Rod Webber is an American musician, filmmaker, artist and actor. He was born in Boston Massachusetts, and graduated from Goddard College, VT, in 2001 with a dual degree in music and filmmaking. Previous to that, he studied fine art at The Rhode Island School of Design, and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts.
In his early music career he shared the stage with anti-folk acts Daniel Johnston (The Devil and Daniel Johnston) and Kimya Dawson, (former Moldy Peaches). But recently Webber has probably become best known for his improvisational films and documentaries, garnering him plenty of attention for his rapid-fire “manifesto approach” as described by various publications.
At 21, Webber began climbing the college music charts with Burned My Feet On Meat Street. Webber followed up Burned My Feet with his next big release, The You I Knew, which was praised as “a visionary mix of eclectic loops and off-beat, acoustic folk style.” He began a courtship with major labels like Columbia, Arista, and Universal Records, and soon parlayed his notoriety into a job as a morning-drive DJ at Boston’s #1 alternative rock station, WFNX.
Though he was able to rub shoulders with world-renowned rock bands who were guests on the show, Webber found his life at WFNX to be not all that he had hoped. Playing late night shows with his band and rolling out of bed at 4:00 AM to make it to the station eventually took it’s toll. So, when Webber’s manager Rich Van Vleet announced that he had booked a tour throughout the west coast, playing at a number of festivals, Webber packed his bags and waved WFNX goodbye.
While in California, Webber recorded much of Eastertown, and Paper Slipper Shuffle, which his hometown paper (The Weekly Dig) called “insidiously catchy.” He made stops in Alabama and New York, and eventually his musical ramblings lead to a short documentary with rock legend Bo Diddley, as well as a 45-minute concert documentary with Celtic-Rock band The Dropkick Murphys.
Webber has subsequently released several recordings, bridging a wide variety of styles and has been described as everything from “lyric-driven” to “sample-happy”, to “Dylanesque.” Regardless of whom you ask, his music career has been nothing less than eclectic.
In 2005, Webber directed Monkfish starring Lloyd Kaufman, and Doug ‘Tiny’ Tunstall, which debuted a work-in-progress cut May 11, 2005 at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston. While wrapping up shooting for the film, Monkfish star ‘Tiny’ Tunstall began his Quixotic campaign to unseat James E. Doyle, the Mayor of Pawtucket Rhode Island. This resulted in Webber’s 2008 award-winning documentary A Man Among Giants, which was called “an inspirational documentary” by The Providence Journal. Tunstall himself inspired the New York Times to write “Capture the dwarf-demographic on election day.” The film won the Choice Award at Ruff Cutz ilm Fest and Best Documentary at Southern New England Indie Film Fest.
On the down-side, a release of the final cut of Monkfish was put on hold indefinitely. After Tunstall was arrested in 2009 for creating a disturbance in a courtroom, Webber bailed him out of jail. Tunstall was subsequently committed to a prison mental-hospital, resulting in a year-long effort by Webber to have him released. Unsuccessful in helping Tiny’s case through legal channels, Webber released a new feature-length documentary, American Psych Ward about Tunstall’s unlawful imprisonment. After a week and a half of attention-grabbing headlines, and 4 days of packed screenings, Tunstall was released.
In addition to side-tracking Monkfish, Webber’s effort to have Tunstall released from prison indefinitely postponed the release of Northern Comfort, which he had shot with Greta Gerwig the previous year. The film was delayed until May 28, 2010, by which time, Gerwig had gone on to her mainstream acting career with titles such as Greenberg, Arthur and No Strings Attached. Despite the delay, Northern Comfort met with favorable reviews. According to the Boston Globe, “Webber and Gerwig create ornery sparks,” and The Weekly Dig called him the “Anti-James Cameron” as a result. The film also resulted in a “Best Feature” award from Southern New England Indie Film Fest.
Next, Webber began filming Milkweed, a drama starring Webber, Arthur Wahlberg (Mark’s eldest brother) and Ali Bell who helped him to produce Psych Ward, the year before. Again, despite Webber’s speedy filming technique, the film was delayed to promote the release of My America, a politically-charged drama which was shot in the spring of 2010 after the production of Milkweed began. The film had theatrical runs in Boston and Washington DC, The Boston Globe called the film, “a shocking drama on the subject of racism,” and was written about by The Detroit Free Press, The Washington Times, and several other publications.
Webber is currently working on the post-production for Milkweed.
REEL FEST BOSTON and REEL FEST DC
In 2009, Rod co-founded Reel Fest, an independent film festival in Boston, MA, designed to celebrate innovation and experimentation in film and music. After three successful seasons, a second branch is being opened in Washington DC, call Reel Fest DC.
-As a musician, Rod’s songs have charted on college radio throughout the United States and Canada.
-As a filmmaker, he’s directed dramas, comedies and documentaries.
-Outside his own projects, Rod has worked as a cinematographer, and has had a wide range of acting roles in a variety of films.
-Composed the soundtrack to the film Sweetie.
-Was the music producer for the 2010 Broadway musical Viva Los Bastarditos.