirts flashing on screen gave Fat an identity with Boston music.

Fat drew rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and the Boston Independent Film Festival earlier this year, and it’s likely that people in those theaters heard Slowdim, Jim Healey, and the Rationales’ David Mirabella, among others, for the first time.

Now Phinney is embarking on a new project, It’s Not Funny Anymore, about a Boston comic who mines his life for material and how the practice, over time, pulls him into a deep depression. It’s a drama about mental illness, suicide, and art, and while the plotline revolves around our city’s world of comedy and the struggles its players endure on stage and behind the scenes, the Boston native once again is giving our Boston music scene a platform.

And this time, Lederman has an even greater role, composing most of the It’s Not Funny Anymore soundtrack. A kickstarter for the film has been launched just this week, hoping to raise $10,000 in the next month or so.

“We are showing a real Boston,” Phinney tells Vanyaland last night. “Not the Hollywood crane shots, but the clubs, streets, stoops including a bike ride through the city crafted by real Boston bike messengers.”

Though he spent several years recently in Los Angeles, it was the Boston music scene and community that helped lure him back to the East Coast in 2011. And he saw a goldmine of talent deserving of proper exposure. Working with musicians comes naturally to Phinney, a devoted Morrissey and British indie fanatic (his new film’s title has a certain Smiths-ian ring to it) who has also directed the upcoming 2015 film The Mayor Of Rock And Roll, a Brendan Boogie-produced look at trying to make it in the music industry.

For Phinney, music is the common thread, whether tackling comedy, personal health, or the common struggle of breaking out of a boring existence.

“The music, that’s a whole other thing,” he says. “It’s great. It’s real. It’s unpretentious and not concerned with fame or money. It’s an extension of the people that create it and the city itself. It’s everything I want to work with, be around and represent because it’s the realness of the town. The sincere truth of what we are as a city of filmmakers, rockers, writers, actors, painters, bloggers and more. It’s a whole to me. Each is a supporter of the other and with that we do it because we care and love it, and for no other reason but to connect and share. That for me is at the heart of this music scene and the people in. I know it’s a long answer, but the truth about why I want to work with, be friends with and share the music of the town and the people in my films.”

Check out the Kickstarter, and a description of the film in Phinney’s own words, below…