Emmy Award-nominated and award-winning film producer Ian McFarland made a pit stop in Oakwood to share his journey from band member to big screen with film students at the University of North Georgia on March 7.
McFarland, who was visiting Atlanta to attend a viewing party at the Plaza Theater for his first feature-length documentary, “The Godfathers of Hardcore,” arrived at the Gainesville campus straight from the airport. He spoke with students as a guest, client and longtime friend of media law and ethics professor Jonathan Hickman. The two met 10 years ago at an Atlanta film festival.
McFarland began his professional career in 1997 as a touring musician in the hardcore punk rock band Blood for Blood. During his time on the road, he started looking for untold stories within the hardcore music scene and started filming bands from the side of the stage.
Eventually, some of McFarland’s friends in other bands noticed his work and asked him to film music videos for them.
As budgets and his client list grew, McFarland teamed up with his longtime friend Mike Pecci and started a music video production company. The growth of their business led to work with bigger bands in hardcore punk rock like Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying.
McFarland said that he and Pecci based their company on three principles: have passion no matter what, collaborate with others and do the best you can, and step back and listen.
“If you can work with people that believe in your passion and your vision, you’ll be off to a hell of a good start,” McFarland said. “Collaboration is the most important thing.”
One of McFarland and Pecci’s biggest successes was with their first narrative music video for Meshuggah’s “Bleed,” which, in its 10 years, received over 25 million views. The video’s success drew attention to their work from other big names and labels in the music industry, such as Atlantic Records, Universal Records and Roadrunner Records.
One thing led to another, according to McFarland, and production companies started hiring him to produce and film their commercials.
McFarland discussed the years-long journey that went into creating the documentary, telling the stories of two men and their genuine human connection, who go on to become the band Agnostic Front. He said that, in an attempt to reach a more diverse audience, the music aspect of the documentary falls second to the story.
“To be where I’m at now, I couldn’t be happier,” McFarland said. “I don’t think I’d be happier doing anything else.”