To say that Kevin and Jerri Compton are Bruce Springsteen fans is an understatement on par with saying the Kentucky Derby is just a horse race. Or that the Beatles were a pretty decent little band.
They’re passionate devotees of the New Jersey rocker known to many as “The Boss.”
The couple have attended roughly 40 Springsteen concerts together since they started dating 20 years ago.
In fact, they’ve been to so many of his shows they’ve lost count and disagree on the actual number. Kevin says it’s 40; Jerri says it’s more like 43.
But the Comptons aren’t likely to ever forget the Springsteen-related experience they’re about to have.
They will be part of a new documentary film that explores the relationship between Springsteen and his fans. And, they will have the pleasure of watching themselves on the big screen close to home, since Ashland is one of the cities in which the movie will be making its special one-night-only premiere on Monday.
Cinemark Movies 10 will be one of 500 theaters in which the film, entitled “Springsteen and I,” will be playing. It will also be shown at the Cinemark theater at the Huntington Mall. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at both cinemas.
“Springsteen and I” is noteworthy in several respects. For one, it was executive-produced by Ridley Scott, director of “Alien,” “Blade Runner” and “Thelma and Louise,” among other cinematic classics. Also, it was first documentary to be made for wide theatrical release was “totally crowd-sourced,” Kevin Compton said.
“The entire story is told by the fans,” he said.
Kevin Compton, a communications and advocacy specialist at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, said the couple found out last year the producers were looking for submissions for the film. He and his wife talked about participating, but were skeptical about doing so mainly because they usually aren’t given to taking chances on long shots.
“I don’t enter contests, I don’t buy lottery tickets,” he said.
“I could tell by his little-boy eyes that he really wanted to do it, but there was reluctance,” Jerri Compton said.
The group rules for submitting were that the videos could be no longer than five minutes each, but each person could submit up to three. Each had to tell a story of some sort, and each had to be shot in a way that made them somewhat unique.
“They didn’t want people just looking at the camera,” Kevin Compton said.
The first video the couple made featured Kevin Compton telling the story of how he became a Springsteen fan. It was shot by Jerri Compton, who was lying on the floorboard of the couple’s Subaru with the camera shooting up at her husband as the two were traveling to their hometown of Logan, W.Va., to visit family.
In the clip, Kevin Compton talks about how he grew up in a very strict religious household where secular music — rock ‘n roll in particular — was strictly forbidden. However, he said, when he was about 12, the family was watching “The 700 Club” when host Pat Robertson began talking about Springsteen’s song “Born in the USA.”
Robertson obviously failed to listen closely to the lyrics of the song — a mistake many others have also made — because he misinterpreted it as a flag-waving patriotic anthem, Kevin Compton said. (Actually, it’s about the mistreatment of Vietnam veterans.) But, the televangelist’s comments were enough to convince Kevin Compton’s parents it was OK for their son to listen to Springsteen.
“That opened the door to Bruce’s music, and to the larger world or rock ‘n roll in general, for me,” he said. “He was the first artist I didn’t have to sneak around to listen to.”
In video no. 2, shot in the basement of their Cannonsburg home, the Comptons talk about their shared love of Springsteen from a couple’s perspective and how it has affected their relationship. And, with their final submission, the couple tell the story of how Kevin Compton finally came to meet Springsteen, thus capping a Don Quixote-like quest he’d begun years earlier.
“There are various photos taken of me over the years standing backstage at different venues clutching my ‘Born to Run’ album wanting to get it signed,” Kevin Compton said. “It finally happened in Detroit this past April, on my 40th birthday.”
Jerri Compton said she has also met Springsteen, in 1995 in Cincinnati during his “The Ghost of Tom Joad” tour.
The couple uploaded their footage to a website that had been set up for that purpose, and they waited. In January, Kevin Compton said he received an email from Ridley Scott Associates asking if he’d recorded the “700 Club” episode with Robertson talking about Springsteen and if he still had the tape. (He hadn’t, and didn’t.) That made him think the couple’s submissions weren’t going be in the movie. But, in May, their hopes soared once again when they received release forms in the mail formally granting the producers permission to use their footage.
Later that month, Kevin Compton said, the theatrical trailer for the film was released, and the couple knew they’d made the cut. In the preview, Jerri Compton can be seen, as can footage she shot at a concert at Louisville’s KFC YUM! Center of Springsteen crowd-surfing. Also, if one looks closely, the couple can be seen in a “Brady Bunch”-style collage at the end of the trailer, Kevin Compton said.
Since they haven’t seen the final cut of the film, the Comptons don’t know yet how much of their footage made it. But, seeing three bits of it in a 90-second preview gives them hope that a decent amount of it did, Kevin Compton said.
Even it’s only a few seconds, though, both said they are beyond thrilled to know their work was chosen from more than 2,000 submission comprising roughly 500 hours.
Jerri Compton, who was recently appointed director of the United Way of Northeast Kentucky, said she was hoping her participation in the project would help squelch a misconception she often encounters — that her husband is the true Springsteen fan and drags her to his concerts as an unwilling participant. She said she found that notion ridiculous, as well as “misogynistic.”
The Comptons also said they were giddy over the fact the movie has been shown to Springsteen, and that he is said to have liked it.
“As many times as we’ve gone to see him, now he’s seen us in some fashion,” Kevin Compton said.
KENNETH HART can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2654.