Sublime Announces Documentary Film Deal With Two-Time Oscar Winning Director


Legendary Long Beach ska-punk band Sublime will be the focus of a 2018 documentary. Photo: CO5 Media

It’s been a year of big announcements for Long Beach ska-punk royalty Sublime. In March it teamed up with AleSmith Brewing Co. on a Mexican lager to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band’s release of 40oz To Freedom, and today Sublime announced it’s teaming up with a two-time Oscar winning director on a documentary project.

Bill Guttentag, who won an Oscar for best documentary for his 1988 work You Don’t Have to Die and 2003’s Twin Towers, will write and direct the film that’s slated for a theatrical release in 2018.

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The film will detail the band’s early beginnings, its rise to Billboard success and the band’s life after the loss of lead singer Bradley Nowell to a heroin overdose in May 1996. Guttentag is being granted access to some of the band’s unreleased footage and recordings and will work with the full blessing of both surviving members of the band, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh as well as the Nowell estate.

“I can’t wait to hand deliver our story to our fans,” Gaugh said in a release. “It has been a long-time coming and now there are literally two more generations of fans who never had the opportunity to see us perform, or don’t know the whole story. I am excited to work with Bill Guttentag, as I am a big fan of his work as well.”

With it being the 25th anniversary of the release of one of their most successful albums—40oz. to Freedom went double-platinum—the band decided the time was right for a documentary.

While the band has been active in recent years, reforming in 2009 as Sublime With Rome with Rome Ramirez taking over on vocals, the band has released two albums. However, none have reached the commercial success that helped secure Sublime’s spot in history as reggae-punk pioneers.

The band has sold over 17 million records since forming in the late 1980s where they began playing local clubs in Long Beach before rising to prominence in the mid 1990s. The film, which is set to begin production immediately, will include rarities from the band’s vault, and also include bands that helped influence their sound as well as contemporary acts that shared the stage with the trio.

“Sublime is an iconic band—and I feel honored to be directing this film,” Guttentag said in the release. “Few bands have had the enduring, electrifying appeal of Sublime. With our film we hope to bring Sublime’s amazing story and incredible music to their long-time devoted fans, and also connect to a new generation—who have also embraced their singular, powerful sound.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.