Patrick Stark could wrap six-year journey Friday night
by Francois Marchand, Vancouver Sun
If all goes according to plan, Patrick Stark will face his biggest fear Friday night and conquer it.
The 47-year-old filmmaker and father of two is slated to join U2 on stage to complete a six-year-long documentary project that began at the Irish band's last visit in Vancouver in 2009, when he sang at a pre-show event he set up near BC Place, hoping to attract their attention.
His idea was to confront his biggest fear -- singing on stage in public -- in one of the most intimidating settings possible. The end game was to sign with the band itself, on their stage.
Crazy? Yes. Absolutely bonkers.
In fact, Stark has since been told by several U2 associates it would never happen.
For the past six years, Stark interviewed an array of people including U2 producers Steve Lillywhite and Daniel Lanois, spiritual author Eckart Tolle, and musicians like Bif Naked and Trooper's Ra Mcguire (who had Stark join his band on stage at the PNE in front of 7,000 people last year) for his One Life No Regrets documentary dealing with his phobia of public singing.
He travelled far and wide, had therapy sessions, sang in front of hundreds of people, and accomplished most of the goals he originally wanted to conquer.
But there was still the unattainable final goal, which he figured he might have a slight chance to accomplish when U2 set up shop to rehearse in Vancouver ahead of their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour kicking off May 14 and 15 at Rogers Arena.
Despite having been in contact with a number of key members of U2's management and production crew, Stark knew the only way he would get the gig to wrap his film would be to talk to the band directly.
No small task, even with U2 being in town rehearsing. But then it happened.
"I was sitting having a glass of wine downtown (last weekend) and I looked at my phone," Stark said. "Facebook came up and somebody said, 'Hey Patrick. U2 just walked into the restaurant I'm in.'"
Stark made his way down to the restaurant, sat at the bar like a good patron, and ordered a drink. Eventually he summoned his courage and made his way to the booth where the band was sitting.
"It was like 'dead man walking,'" Stark said.
Stark said Bono stood up and greeted him, and that's when he made his pitch.
"I said, 'I've been working on this thing for six years. I'm a guinea pig in my own experiment of facing a fear of singing in front of people.' They were amused by that."
Stark explained his vision for the final scene in the film, where he sings with the biggest band in the world.
"And half a second later Bono said, 'Sure.' And that was it. I said, 'What do I do now?' And he said, 'What are you doing Friday night?' An assistant took me aside and took my information, so that's where it is."
No matter what happens Friday night, Stark is happy to complete the journey.
Making the documentary, which he said is clearly not a "fan film" (though he is a U2 fan), has been akin to conquering Everest.
"The point is that I'm not looking to feel what the band is feeling," Stark said. "Those are their fans and their people.
"People who are afraid of fire, to push to the extreme, will have themselves set on fire. This is me lighting myself on fire."
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