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NO CAMERAS ALLOWED (review)

no_cameras_allowed_mtv_a_pNO CAMERAS ALLOWED

Directed by James Marcus Haney / Featuring James Marcus Haney, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons

James Marcus Haney: The plan was…somehow get out to Coachella, somehow sneak in…it happened. It all happened.

Parents, this is one documentary you may want to keep your kids away from.

NO CAMERAS ALLOWED details its young director’s journey from concert virgin in 2010 to invited photographer for the Railroad Revival Tour (Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show) barely a year later, with a whole lot of festival-crashing in between and a whole lot after.

It all begins with Coachella 2010. Haney and his college buddy decide they want to attend the Los Angeles music festival, but have no money for passes, or gas. So they advertise on Craigslist to get someone to ride with them (and share the expense), ditch their new friend once onsite (who’s so high, it’s doubtful he even notices he’s been ditched) and set about sneaking in. Mission accomplished and they have a grand old time. Haney actually brings the cameras as a prop to make it look like he is press – but uses them to weasel his way into the photo pit and even onstage, snapping shots of the likes of everyone from Muse to Jay-Z. And in so doing, he discovers his dream job. He eventually uses his ill-obtained footage to create a documentary (Connaroo – How Broke Kids do Bonnaroo), a film that ends up in the hands of Mumford & Sons and leads to the adventure of his life.

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You know that person that you just shake your head at and think, “How the #$@% did you manage to get away with that?” That’s James Marcus Haney. And that sentiment is seemingly uttered by his friends and family on a daily basis. You don’t know whether to congratulate him on his unlikely accomplishments or chide him for essentially cheating to reach them.

The first half of the film is quite interesting, and the live festival footage shown throughout is very entertaining, particularly for music lovers. But while Haney is inarguably skilled behind the camera lens, NO CAMERAS ALLOWED shows that his real talent lies in an ability to charm (or sneak or lie) his way into festival after festival. His photography skills are pit against his knack for creating fake wristbands – you’re not quite sure what he’s trying to tell you about himself. And while you get the feeling that the message he’s trying to send is “Chase your dreams” that message is unfortunately clouded by “Look at me and all the scams I pulled and people I disappointed to get mine”.

It’s like a much-less-awesome version of ALMOST FAMOUS.

3.5 sheep

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