PARK CITY — Califone founder, guitarist and singer Tim Rutili said he was doing some research for a new CD called "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers" when it dawned on him to make a film and use the CD as a soundtrack.
"I was doing stuff on the Internet and interviewing people about superstitions," Rutili said. "I thought the new album was going to be about superstitions and had all this video I had done."
Once the songwriting started, another story began to unfold.
"I just went with it," he said. "Writing the story, script and songs fed off each other. It was a pretty organic process."
The film, which is also called "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers," is about a psychic adviser who taps into the spirits who live in her house. Eventually the ghosts rebel.
Throughout the creative process, Rutili never thought about entering the film in a festival. However, toward the end of the project, Rutili and his band — drummer Joe Adamik, violinist/banjoist Jim Becker and percussionist Ben Massarella, who appear in the film — felt they needed to send it off to be judged.
"We didn't think about anything but trying to make stuff that we liked," said Rutili. "But we thought we should send it to some people, and we sent it to a few other people. But Sundance was the (big) one."
The film already has a distributor and will be released next year,
In the meanwhile, Califone will be screening the movie at Sundance and will be performing the soundtrack live. (The band is schedule to perform Wednesday at 4:40 p.m. at the ASCAP Cafe, 751 Main, Park City.)
There are logistical challenges of playing live music with the film, said Rutili.
"We need to know what we're doing a little bit, and we do a good soundcheck to get all the sound balanced," he said. "We have a tendency to play really loud live. And during the film there are spots when we get really loud, and there are spots when we have to be very, very subtle."
Rutili said the only similarities between making a CD and filming a movie is the editing process.
"That's where everything came together for me, and that's where I felt most comfortable," he said. "Editing the film was much like making a record for me.
"The way we make albums is very loose. Sometimes we go in with no ideas and come out with something."
"Setting the shots up and shooting the film was very different because of the tight scheduling," he said. "We had specific things we needed to do."
Making a film was something Rutili always wanted to do.
"I love film," he said. "I spent so much time watching movies and I never thought that would ever do me any good. But all those millions of hours spent staring at those flashing images paid off, because I felt like I had a good instinct of putting a story together and telling a story in an interesting way."
And Rutili wants to make a second film.
"I don't know if I would do it the same way," he said. "But I feel like I have to do something like this so I can get it right.
"I have another film that I'm writing that is already burning a hole in my head, so I have to do it by hook or by crook to get it going."
If you go...
What: "All My Friends Are Funeral Singers," Califone
Where: New Frontier on Main, 333 Main, Park CityComment on this story
When: Tuesday, Jan. 26, 9 p.m.
Additional screenings: Jan. 27, 9 p.m., Egyptian Theater, Park City; Jan. 28, 2 p.m., Holiday Village Cinema, Park City; Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m., Broadway Center Cinemas IV, Salt Lake City; and Jan. 30, 3 p.m., Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City