“Nothing is shocking when it comes to Ginger Baker.” That’s the sentiment of Jay Bulger, the director of “Beware of Mr. Baker.” The documentary is a gritty and honest look at Ginger Baker the infamous temperamental drummer for Cream and countless other bands. Not only do viewers hear the dirty story of Baker’s rise and fall, but the man tells the story himself and he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I had the opportunity to speak with the director about the film, the famed drummer, and what is next for the director.
In the film, you mention that you saw a DVD with Ginger Baker traveling across the Africa and that made you want to know more about him. What about that footage made you want to do a documentary on him?
Jay Bulger: It is not every day that you get to see a guy driving the first Range Rover ever produced on a whim from London all the way across the Sahara desert on route to Lagos, Nigeria. Ginger went there to play the drums with Fela Kuti and lived there for the remainder of the 1970s. Seeing Ginger become part of the African culture completely blew me away.
How long did it take you to make the film?
JB: It took me four years to make the film from inception to seeing it on a movie screen.
One thing I really liked about the film was the vivid and sometimes trippy artwork that played as the film progressed. How did you come up with the idea to have artwork as a replacement for footage that wasn’t filmed?
JB: Ginger was a mythical person and there is a side of him that was an exploration into that myth of who he really is. It wasn’t easy to really understand the reality of the situation especially when it involved conflict.
During the course of the movie, I feel that the audience goes through many emotions for Baker: pity, anger, wanting to have a drink with him; was this your intent? Are we supposed to feel a certain way for this man?
JB: I didn’t have any specific intent. I just wanted to tell an honest story and if people feel a range of emotions, then I succeeded. Ginger allowed me to tell the real story and there were no rules. It was completely transparent.
What was it like to actually live with Baker?
JB: The experience as a whole was surreal but the day to day was inspiring and terrifying. I was on my toes at all times.
Was there anything you found out or something that someone you interviewed said that shocked or surprised you?
JB: Nothing is shocking when it comes to Ginger Baker.
What do you want people to walk away with after they watch the film?
JB: I want people to gain a deep understanding of the highly complicated man who also happens to be one of the greatest musicians to ever walk the face of the earth.
Do you have anymore Baker related projects for the future?
JB: No, I feel like I really captured the true story of Ginger and there really isn’t anywhere to go from there.
After your experience with Ginger Baker, would you want to work with him again?
JB: I think the film was a project that showed all sides of Ginger and I am not sure there is any other aspects that I could explore.
How was it meeting and talking to all those legendary musicians?
I really enjoyed meeting all of these legends. They were very honest with me and with each person that I interviewed, it became a reaffirmation that what I was doing was what I was put on this earth to do.
What is the next step after this film? Are you working on anything new?
JB: Right now, I am working on a few different projects. There is a film that I am working on and I am also producing music. I just try to do things that make me happy and will continue to work on various projects that I feel are important and meaningful.
The next public screening of “Beware of Mr. Baker” is in Cleveland, Ohio at the Museum of Art on March 8. To learn more about the film make sure to visit Bewareofmrbaker.com. The film was made available on VOD via Snagflims as of February 26, so make sure to download a copy if you want to be sucked into the wild world of Ginger Baker.