Director Ramona S. Diaz and Arnel Pineda talk Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

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Tribeca Film Festival 2012
Director Ramona S. Diaz and Arnel Pineda talk Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

By Wilson Morales

April 26, 2012

It’s amazing how much the website Youtube has contributed to the music industry and introduce many people to the likes of Justin Bieber and Arnel Pineda. While Bieber has had success as a solo artist, not many know of Pineda; but he just happens to be the current lead singer of the classic rock group Journey.

At the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, the documentary ‘Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey’ follows the real life rock-n-roll fairy tale story of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from Youtube to become the front man for iconic American rock band, Journey, thereby becoming the latest performer to go from the Internet to real life celebrity. Having already overcome a life full of painful obstacles and now saddled with the immense pressures of leading a world renowned band and replacing a legendary singer, the film follows Arnel on this personal journey.

Blackfilm.com had the opportunity to speak with the film’s director Ramona S. Diaz and her subject, Journey’s lead singer Arnel Pineda about his road to stardom.

Where did you get the idea to make this documentary on Arnel?

Ramona S. Diaz: I heard about Arnel through this email I got about how he got his Visa because he was invited to the US to audition, but obtaining a Visa is always a problem. It was actually an email from the immigration officer who gave him his Visa. It was the funniest email ever because he had to sing for his Visa. Yes, he sang ‘Wheel in the Sky.’ At the bottom of the email was a link to Youtube of him singing Journey songs. It gave me goosebumps watching him sing and said to myself that someone has to make this story after I found out he got the gig. I emailed someone in LA and they told me to go for it. One thing led to another and got in touch with their management and pretty soon we were touring with them.

How do you feel about your life being told on film?

Arnel Pineda: I’m pretty much used to it. The only thing is that I’m not comfortable watching the aftermath. I can’t stand looking at myself in a video, but I don’t mind being filmed.

How receptive was the group about you making this film about Arnel and them?

Ramona S. Diaz: Very. They are a big band and they have a job to do. It’s a tour they are going on and we were another cog they had to deal with. I understood it. It’s big money. They have to do stuff very efficiently but thank God they came around and saw that we had a story here.

What was the most difficult part for you as the cameras were rolling on you?

Arnel Pineda: It’s freaky and weird that something like this would happen in my life, but thank God it’s happening. It’s divine intervention. I’m talking about inspiration and hope. I like to assume that this will give a lot of positive inspiration to those looking for an opportunity.

Any challenges during the production?

Ramona S. Diaz: It was challenging. There were so many things I left out and we had very few resources starting out. We were a crew of 5 crammed into this minivan with all of our equipment and luggage following this luxury tour bus all over the country. We’re trying to keep up with them. We worked all day and all night and drive the next day. We took turns sleeping and etc. That was challenging.

What was left out?

Ramona S. Diaz: So much! Where do I start. I have enough to make a film on Neal Schon, and another film on Jonathan Cain and the tour. But this story is about Arnel.

Of all the music to sing and groups to follow, why Journey?

Arnel Pineda: I think Journey’s songs are one of the most powerful songs in the world. Why not? I’ve come to love Journey since I was 12 years old and for me, I consider them as one of my heroes. They have influenced me a lot, especially Mr. Steve Perry. He’s got one of the most unique voices among the rock stars who have ever lived.

How good is Arnell compared to Steve Perry?

Ramona S. Diaz: I don’t know. I think he’s great in his own right. You can’t teach that kind of talent. You are born with it. Not only is he good but he’s a fantastic performer. He’s bringing in a new generation. Hats off to a band that’s never given up. They’ve just been touring. After Steve Perry, there was Steve Augeri for long years and now there’s Pineda. He’s bringing resurgence to their careers and keeping the music alive with today’s generation.

What’s your favorite Journey songs?

Arnel Pineda: Wow! There’s a lot, but if I had to pick some, I would say ‘Faithfully,’ ‘Winds of March,’ ‘Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever,’ ‘Patiently,’ ‘Lay It On,’ and ‘Escape.’ There are a lot of them,

How was working with Ramona?

Arnel Pineda: It was great. She’s such a wonderful director. I think she’s got one of the best professional attitudes that I’ve ever seen. She’s got this persona that you can’t deny her because she’s such a very convincing director.

Tribeca Film Festival World Premiere:
Thursday, April 19th at 9:30pm- BMCC Tribeca Pac
Additional Public Screenings:
Saturday, April 21st at 2:30PM-AMC Village VII 3
Friday, April 27th at 8:30PM-AMC Village VII 3
Saturday, April 28th at 9:30PM- SVA Theater 1


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