Friends and Fandom: An interview with Michael Corbiere, director of U2 Brothr

U2 Brother director Michael Corbiere.

Plenty of documentaries have been created to showcase some of the worlds biggest bands, but how often do we get the chance to follow their biggest fans? Director Michael Corbiere knew he had the perfect fan to follow, his friend Mark Baker. Mark is a huge fan of U2, even building a ‘shrine’ to the band in his basement. After winning a car in a contest held at the radio station 102.1 The Edge, Mark’s girlfriend bought him a personalized license plate that reads U2BROTHR. Easily one of the biggest U2 fans around, Mark received plenty of friendly teasing from Michael, but Mark’s passion for the band, and his dream of being pulled up on stage during a U2 concert, was the building block for Michael’s documentary, U2 Brothr . Toronto Film Scene had a chance to speak with Michael about his film, his friendship with Mark, and what the future holds for the director.

Toronto Film Scene: First of all, what made you want to tell Mark’s story?

Michael Corbiere: Mark is just that one-in-a-million type of character that anyone would consider themselves lucky to be friends with.  His unwavering positive attitude is so out-of-this-world, people always see something special in him instantly.  His energy attracts all these great things, and events, towards him, that he’s become a living testament that karma is real.  I wish I could say that I instantly knew I should tell his story in a film, but it was only after so many special things just kept happening to him month to month, year to year, that I finally had my eureka moment. I mean really, how many people win a car, and then have a rock superstar sit on the hood and pose with you for a photo shoot?

TFS: After following his journey from concert to concert, have you started to find yourself swept up in U2 fandom, and do you now have a better understanding of his love for the band?

MC: I was a U2 fan myself in the ’80s and ’90s, but I definitely lost touch with the band sometime after their Zooropa album in 1993 when my musical tastes changed.  In the film I discuss how U2 almost became just this thing that I could tease my buddy Mark about.  But after going to my first U2 concert with Mark for the making of this film, words cannot describe how overwhelming an experience it was to be at a U2 concert, especially being in the General Admission pit and so close to the band.  I was instantly made a believer again in just how special a band U2 is.  If anyone out there has “U2 Concert” on their bucket list, they should definitely work towards crossing it off should the band decide to tour again when their new album comes out later this year.

Mark Baker, dressed and ready for another U2 concert.

Mark Baker, dressed and ready for another U2 concert.

TFS: Mark is attempting to get pulled on stage during a U2 concert in the film, and viewers are really going to want him to succeed. Part of that is because he’s such a great guy, but part of that is also because he gives us all hope for our own dreams. Was this something you tried to build in the film, or is it more of a natural trait that Mark embodies?

MC: I think most of us tend to get worn down a bit from the day-to-day grind of life.  But there are these special angels amongst us who just never let that happen to themselves.  We need these people beside us to remind us all that there is a little kid inside every one of us.  Luckily for me as a filmmaker, I just had to point the camera at him and let the story tell itself.  There is a very captivating arc to this film that didn’t need to be built – and in the end, we all have a lot we can learn from Mark and his outlook on life.

TFS: There’s been a bit of time between the events in the film and now, has Mark’s fandom has changed at all?

MC: Nothing will ever change this guy.  That’s why I really hope this film finds an audience.  It’s not just for U2 fans, but rather for anyone who likes to be inspired.  Mark can help you to fall in love again with the things that inspire you.

Mark has met Bono more than once.

Mark has met Bono more than once, they’re pictured here sitting on the hood of Mark’s car.

TFS: Has there been any response from the band regarding the film?

MC: We’ve been very lucky in that there are many people who are close to the band who are big fans of the film and are supporting the project.  We are talking to U2′s Principle Management team in New York and they tell us the film is “on everyone’s radar” there and in Dublin as well, and that we should be hearing something “any day now”.  It’s an exciting and nerve-racking time for me as a filmmaker.  At the minimum we’re hoping to get rights clearances for the music and the imagery.  However my dream for Mark would be that the band somehow dreams up some sort of official support for the film, and who knows, possibly even participate in the film somehow.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Mark, it’s that you should always dream big.  You just never know what the universe has in store.

TFS: How can people see U2 Brothr?

MC: People will be able to see the film one way or another very soon.  This is the inherent problem with making a fan film on any subject – you become beholden to the granting of rights and it can slow down the process, and your own hopeful timelines of release dates.  Missy and Karyn from U2′s office have told us that our “patience” will be the key to making this work.  So wait we shall – they tell us “any day now”.

TFS: What will you be working on next?

MC: I have two projects I’m currently developing.  One is called Reserve Players that I came up with while producing for the Toronto Blue Jays.  The airplane, then bus, for the Cleveland Indians baseball team breaks down, and they up being put up for the night on an actual Indian Reserve in Northern Ontario.  There they discover two Native American baseball phenoms and sign them to the team.  I’m hoping to involve Adam Beach and Graham Greene with the project, two great Canadian actors.  The other project I’m developing is called Ubiquitous , and is a paranoid psychological conspiracy thriller.  I’ve always wanted to do a project with the Canadian Film Centre, and Ubiquitous would be a perfect fit for them, so we’ll see what happens.

 


Raised on a healthy diet of Star Wars and every horror film on a video store shelf, Will has been watching movies since before he was able to talk. Inspired by an ever growing passion for film, and the occasional mind control experiment, Will began writing film review on his personal blog, The Film Reel. When the mind control experiments actually worked, he was able to secure a position with Toronto Film Scene. He now waits patiently in the TFS basement for October to come every year, when his love for horror films finally pays off.

1 Comment

  • Reply June 10, 2013

    Dave

    Been close friends with Mark since 2005, and lucky for me I have had the honor of previewing this film.
    The film will make you smile, and keeps you interested from start to finish.
    Mark is an amazing human being and deserves all good things that come his way.
    I'm looking forward to hitting the road with you in "U2014?" my friend!!!!

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