Being a music obsessive at a music festival – you can try to sum it up in words, but they always fall short. Being so far removed from everyday life – on a polo field in the middle of the desert, in a muddy puddle in Somerset, or bouncing venue to venue in Austin – those festival grounds quickly become your new reality. There’s those of us who try to capture that feeling, either through images or words. Then there’s someone like James Marcus Haney. In the documentary No Cameras Allowed, Haney recounts his tales of sneaking into numerous festivals and the relationships that were strained and ultimately solidified along the way.
As a music photographer, I can say that I, and many of my peers, had reservations about Haney’s sly methods when we’d worked so hard to obtain proper media accreditation. But with an open mind, I made my way to the Wiltern in Los Angeles for the screening – and I’m happy to say those reservations dissipated within the first five minutes of the film. Not only is Haney a music fanatic, he is an engaging storyteller with a spectacular eye.
Throughout the music photographer community, particularly in blog posts, many have made arguments against the film. Some going as far as to say that it’s all a hoax, that Haney couldn’t have possibly gotten in the way that he did. However, after reading many of their responses, it’s clear that the posters have seen nothing of the film beyond the trailer, which does a poor job of giving the full story.
Bottom line is that Haney has a lot of guts, charm, quick-wits, and talent. The young, former-USC film student has exactly the right mix of all of the above for this film to be a successful story. Had he returned with sub-par images and video, it’s hard to say that this film would have ever seen the light of day.
Following the screening we were treated with the sweet night cap of a four-song acoustic set by surprise guest Young The Giant. While it was speculated that the guest would be Mumford & Sons, YTG received a warm welcome.
No Cameras Allowed will be screening around the country and will soon be airing on MTV. One piece of advice to all those naysayers out there: Go see the film and educate yourself before making any quick judgements. You’ll be surprised.