Screens It's ok, i'm with the band 

Director Don Argott stage dives into 'Rock School'

If you asked director Don Argott as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, astronaut, fireman, cowboy, or even superhero would never have entered his mind. For Argott, it was all about being a rock star.

"I have been a musician my whole life," Argott told the Current via phone from Austin. "I always wanted to be a rock star. I felt that was what I was going to be. Obviously, that didn't work out."

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Paul Green, right, is the founder and director of the Paul Green School of Rock in Philadelphia.

Instead, Argott, now 32, decided to attend the Art Institute of Philadelphia to pursue a career in his life's only other passion - filmmaking.

With Rock School, Argott's first feature documentary, the young boy that grew up listening to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin can now relive his dreams of becoming a musician, even if he's doing it vicariously.

In Rock School, a real-life School of Rock (Jack Black's sleeper hit of 2003), Argott, who is credited as director, producer, and cinematographer, follows a group of 7-to-19-year-old kids who are enrolled in the Paul Green School of Rock Music, a Philadelphia after-school music program. Known for his unconventional teaching methods, Green, the school's founder, is an in-your-face instructor who uses insults and his fair share of expletives to inspire his young protégés to play everything from Carlos Santana to Pink Floyd to Frank Zappa.

Many viewers might find Green's techniques too extreme; he repeatedly breaks kids down emotionally and builds them back up again. But, says Argott, it's the type of motivation that kids need these days.

"Whether you agree with his message or not, the results kind of speak for themselves," Argott said of the many talented students that attend the school. "Everybody is so afraid to take any chances and light a fire under kids' asses. There is so much coddling and there's a lot of kids that are not inspired because everyone is just so careful with them. I liked the fact that Paul pushes them and basically doesn't say, 'You're really great.' He says, 'You suck!' and it's because a lot of them do suck."

Despite Green's tantrums, Argott wants audiences to know that the film's lead characters are still the kids.

"These kids were so much fun to be around," Argott said. "I was so inspired on a personal and artistic level that I would go home after a day of shooting and pick up my guitar and would just want to practice because these kids were so much better than I was."

By Kiko Martinez


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