Mark Opsasnick and Jeff Krulik – 12:45 to 1:30 La Rambla Stage

Mark Opsasnick is a cultural historian who has authored seven books including “Capitol Rock” – a history of Washington, D.C.-area rock and roll from 1951 to 1976. He lives in Greenbelt, Maryland and is currently working on a book project that examines the evolution of popular music in the Washington, D.C. area from the Colonial era to the nation’s Bicentennial.
Jeff Krulik is a documentary filmmaker with a large, and local body of work, including Heavy Metal Parking LotHeavy Metal Picnic, and Led Zeppelin Played Here (featuring Mark Opsasnick), which explores the mystery of whether the band played their first DC-area concert at the Wheaton Youth Center on January 20, 1969. He is currently working on Tales of Belair at Bowie, about the planned 1960s suburb he grew up in.

led-zeppelin-played-here-206x300Mark Opsasnick and Jeff Krulik Interview

by Sarah Baker
Mark Opsasnick and Jeff Krulik have both found success in their own rights, one as a writer and the other as a director, but their fascination with what’s outside of the mainstream is what brought this duo together. These purveyors of the peculiar have covered everything from the true story of The Exorcist (Mark) to the shenanigans that abound in venue parking lots ahead of notable rock n’ roll shows (Jeff) and continue working to chronicle all things fringe. Read on to find out more about this dynamic duo ahead of their appearance at the festival!
Why cover topics outside of the mainstream?

MO: I research and write about topics that interest me regardless of whether they are in the mainstream or not. As it turns out, most of my projects are based on questions about certain topics that I am seeking answers to that I cannot find in any previously published sources.
JK: One of the highest compliments I can get for my documentary work is when someone says ‘Is this for real?’ I’ve always been drawn to the fringes. I don’t necessarily know why, but when I was a kid I used to love to go to magazine stands and pick the strangest magazine in the back of the rack and then look in the classifieds where they would sell instructions on how to build an earthworm farm, stuff like that. I’m not sure if this is the answer you had in mind. But I’ve always been interested in the fringes and margins and what’s going on beneath the surface. 
How did you two first come to be familiar with one another’s work?

MO: For years I read about – and watched – Jeff Krulik’s various films. A mutual friend finally set up a meeting in 1997 and we’ve been fast friends and collaborators ever since.
JK: Mark said it best, and we owe our late friend Ann Elsen a great debt for introducing us. We hit it off big time. And to top it off, our favorite movie is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which we both learned soon after we met. 
What makes your collaboration/partnership work?

MO: We both become intrigued with material that is often viewed by others as obscure, esoteric and outside the genera realm of popular culture. To us it’s just cool to dig into previously unexplored – or under-explored – topics and see what we come up with.
JK: I think we’ve always mutually admired each other’s works and interests, which span the spectrum of a lot of different things. We wind up circling back to some of our favorite topics: old PG County history, Frank Zappa, music in general, horse racing, weird and/or unsolved crime, i’m really tired, i’ve stayed up all night
What topic do you want to cover that you haven’t had a chance to?

MO: I usually finish one project and then another will eventually come to me when I least expect it. I do not actively seek out a particular topic to write about. The subjects find me.
JK: I’m nearly out of gas. But I have to finish this Bowie project, about where I grew up. You can read about it here
Do you have a favorite subject that you’ve covered? If not favorite, what about the most memorable? Why has it stuck with you?

MO: Local rock and roll history. It’s timeless and endless and can be explored, written about, and enjoyed forever.

JK: I don’t know if I can come up with a favorite subject, and with each one of my projects there is its own distinctive love/hate relationship with it. But you own them all like a kid I suppose, and love them the same warts and all. 
What is the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked about your work?

MO: The question – “Why?” I answer it “Why not??”

JK: I’m going to have to think about that question when I’m not delirious from exhaustion.
How is the storytelling process different depending on the medium you plan to use?  

MO: I just talk; Krulik talks and films it. The burden is on that guy!

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