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Inside look at Green Day

Doug Hamilton devoted years to his documentary 'Broadway Idiot,' about the punk band, and he will join the rockers at Newport Beach Film Festival's on opening night.

April 24, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy in "Broadway Idiot."
Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy in "Broadway Idiot." (Paul Kolnik )

When Doug Hamilton premiered his film "Broadway Idiot" this year in Austin, Texas, he had a particularly tough crowd to please. Hundreds of hardcore Green Day fans lined up outside the theater on Main Street, waiting to see the 80-minute documentary.

The venue, with its 1,200-person capacity, added to the pressure because Hamilton's background in television had equipped him for screenings on small monitors with a couple of viewers.

And to top it all off, members of Grammy-winning punk rock band Green Day were about to see his new effort.

When lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong (a part-time Newport Beach resident), bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool appeared after Hamilton's introduction, though, a huge cheer rang through the enthusiastic crowd.

"As the film started, I was really nervous, but bit by bit, I relaxed when [the audience] started to laugh in all the right places, and even in some places [we] never thought we'd get a laugh," he recalled. "The thing that was most gratifying was that they were also really quiet in the right parts, and you could just feel that people were engaged and really into the story."

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In "Broadway Idiot," the photographer and filmmaker provides an inside look into two diametric music worlds — punk rock and Broadway — with Armstrong front and center. The fast-paced film will have its West Coast debut Thursday as it kicks off the Newport Beach Film Festival.

While Green Day, known for hits including "Longview," "Basket Case" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," is no stranger to performing, Hamilton sought to dig deeper. His vision included members of the group being comfortable enough to let their guard down, almost as if they'd forgotten cameras were rolling.

"For someone so famous to open up to our cameras, I think, is really rare," said Hamilton, 52, of New York City. "I think [Billie Joe's] connection with the company and the process was so important to him — both personally and creatively — that he wanted to share this experience."

Green Day emerged from San Francisco's punk scene in the late 1980s, garnering fans from high school students to those who attended Woodstock in 1994.

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