Hype! (1996) 1h 23min.

A documentary directed by Doug Pray about the popularity of grunge rock in the early to mid-1990s United States. It incorporates interviews and rare concert footage to trace the steps of grunge, from its subversive inception in neighborhood basements, to its explosion as a pop culture phenomenon. Hype! shows grunge from the point of view of people within the grunge scene, and attempts to dispel some of the myths of the genre promulgated by media hype, hence the title. The movie generally portrays the latter faction in a satirical way, though acknowledges that media hype helped to propel some of these obscure bands to fame, albeit briefly.


Filmmaker Doug Pray talks about his new Levitated Mass documentary as well as the rest of his body of work, which includes the documentaries ScratchSurfwiseArt & Copy, and more. We also did a short Q&A with Pray on Unframed yesterday. His Levitated Mass doc premieres tonight at LACMA as part of the LA Film Fest.

Caught last night’s screening of the “Levitated Mass” documentary at LACMA as part of the LA Film Festival.

The film was tremendous. It retells the unexpected sensation created in the Los Angeles Basin when land artist Michael Heizer - one of the most influential, uncompromising and frankly obsessed artists of the past few decades - finally realized one of his long-sought projects, “Levitated Mass,” on the grounds of LACMA a year ago. 

“Levitated Mass” involved moving a 340-ton rock from a Riverside County quarry some 105 miles by a winding path through 22 cities, then installing it astride a 400-foot-long trench on the LACMA grounds.

The film also looks at Heizer’s broader impacts as an artist beginning in the 1960s, the massive fundraising and engineering effort needed to finance and build the project and much more. 

And as a bonus, Deadline’s Pete Hammond hosted a Q&A afterward with producer Jamie Patricof (“Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”) and director Doug Pray. Pete’s on the left, Pray in the middle and Patricof on the left in this photo above. 

Pete and I also talked with Patricof for an extended period afterward. He’s not only the producer of Derek Cianfrance’s two notable recent films, but also Cianfrance’s manager. Patricof is, happily, also a quite a charming and thoughtful conversationalist about what’s happening in Hollywood these days. 

The financial risks Patricof and his colleagues) took to make this film happen were remarkable (it was just finished four days before the LAFF premiere, and is just starting to look for a buyer). Most importantly, Heizer had the legal right to kill the film up until the last minute if he didn’t like what Pray created.

When Pray shipped a “final” version to Heizer’s remote Nevada home three weeks ago, he could only hold his breath for days waiting for a response. Eventually, word came back from Heizer’s wife that the film was good, but Heizer wanted to substitute a batch of his own archival material for that used in the film. Pray spent much of the past couple of weeks working that material in, and agreed that it was a substantial improvement. 

Don’t know if this movie will get a pickup from a U.S. distributor, but it should. It’s surprisingly absorbing, talking not only about a distinctive artist and a formidable engineering and political job (getting approvals from all those governmental entities is daunting to think about) but also about the fundamental nature of art and sculpture and how we relate to it, or don’t, when it involves a really, really big rock.


Art & Copy

A documentary about advertising today and post World War II. I loved it considering that more than half the reason I watch Mad Men was the advertising aspect of the show.

Just the best documentary I’ve seen in a while.  Very atmospheric & intelligent.  Got a great education without feeling preached to.  Very inspiring and makes me want to get busy creating.  And where can I download or find info on the music performed by Idaho?   Thank you Doug Pray!!  Bravo!

Go watch this now!  Just do it!  Got Art & Copy?



Doug Pray’s film about Michael Heizer’s monolithic sculpture, “LEVITATED MASS,” will be screened at Guild Hall, East Hampton.

On view Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 5:30 pm ET.

LEVITATED MASS is the story of a rock star, the artist behind the sensation, a $10-million, 22-city tour, and the international media storm that ensued. Prominently displayed outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), land artist Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass gained worldwide recognition during its installation in 2012. Over 10 nights, a 340-ton solid granite boulder crawled through Southern California neighborhoods on a 294-foot-long, 206-wheeled trailer. Thousands of people came out to watch it travel through their communities. It is one of the only pieces of art in recent history to inspire such a reaction in pop culture. The film masterfully interweaves this artist’s biography, the dreams of a major museum, and the uniting of a city, examining the perennial question: What is art?

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with:
Michael Govan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Doug Pray, Director
Jamie Patricof, Producer

Website: Guild Hall | LEVITATED MASS
Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" (a film by Doug Pray- on DVD

A documentary about the a 340-ton granite boulder moved from a quarry to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that is the latest ‘land sculpture’ by one of America’s most exciting and misunderstood artists, Michael Heizer.

Officially available for purchase on December 16, 2014. But, if you order today you’ll save 35% and get your DVD in advance of release (shipping now!). Buy on First Run Features’s website or download on the iTunes store.


Must Watch: Art & Copy

A film by Doug Pray 


Singles came out when we were building momentum to try to film my movie. Cameron Crowe actually called me and tried to talk me out of making Hype! for 45 minutes: ‘What can you possibly hope to achieve? The scene has already reached its apex. It’s everywhere. People are tired of it. Please don’t do a movie about this.’
—  from my interview with Doug Pray, director of the Seattle scene documentary Hype!


Documentary film maker Doug Pray’s new film Art & Copy has turned it’s attention to the advertising industry, focusing on some of the greatest American advertising minds of the last fifty years to see what the inspiration was behind their best ideas.