The name Dan Catullo may not be a name on everyones lips, but he is the man behind the band when it comes to video and audio recording of a concert. The world has changed a lot from the days where you just smuggled a cassette recorder into a Grateful Dead concert. Dan Catullo is a wheel in the world of audio and video, his latest opus is the very soon to be released two DVD and CD boxed set featuring The Steve Miller Band.

Most interviewers seek out interviews with the ‘Stars’, but sometimes it is more revealing to talk to the people that make them ‘Stars’. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk with Dan Catullo,  Director and Producer about Steve Miller, and life in general.

Do I call you Daniel or Dan?

Well if you are being official it is Daniel, but if you are being friendly it is Dan.

Oh I am being friendly, so ‘Hi Dan’.
You have an impressive resume. But lets start with your involvement with the Steve Miller band. The visual and audio quality is spectacular. How did you get involved with this project?

Thats a great story. In 2006 we were set to video Nickelback at the Sturgess cycle fest. I was in my tour bus and noticed Steve Miller walk by. I introduced myself, we had all the gear set up, and the opportunity to film this great artist was too good to turn up. I talked to Steve, we worked out a deal, and after 6 hours of listening to the band, figuring out shots and camera angles, we were all set. Steve Miller is a class act, he wasn’t expecting us, well, we weren’t expecting him. Life looked good until about an hour before the concert. Thunder lightning and rain put an end to any chance of playing or taping. I packed up the gear and crew and I thought that was the end of any chance of filming this music icon.

It was some five months later, when out of nowhere we get the invitation from Steve, to be involved with the Chicago festival, “I haven’t forgotten about you”, he explained. A few flights and meetings later, we were all set.

Can you tell us a little about the technical aspects (we have some technophiles as readers)

We used 17 Panasonic  HD cams, Vericams, to be exact, we had a great setup, in fact Steve Miller liked it so much he kept the LCD screen we had on stage. You can see it on the DVD, it is that huge LCD in the middle of the stage. The entire concert was filmed in high def.

We also used two jibs, two dollies, and we had one cam, wire mounted and remote controlled. That could run anywhere, from over the stage, to 100 yards back. This is the same technique used in TV coverage of NFL games, they have a cam that can run the length if the field.

However, if you really want to get technical, we used 34 cameras, because we repositioned them all for the second day of shooting.

It is one thing shooting two evenings of concert, it is an entirely different thing producing the finished product. How long did it take to edit and get this into a shape for market?

It was surprisingly quick. The day after we finished shooting we sat down with Steve and selected the best versions of the songs from the two shows. About 65% of the finished product came from the second day. Steve was much more relaxed and comfortable in the surroundings on the second day.

From the DVD The Steve Miller Band come across as being pretty nice people, were they easy to work with?

Without a doubt he is in the top 3 of performers I have worked with. And I won’t tell you who the other two are. He is a great guy, and very generous. I’ll give you an example, my associate had a back problem, Steve put him up at his own house, and when surgery was needed, he even extended his hospitality to his wife. Not many performers would that.

I was doing some research on you, the internet is a wonderful tool. You have been involved in many projects, and many of those projects have involved the creme d la crème of the music world. Do you have a favorite?

They are all my favorites, each one for different reasons. I grew up in New York, I had seen concerts in Central Park, but never thought I would be involved in one. The Dave Mathews Band played to an audience of 100,000 and we put the production together in a week. Now that was pressure!

Rush in Rio was another 100,000 audience adventure. And I cannot forget Godsmack, they were the first true production that I did, and now we have 5 DVD’s under our belt with them alone.

About the only gig that isn’t my favorite was Marilyn Manson, lets just leave it at “we had creative differences”. He was a handful!

Again relying on my secret sources (Google) I find out you are also a restaurateur. That seems an odd combination.

Yes I do have an interest in a Hollywood restaurant. But I also have interests in a number of other ventures. Mel B, who you likely better know as Scary Spice of the Spice Girls and I own a recording studio, and it is one of the best there is, very ‘state of the art’. Britney Spears was there last week.

I also manage Mark Ballas of Dancing With The Stars, and I think he is going to win! Oh and I have a couple of ‘Reality TV’ endeavors. We are currently working with Bai Ling and her boyfriend Damion Elliot. Now I don’t generally like the ‘Reality TV’ genre, there is nothing real about scripted reality. But we don’t need a script with Bai Ling, we just let the cameras roll, she takes care of the rest.

Sometimes I wonder how I find time to sleep.

Dan, I want to thank you so much for taking time out to chat with me. And if you ever make it up to the frozen tundra of Calgary I do hope you will let me buy you lunch.

Simon Barrett

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