In the ever-evolving world of entertainment, it’s safe to say that Allen Farst, a Dayton-based filmmaker and documentarian, has found his niche.
Farst — owner of local commercial video producer Niche Productions — recently interviewed three members of the Rolling Stones. At the end of the interview, he and guitarist Keith Richards were practically pals, he recalled.
They stood and posed for a photo together, with Farst mimicking Richards, allowing a cigarette to dangle loosely from his lips.
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Just another day in Farst’s life.
“Recently, it’s been a little crazy,” he said in a phone interview from a hotel room in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Farst is making a documentary about rock keyboardist Chuck Leavell, who happens to be a friend of his. That work is taking him to Europe, where he’s interviewing the likes of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and the aforementioned Rolling Stones.
But Farst, 46, remains firmly anchored to Dayton, where he and his wife Amy are involved with St. Vincent de Paul, which offers an array of local charitable services, including running two Dayton shelters. The couple co-chairs of the charity’s annual fund-raising gala, which is set for Saturday at Sinclair Community College’s Ponitz Center.
Farst has been involved with other charities, working with country musician Keith Urban, for example. But he feels the work with St. Vincent is special, and he is happy to shine a light on it.
“There are a lot of different reasons why (people) end up at St. Vincent,” the Washington Twp. resident said. “People just need a helping hand. And some of them just don’t have a helping hand.”
He believes that if St. Vincent is successful in helping its clients, Dayton will become “a better place,” he said.
“It’s a special little place that we have in Dayton,” Farst said.
David Bohardt, executive director at St. Vincent, said Farst does a good job of telling the charity’s story with his videos.
“He has done it on a pro-bono basis, which is a wonderful thing,” Bohardt said. Farst’s videos “have been a highlight of our event for the three times we have held it. I can’t say enough about his creativity.”
Often there’s no specific event in the economy that explains why the charity’s client numbers rise and fall, Bohardt said. St Vincent’s shelters recently have seen a “surge” in the number of children seeking refuge there — between 35 and 45 children a night — and there’s no immediate explanation, he said.
“The economy has been running away from the very poor, which is to say, the skill set required for sustainable employment in our economy is significantly different than, say, 10 years ago,” he said.
For Farst, work continues. For his documentary, he plans to to interview Stones frontman Mick Jagger and guitarist Eric Clapton. Also up for the documentary: actor Billy Bob Thornton, Sheryl Crow and a few other household names.
Said Farst, “Yeah, it’s been pretty good.”
Leavell joined the Stones in 1982 and has played with Allman Brothers, John Mayer and many others. Some time ago, Leavell suggested the documentary to Farst, who created a “pitch deck,” or an outline of how he would make the documentary.
Leavell and his agent a week later told him, “You’ve got the gig.”
Farst told him: “You have to open up the black book,” helping with access to Leavell’s famous friends.
The documentary has intersected with his work for St. Vincent. Leavell signed a Squier electric guitar for him — courtesy of Hauer Music in Centerville — that the charity will auction off.
Farst plans a “red-carpet event” in Dayton to debut the documentary after it’s complete. There are no concrete plans for distribution, but Farst talked briefly of perhaps selling the work to Netflix as a “Netflix original.” But that is just a concept at this point.
Said Farst, “In the end, you’re chasing Hollywood from Dayton, Ohio.”
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