VALLEJO — Denny Tedesco has invested 17 years of his life to one project. Today, bringing his movie “The Wrecking Crew” to the big screen is almost an around-the-clock job.
“I never wanted to walk away. I’m more determined now,” Tedesco said of the film that tells the story of a group of studio musicians called The Wrecking Crew, who are behind some of the biggest hits of the 1960s. Among them was his father, the late guitarist Tommy Tedesco, as well as Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.
There was a hint of “I told you so” in his voice as Tedesco said there’s “that list of people who shot you down” and he hopes to be able to pay them back with an, “I’ll show you that your opinions were totally wrong.”
The idea for the film surfaced when Tommy Tedesco was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1996. He died a year later.
Tommy Tedesco was the guitarist for TV theme shows such as “Bonanza,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Kojak,” to name a few. He played with Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa.
“I have believed in this project since day one and I will believe in it until the end,” Denny Tedesco said of the film.
What Tedesco didn’t know was that the movie, which has been to several festivals, would consume such a big part of his life. It started out as a 14-minute documentary. People would tell him they wanted to see more.
He heeded those requests and by 2008 had a full-length feature film with more than 100 classic songs. Those tunes, Tedesco said, are the soundtrack of many people’s lives.
“It’s just amazing how people react to it,” he said. “It’s not just the music.”
Behind-the-scenes, right now, it is about the music. Tedesco has some bills to pay for music licensing rights and to the musician’s union. He still has to ante up for about 10 more songs. Among them is a ditty by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
“A cartoon is giving me problems,” Tedesco said, with a laugh. So far he hasn’t been able to connect with the folks who own the rights to the song.
Tedesco is paying off those bills with small screenings, such as the one Saturday in Martinez, Sunday in San Francisco and Nov. 3 in Vallejo.
He tries to find a sponsor in each town to help him cover travel expenses from his Southern California home to the venue. In Martinez, he partnered with the Alhambra High School drama department.
The film’s website also offers DVD dedications, where the donor chooses the song and writes a dedication. The dedications will be included on the DVD of “The Wrecking Crew.”
“My wife and I consider this the most expensive home movie ever made,” Tedesco said, with a laugh.
Once the fees and the union are paid off, he can begin distributing the movie.
“I know the film does well,” he said, based on the screenings he’s held.
This labor of love has also provided some insight for Tedesco about his father.
“I knew there was a lot of respect for him. I didn’t realize the intensity,” he said.
Tedesco works with the International Documentary Association, earning him nonprofit status.
“I can see the light. Now, I can’t stop,” Tedesco said. “If I get off the moving train, it’s over. You can’t get back on.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.