“Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash” is a powerful new documentary film by director Jared Cohn. Not only was it a monstrous challenge making a film about legendary band Lynyrd Skynyrd, but for director Jared Cohn most of the challenges would be faced after the camera stopped rolling. Cohn, whose new film “Devil’s Revenge” is released in October, explains how his treasured passion project “Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash” has really been put through the ringer. But, thanks to the legal system, seems there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Are you still in L.A, Jared?
Jared Cohn (JC): Yep. I’ve been here for a bit. No current plans to leave at the moment. L.A. is certainly a one of a kind city. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it… and I think that’s basically most artist’s viewpoint who come out from a different place. But this is where the heart of the entertainment industry is. Although Atlanta and Canada are catching up… if not surpassing.
MM: How have the last few years treated you? I know you had a hard time getting the Lynyrd Skynyrd movie going?
JC: That was absolutely one of the most stressful times in my life. We lost the initial Federal court case in New York, and I basically lost my mind. I put years of work into that movie, researching preproduction, shooting… and then we got sued and lost the case and the movie got BANNED. Mental devastation. Hopes and dreams crushed. But with the support of all the major studios, via an Amicus Brief, and 13 first amendment rights organizations/advocates we won the appeal in the second circuit appellate court and that was a great day. So many politics involved, but in the end, it worked out. The movie can and will be released.
MM: You won the case, and now the film is releasing. When, do you know?
JC: The film has been submitted to numerous film festivals and hopefully it will have a good run before getting released. Fingers crossed. I will let everyone know what film festival it will premiere at. It will hopefully be a great day.
MM: How much of an undertaking was the film?
JC: Massive. I read all the books and watched all the documentaries and listened to all the music and interviewed people and worked with various historians as well as Artimus Pyle, the drummer of the band. It was very important to me to keep it historically accurate. There was, of course, some stressful times during the shoot, like any other movie, but we pulled it off and I am very proud of the film.
MM: Can we expect to hear the band’s music in the film?
JC: There’s some in there. It was tricky to be able to get the rights to use the music due to all the legal matters that were taking place, but in the end, with the genius of Cleopatra and with our legal team, we were able to make some of it happen.
MM: How does one jump from a tragic musical biopic to a sci-fi film starring William Shatner!?
JC: My life has been very much a journey into the wild. Projects come, projects go, and I was lucky and fortunate to be able to direct those two films. I am very grateful to Brian Perera, the CEO of Cleopatra Entertainment for granting me these opportunities. That said, the projects I do sort of choose me in an unusual way. But there was no way I was going to decline the offer to work with William Shatner or make a Lynyrd Skynard movie. But like most things in life, you can’t predict what’s next.
MM: Tell us about ‘’Devil’s Revenge’’.
JC: It’s fun, it’s got scares, good characters, good story. Working off of a script written by the writer of Star Trek, Maurice Hurley, who created the Borg – I had to do the story justice or else all the Trekkies would be out for blood. The story is Shatner’s and his camp were, of course, cautious about the film – all that said, Shatner’s folks saw the movie and were very pleased with how it came out. Hopefully audiences will feel the same way. It comes out October 1st, 2019.
MM: Who does Shatner play?
JC: He plays a badass. He is the father of the lead, he’s tough – and he is an awesome actor, he’s been acting longer than most people have been alive. His presence is powerful. When he was on set, everyone stepped their game up. It was such a blessing to work with him, and become his friend.
MM: He likes to make fun of himself, and his on-screen persona as much as he can, does he do that here?
JC: He was serious, no making fun of himself in this movie. This was his story, so he brought out a side of him that I’ve haven’t seen before. He is a force on the screen.
MM: Is there anyone you would’ve liked to have gotten for the movie that you couldn’t?
JC: There was some actors that I would have liked to have been in the movie, but do to scheduling and the fact we shot in Kentucky, this prevented some actors to be able to work in the movie. All that said, we had an amazing cast. Everyone did a fantastic job, and I’m very proud with how it all came together.
MM: Where now, Jared? Maybe a musical? Period drama? Documentary?
JC: I would love to do a musical, or a period drama or a documentary. I’ve done many different genres and there’s a lot more I would love to do. I love making movies. I hope to be able to do many more films. That said, I also like to do music videos, and videos of all sorts. I’ve got a new movie I am prepping for now, can’t say what it is, but hopefully it will all come together. This industry is so crazy, you never know what is around the next corner.