I got a chance to see Great World of Sound at the Dryden on Thursday. Writer/director Craig Zobel introduced the film and was on hand afterward with starring actor Pat Healy (who is also Jim Healy's brother). I rather enjoyed the movie. The trailers I had seen made it out to be somewhat whimsical but it really got pretty serious at times. Basically a couple guys who are looking for odd jobs stumble upon an opportunity to become record producers. They are excited to sign people up and welcome all kinds of talent — solely based on how much money they can come up with as a good-faith deposit. Slowly they come to realize the whole thing is a scam — nobody actually gets a viable record out of it.
The discussion afterward was rather interesting. I think a lot of people — and one woman in particular — were a bit disturbed that to film the audition scenes, they used an advertisement for producing records in a local paper to lure real musicians to a hotel room. They auditioned and secretly filmed then brought behind the scenes and shown how things were run, and asked if they wanted to participate in the movie. Craig Zobel said he had developed a relationship with all the people who arrived so he didn't have any qualms about how he approached it. He admitted that some of the worst and most embarrassing acts were actually actors hired to play musicians. Pat Healy said he and co-star Kene Holliday had to handle improvising for an hour at a time — staying in character — to create those scenes. It also created rapport and a thorough understanding of what it took to do that kind of job.
Craig Zobel said that he got into it because his father got involved in a real "song sharking scam at one point in the 1970's. However, once he realized it was a scam and got out far earlier than the Pat's character Martin did. Zobel had researched other scams and was well versed on how they work. At one point in the film, Kene Holliday's character Clarence gives a climactic diatribe that sometimes you get desperate enough for money that you'll do this kind of thing — that the world isn't fair and that when it's not fair to you, you can't realistically be fair to it.
It's sad that there are people who get to the point that they feel the need to turn on their fellow humans.