Growing up in Cheshire, Brendan Toller may have had the hippest mom and dad in town. Both rock 'n' roll fans and record collectors, the elder Tollers raised their boy right and after he’d graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., he returned the favor — or they got a return on their hipster investment — when he made the documentary film I Need That Record! (2010), an energetic musing on vinyl junkies featuring such victims as Mike Watt, Thurston Moore, Ian MacKaye and (yes!) Noam Chomsky.
It was while filming the latter that Toller met Danny Fields, the ultimate rock 'n' roll insider who seems to have had his hand in every aspect of pedigreed rock 'n' roll, from managing and promoting the Doors to guiding the careers of the Velvet Underground, Nico, Cream, Judy Collins, the Modern Lovers, MC5, the Stooges and the Ramones, and editing pop magazines. A renowned raconteur and an unapologetic rock 'n' roll animal, Fields agreed to work with Toller on his documentary bio film, Danny Says (the title taken from a Ramones song but also echoing Lou Reed’s “Candy Says”). Striking while the iron was hot — Fields just turned 70 and hasn’t exactly lived the life of a monk — Toller has already conducted hours of interviews on camera, with Fields, who then opened doors for the filmmaker to players of every imaginable stripe whose lives he has touched, including such interview-shy characters as Jonathan Richman, Jann Wenner and Lenny Kaye, as well as Judy Collins, Tommy Ramone, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper (in face paint), Rufus and Loudon Wainwright, Paul Morrissey, James Williamson, Scott Asheton, and Cheshire’s Eddie “Legs” McNeil.
But there is much more to be done to bring Danny Says (trailer here) to the screens of a mega-plex near you. So the energetic Toller, who now lives in Branford, has initiated a 30-day Kickstarter campaign (ending midnight November 17) to raise funds toward this end. If what he already has in the can is any indication of the final product, Danny Says should be a sleeper hit in the mode of New York Doll by Greg Whiteley or William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe by Sarah and Emily Kunstler. Returns on investment are promised (limited-edition posters, autographed books, T-shirts, copies of the final film, etc.), but the biggest reward will be bringing Danny Says to life and spreading the gospel.