'Journey' director dishes on filming lead singer Arnel Pineda
The documentary “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” which plays this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival, follows Filipino Arnel Pineda’s meteoric rise from aspiring YouTube videos-uploading singer to Journey frontman. Filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz took some time out from her busy schedule to answer some of our questions about the movie
Did you come at this story originally from a connection to Journey or from a connection to the Philippines? Having been born and raised in the Philippines, I came to the story because of my connection to the Philippines and to Arnel. But the magic of the story is Arnel with Journey, Arnel's personal history set against the backdrop of big, familiar, anthemic ballads.
Were you surprised that a veteran band like Journey would be so open to chronicling what's going on behind the scenes? They were reluctant at first. Understandably so. When they go on the road, they're a big act with a lot of moving parts and they leave nothing to chance. They're a well-oiled machine. Our joining them on the road meant that we were one more thing for them to think about. But eventually they came to realize that we were not ABC or NBC or one of the big networks who would join them for a few hours and then disappear. We were also extremely persistent and we just kept showing up. They just got used to us being around and grew to trust us.
How did you see Journey evolve as a band with the addition of Arnel? I think they've become a more international band. It surprised me to find out, given the years they've been around, that they hadn't really toured abroad extensively. They've also expanded their fan base to include Filipino and Filipino Americans. That's new as well.
How is Arnel received in the Philippines now? As Chuck the security guy says in the film, "Arnel is like Elvis to the Filipino people." It's so true.
What's your favorite Arnel-fronted Journey song? I'd like to say “Change for the Better” because it reminds me so much of the Revelation Tour in '08, which we filmed. But I feel a special affinity toward “City of Hope” because it is the song that Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain wrote about Manila and it is also a song I witnessed evolve from its inception to its eventual recording.