Q&A Scene: Benjamin Statler

About Soaked In Bleach:

SOAKED IN BLEACH reveals the events behind Kurt Cobain‘s death as seen through the eyes of Tom Grant, the private investigator that was hired by Courtney Love in 1994 to track down her missing husband (Kurt Cobain) only days before his deceased body was found at their Seattle home.

soaked in bleach Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide by the police (a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound), but doubts have circulated for twenty years as to the legitimacy of this ruling, especially due to the work of Mr. Grant, a former L.A. County Sheriff’s detective, who did his own investigation and determined there was significant empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred.

The film develops as a narrative mystery with cinematic re-creations, interviews with key experts and witnesses and the examination of official artifacts from the 1994 case.

 

Q & A with Soaked In Bleach director Benjamin Statler:

Tell us about the origins of SOAKED IN BLEACH?

The origins of Soaked In Bleach begins with the impact that Kurt Cobain had on my life.  Millions of fans, including myself, not only appreciated Kurt because of his incredible musical and lyrical talent but we also connected with Kurt as an authentic person who’s poetic ability often made it seem like he had stepped inside our worlds and expressed how we felt which made his music much more than entertainment. It was something we could hold on to and identify with, it was the expression of a culture that we wanted to be a part of as opposed to the one being imposed on us by the mainstream establishment.  This powerful influence that Kurt and his art had on millions of people was the very thing that empowered the profound discouragement of countless people that came with the news of his death in April of 1994.  It’s one thing when the leader of such a vast community dies of a freak accident or natural causes, but if that leader has chosen to call it quits and ends his own life, it’s quite a different kind of impact for all those who look up to him.  Unfortunately, in this case, the negative impact was so severe that it not only depressed thousands if not millions of people, but it actually led to copycat suicides, 68 of which we know of where the victims left notes behind referencing Kurt or Nirvana.

Through Nick Broomfield’s movie Kurt & Courtney, I learned about private investigator Tom Grant, who had been hired by Courtney Love to find Kurt only five days before Kurt’s body was discovered. Tom seemed to have had somewhat of a front row seat to some of the people closest to Kurt in the final days. I decided to research Tom Grant and was  immediately led to the website cobaincase.com and was blown away, not just because of the mountain of objective investigative points Tom had listed, which seemed to contraindicate everything I had been told about Kurt’s death, not just because of the actual audio recordings of his conversations he had with key people during the investigation which he had made available to the public on his website, but mainly because this revelatory information had not caught on in a much bigger way with the main stream.  Why had somebody not given this guy a bigger platform to share his story?  I immediately began planning how I could bridge Tom Grant’s story to the main stream by making a movie unlike anything that had been done before.

In 2011, I wrote an email to Tom Grant explaining what I had in mind.  He got back to me within a day and we set up a phone call which ended up lasting about 5 hours.  It was during this first phone call that Tom made it very clear what our goal should be for this movie, he explained that the bar was very low, we didn’t even need to convince anyone that Kurt’s death was homicide, we simply needed to raise enough awareness among the main stream to know that the cause of Kurt Cobain’s death should at this point be rightfully changed from suicide to undetermined in accordance with what can actually be found in the Seattle Police Department’s reports.  If the SPD were to change the cause of Kurt’s death from suicide to undetermined, the world would not let it rest until Kurt’s death was given a fair investigation.

The primary message of this movie is that the justice of a fair investigation which was due to Kurt had been soiled with gross negligence, doused in mud, and this botching of the investigation had been whitewashed with misinformation which continues to this day by the media, it was soaked in bleach.

 

What is it about this case that you knew it had to be told?

The truth.  The actual facts concerning this case which have nothing in common with what we were told by the media.

My main motivation for this project has become three fold.

The initial motivation was always for the world and especially Kurt’s fans and loved ones to know the truth concerning the manner of death in which Kurt died. I want to vindicate Kurt.

My second motivation, which came about after my research and the more I began to desire to vindicate Tom Grant.  Here was a man, who in the face of years of persecution and false accusations took a stand for truth and justice.

And finally, the third motivating theme in this movie has to do with the reality of media manipulation.  A lot of people have strong opinions and emotions about Kurt’s death.  Some people agree with my opinion about how Kurt died and some people disagree.  I don’t mind someone disagreeing with me.  What bothers me intensely is when their opinion is being based on misinformation.  Countless times, when I’ve had people tell me they think it was a suicide, after I ask them why, they rattle off the same old fallacies that have been proven untrue for years.  Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but I also believe everybody deserves the truth on which to base their opinion. What I hope people will take from Soaked In Bleach is the importance of researching things and to not be so quick to let the media mold our views.

What actually does not motivate me is the punishment for anyone who might eventually be found guilty with Kurt’s death.  I do believe that if someone was found guilty of murdering Kurt that society deserves to be protected from someone who operates like that but I just don’t view punishment of someone else as my job and I certainly don’t view it as something that will bring Kurt back.  It won’t restore all the art we were robbed of with Kurt’s untimely death.

How would you describe the tone of the film?

Soaked In Bleach is a docudrama. Half of the film is cinematic recreations of Tom Grant’s investigation in 94′ incorporating actual audio recordings, while the other half of the film is interviews with Tom Grant and some of the world’s top experts in the respective areas of the case. The recreations served the purpose of helping people to see how the investigation actually unfolded and to better appreciate the context of certain situations.  The interviews provide the objective scientific facts involved in the case of Kurt Cobain’s death and back up what Tom Grant has been saying for 20 plus years.

Describe your background in film making and what made you fall in love with it? 

I have worked with various companies and was an executive producer on Act Of Valor which went #1 at the box office and Comic Con Episode 4, A Fan’s Hope which was directed by Morgan Spurlock.  As for what made me fall in love with filmmaking, I can’t honestly say I’m in love with every aspect that is involved with the process of making a film.  There are some aspects of it that I really love and some aspects that I really don’t care for.  What I do love though is a really good movie, and the goal of making a movie that does justice to the story that I’m so passionate about is more than enough to keep me motivated.

You assembled an amazing cast of Seattle PD, forensics and people involved in the case, tell us about working with everyone. 

It was just an honor to have these people taking the time to be interviewed for the film.  It was already exciting when they said yes to being interviewed, but of course we didn’t know what they would actually say or share for the camera. It turned out that every one of them were pleasant surprises with some gold nuggets that they had to share regarding the investigation into Kurt’s death.  Hearing their views on different aspects of the case was often confirming to what I had already believed but in many cases it was also revelation.

With all your relationships how did you choose which specialists would be included in your film?

We simply wanted the most qualified experts for all the pertinent aspects of the investigation into Kurt’s death.

What other areas of the case did you wish could be included in the film? 

There were actually countless things from this case that I wanted to be able to include in the film.  The most difficult aspect in making this movie was having to exclude so many important points and events in order to serve the goal of making a tightly knit docudrama that could be released to a much broader audience.  If I had included every point I know of about this investigation the movie probably would’ve been at least five hours long and that just wouldn’t have served the goal of a making a splash in the main stream.  We did our best to make this movie comprehensive at least in the sense that it covers enough of the main points of Tom Grant’s investigation that it will hopefully serve as a gateway for people to go through and begin to research more extensively on all the details about this case for themselves.  This movie was never intended to be exhaustive.  I knew that covering all the important points from this investigation in a reasonably sized movie just wasn’t possible.

What was your favorite experience in directing this project? 

The moment that stands out in my mind is the morning when I walked into the sound stage at Red Studios, where the greenhouse recreation was being built to exact specifications, and it was going up so quickly, and I was just staring at it with some degree of disbelief, feeling so grateful for all the hard work that was going into building it. There’s no words to describe what I felt at that moment.

What can audiences expect from this film? 

Something that they have never seen before both as a movie and as a document touching on the circumstances surrounding Kurt Cobain’s death.

 

About Benjamin Statler:

SOAKED IN BLEACH is Benjamin Statler’s directorial debut.   He also wrote and produced the film under his production company Montani Productions.

Benjamin has been the executive producer on such projects as fan favorite Comic Con Episode 4: A Fan’s Hope and the fact-based Navy Seal thriller Act Of Valor. 

Soaked In Bleach, is the first in a trilogy of docudramas to be produced by Montani Productions. Ben will also be producing and directing other projects with Montani, which primarily will be based on true life stories.

Soaked In Bleach was released in U.S.cinemas earlier this year.  It is available for the very first time in Australia through Shock Entertainment on 7th October. For more information, click here.

About Mary Boukouvalas 836 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

5 Comments on Q&A Scene: Benjamin Statler

  1. It’d be nice to see a Soaked In Bleach Part II, where some things that were left out get put into a new film. Great work, Tom Grant.

  2. While I am in support of case and Tom Grants work, I think the main motivation for Tom Grant is the fact that he felt snubbed, humiliated, and disrespected by the SPD for his findings so it’s been his mission to stick it to them. That is the truth. I knew it would be a matter of time before I figured that one out. My reasoning for this is the fact that Tom Grant could give a shit about Kurt Cobain, he’s a complete opposite to Kurt and the majority of his fans and I am sure views Kurts fans as scum, that’s my impression. I don’t see him as a real compassionate person. He hasn’t got an artistic bone in his body and is about as anal retentive as they come. He’s not doing this investigation to be a hero to all Nirvana fans. His prime motivation is getting back at the SPD for the direspect shown to him and it has nothing to do with Kurt Cobain or Nirvana. It may have a little bit to do with the suicides but that’s it. He’s doing this to get back at the SPD, plain and simply.

  3. While I am in support of the case and Tom Grants work, I think the main motivation for Tom Grant is the fact that he felt snubbed, humiliated, and disrespected by the SPD for his findings so it’s been his mission to stick it to them. That is the truth. I knew it would be a matter of time before I figured that one out. My reasoning for this is the fact that Tom Grant could give a shit about Kurt Cobain, he’s a complete opposite to Kurt and the majority of his fans and I am sure views Kurts fans as scum, that’s my impression. I don’t see him as a real compassionate person. He hasn’t got an artistic bone in his body and is about as anal retentive as they come. He’s not doing this investigation to be a hero to all Nirvana fans. His prime motivation is getting back at the SPD for the direspect shown to him and it has nothing to do with Kurt Cobain or Nirvana. It may have a little bit to do with the suicides but that’s it. He’s doing this to get back at the SPD, plain and simply.

  4. Hope those 5 hours he talks about, that got cut from the movie, will be on the special features section. I’ve already watched it at least 5 times.

    Oh and Jay, (in the comments section) just because that would be your motivation does not mean that it is Tom Grant’s motivation.

  5. In response to Jays comments:

    Your comments are irrelevant. If someone was murdered and the case wasn’t investigated properly it really doesn’t matter what views you may have of the person bringing forth the information. The point is that the truth is told. The case reopened. As you stated you support Tom Grant and his work. What you feel about his person or personality is a moot point(s)

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