The Guest List


February 20, 2003

Fates of the innocent and guilty collide in a small New England town when pyrotechnics from an 80’s rock band spark America’s deadliest rock concert.

The Guest List is an epic human-interest story planned for release as a six-part SERIES.  The DOcumentary explores the aftermath of the horrific, but much forgotten, Station nightclub fire.  On February 20, 2003 America’s deadliest rock concert began in West Warwick, Rhode Island, when the band, Great White, ignited pyrotechnics inside a run-down roadhouse.  The resulting conflagration killed 100 persons and grievously injured many others.  It could fairly be said that music and rock culture drew one hundred innocent people to their deaths in the Station Fire.  The Guest List explores how that same music and culture became sources of healing and comfort, at least for some, in the years thereafter.

Many victims of the Station Fire had been seduced by the siren song of rock celebrity. They met Jack Russell in the local Denny’s, a nearby motel or at a tattoo parlor, where he generously added their names to the show’s guest list. For many of those passionate fans, what appeared to be their very luckiest day turned out to be their last.  Weeks after the fire, the actual charred, handwritten guest list was recovered from the club’s ashes. 

The film contrasts Jack Russell’s post-fire journey, in a search for redemption, with survivor Joe Kinan’s rebirth, courage and inspiration. Along the way, we meet other survivors and victims’ families who have memorialized their loss through pursuits ranging from an exhibit of commemorative body art to re-immersion in the rock culture that initially brought them and their loved ones to the Station nightclub.  Throughout this journey we discover what many feel was legal injustice within local and state government. 

The series addresses timeless themes of personal responsibility, acceptance forgiveness and redemption.  Its central characters struggle to cope in the aftermath of tragedy – some gracefully, and some less so.  It is an object lesson in the tragic potential of poor decisions. Young people will always be attracted to live concerts.  And bands, promoters, and concert venues remain tempted to cut corners for cheap spectacle.  The Guest List remains timely, years after the station fire tragedy, because nightclub fires remain a hazard.  The Guest List is based in part on John Barylick’s narrative non-fiction work, killer show, the station nightclub fire, America’s deadliest rock concert.

Director David Bellino has obtained unprecedented access to Jack Russell in the years following the fire, as he was simultaneously accepted into Joe Kinan’s extended family.  The result is poignant footage contrasting these two very different life stories. Not only was a news videographer inside the club on the night of the fire, but news crews were on-scene within minutes. Between that contemporaneous news video and Bellino’s human-interest exploration of the fire’s aftermath, The Guest List is a strikingly visual story.  No one who watches The Guest List will enter a concert venue again without first checking for the exits.

 

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Director statement


In 2013, I set out on a journey to tell the story of the Station nightclub fire.  As it turned out, there would be no such thing as “the” story of what happened in Rhode Island.  The question was through which lens would each of us view the tragedy?  But, no glass was perfect enough for every eye to perceive the same image.  Soon after my first lunch meeting with my co-producer John Barylick, civil attorney and author of the book Killer Show, I learned that the who, what, where, why and when of the event was simply overwhelming.  So, the only rational approach was to build the narrative for which I would become as personally and emotionally vested as the family members and survivors who would soon place their faith in me.  Before our cameras rolled, building trust and long-lasting friendships must be the first true milestone, as it would consume the initial two years of story development.

Along the road, I learned there would be no right way, no wrong way, and no pleasing everyone.  In fact, there would be no way to avoid igniting anger in some who I may never know yet owed admiration and respect.  Would I be accused of opening up old wounds, peeling off hardened scabs or even lending a sympathetic ear for some of those responsible?  while a part of the L.A. film and music industry, I was also a born-and-raised Rhode Islander.  this inner conflict would resonate to this day.  At the cross-roads, I asked does this project make sense to me anymore?  Is it worth the possible consequences?  I would either need to let go and walk away or find the resilience and determination to continue.  But, I soon understood that it wasn’t just me anymore, it was we.

Many ask why tell this dark story?  And, why now?  My participants so eloquently said “it’s the soundtracks of our lives… it’s the one thing in life we all have in common… it brings us all together…it touches your soul… that's why all those people were there”.  They were referring to music.  The great irony was that this same music these fans loved led them to their tragic deaths.  This would be the premise upon which this emotional and sometimes disturbing voyage would be built.  It shouldn’t matter the genre of music, for we are all the same at heart.  And, music is timeless.  

It is music and the memories it incites that cuts through the darkness when tragedy has taken our light away.  But, it was the words of one of my principal subjects that became the “why?” It will always resonate with me and continues to give me the strength and courage to finish the journey we started.  “I am so afraid that one day people will forget them. So, thank you for making this film.” 

David Bellino
Director, THE GUEST LIST

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FEATURED PARTICIPANTS

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JOE KINAN

"I Tell her (my child) NOW, while I'm still here, it's very short and very simple...never give up"

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PAULA MCLAUGHLIN

"Station ink made the 10th anniversary of the fire more than just a number, it helped us heal"

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SANDI ARENAS

"my husband SKOTT called me that day and said i'm gonna be tattooing the lead singer of Great white"

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Scotty Dunbar

“ Life has two rules:
# 1 never quit
# 2 always remember rule #1"

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MIKE RICARDI

"Jimmy and I were like little kids that night, anticipating our first interview with jack russell"

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VIKKI Eagan

"some of us were lucky enough to survive, and i'm not going to waste this second chance"

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JOHN BARYLICK

"as a lawyer, I'm in the blame game. i don't have time to be particularly charitable to thoSe responsible"

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JACK RUSSELL

"my career has been defined by great moments and then me self-destructing"

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DON DOKKEN

"the 80s were wonderful, but everyone took a turn for the worse"

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MICHAEL SWEET

"its the one thing we all have in common, it touches your soul, its why alL those people were there"

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Lita Ford

“these are the soundtracks of our lives”

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EDDIE TRUNK

"Ri radio is still considering running your show, but you have to promise to never play great white"

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PRODUCERS

 

DAVID BELLINO
DIRECTOR / Producer

David Bellino launched his career as a music video director at the peak of the rock music scene on LA’s Sunset strip.  He was soon hired to direct the Rolling Stone’s Voodoo Lounge interactive experience, a first-of-its kind product produced by Virgin Records.  David continued to work for top record labels and film studios, as Producer for the enhanced soundtrack for the Flipper movie.  He has continued his work as a director and producer, having served a variety of entertainment clients including BMG, Sony, EMI/Capitol, MCA/Universal, Lionsgate, as well as corporate and government customers like Hasbro, VISA, Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, JPL/NASA and the U.S. Navy.

In 2013, David founded Left of Creative, a production company that would serve a customer base of entertainment, corporate and government.  After spearheading numerous projects over the years and working with a variety of top artists and companies, LEFT OF CREATIVE has launched an original productions division that will focus on original development and production of documentary, unscripted and scripted content.  The Guest List, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert, will be The Company’s first feature-length documentary release in the fall of 2018.


JOHN BARYLICK
PRODUCER

John Barylick is an attorney who represented victims in wrongful death and personal injury cases arising from the Station nightclub fire.  His work was instrumental in amassing 176 million dollars in settlements from persons and corporations responsible for the fire. John graduated from Brown University and Boston University School of Law.  His practice concentrates in medical and scientific litigation. He is a Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law and an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University School of Law. Mr. Barylick is the author of the book KILLER SHOW, is a frequent presenter at fire service, event safety, and legal seminars and is the recipient of the 2006 Rhode Island Trial Lawyers Association Award for Professionalism.


Bryan O’Connell
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Bryan O'Connell started his career working for the Head of the Motion Picture Literature department at United Talent Agency, then continued his graduate work in Producing at the prestigious American Film Institute (AFI).  As VP of Development at Tri-Hughes Entertainment, he developed numerous film and television projects.  O’Connell facilitated a major partnership with Tommy Hilfiger and Sprint for Intellectual Artists Management and was soon identified as the Head of Branding and SVP of Intellectual Opportunities. As a result of a merger in 2015, O’Connell was an instrumental in launching the Los Angeles office of Primary Wave.  

In 2016, he produced WHEN THE STARLIGHT ENDS directed by Adam Sigal. In 2017 O’Connell sold the first family endorsed Limited Series on the REAGANS to USA Networks as Executive Producer alongside Patti Davis (daughter of Ronald & Nancy).  O’Connell currently has 2 feature length documentary films in production at major networks; JUDY & I, based on the life of Judy Garland for SHOWTIME and BEFORE THE WORLD MOVED IN for A & E Networks. O’Connell’s current slate of projects include THE COLONEL, a limited series based on the life of Harland ‘Colonel’ Sanders, a scripted series MONSTERS NEXT DOOR.  Other projects include a limited series on the life of the legendary Natalie Cole, a documentary film about the misconduct of the NASDAQ corporation following the economic crisis and collapse, as well as numerous other original and intellectual property-based projects.


Eric Baker
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Eric Baker, a 30-year music industry veteran, began his career at MCA/UNI and then A&M Records, in radio promotion. Eric worked closely with many artists including Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler and Soundgarden. Subsequently, he became Director of Promotions at RCA in Los Angeles, working with Dave Matthews and Christina Aguilera.   Eric then moved to Roadrunner Records as Director of National Promotion of Alternative, where he spearheaded the radio success of Slipknot and Nickelback.

In 2003 Eric founded NewBreed LLC, a boutique marketing and management company, and created the M3 Rock Festival, a premiere 80’s metal festival in U.S., attended by over 15,000 people each year.  His clients included Oakley, Kohl’S, Starbucks, Adidas and Castle Light beer. His artist management roster includes Jefferson Starship, Cold, Powerman 5000 and Dokken.  In 2016, Eric entered a joint venture agreement with powerhouse Primary Wave Entertainment as a partner in music management.


David Aldrich
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Mr. David J. Aldrich has served as Chairman of the Board and Executive Chairman of Skyworks Solutions, Inc. since May 2016. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer from May 2014 to May 2016 and as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a director from April 2000 to May 2014.  He served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Industries, Inc. since April 2000. He joined Alpha Industries, Inc. in 1995 as Treasurer.  Mr. Aldrich was named the 2004 Ernst & Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year in the Semiconductor category. In 2014, Mr. Aldrich was named CEO of the Year by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. Mr. Aldrich holds his M.B.A from the University of Rhode Island and B.S Degree in marketing and political science from Providence College.


Daniel Zirilli
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Daniel Zirilli is the founder of Popart Film Factory and has directed and/or produced/written over 50 feature films and 250 music videos. Zirilli recently was a producer on Guns N’ Roses related film “It’s So Easy & Other Lies” It’s So Easy and Other Lies” based on the book by Duff McKagan as well as producing projects for The Rolling Stones, Three 6 Mafia, Michael Jackson, Michael Nesmith (The Monkees) and many other legendary recording artists. Zirilli is currently producing a Feature Documentary film based “The Grapes of Wrath” by legendary author John Steinbeck, featuring James Franco.

Zirilli directed and/or produced a slate of four films for Lionsgate films/Grindstone - and has put close to 100 feature films into worldwide distribution representing other filmmakers. Two action films Zirilli directed are currently on NETFLIX, Zirilli has written or co-written 20 feature films that have been produced, as well as produced music videos for Russell Simmons film “The Show” for Def Jam.  He has worked with artists such as NWA, Cher, Danzig, Three 6 Mafia, Redman, Montel Jordan, Master P and other Grammy Award Winning Artists.


CHRIS CHAOS
Associate Producer

As a Rhode Island native and radio DJ since age 15, Chris has earned high accolades as an award-winning on-air radio talent, program director, emcee “hype-man”, concert promoter and former rock nightclub owner. In the 80's, Chris continued on air and filled weekends as a roadie for regional punk rock kings "Big World", and toured with the band who supported national artists Iggy Pop, The Tubes, Joan Jett, Plasmatics and Johnny Thunders (N.Y. Dolls).

Throughout his four-decade career, CHRIS continues to “see America one radio station at a time" from Portland to Providence, Tampa & Ft. Myers to Columbus, GA and numerous other cities along the way.   CHAOS continues to add to his long list of interviews with artists and Hall-of-famers like aerosmith, Slash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, The Band, Ace Frehley, Stephen Stills, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Rob Zombie, Styx, Soundgarden, Puddle of Mudd, Alice in chains, Tesla, Warrant, Alice Cooper, Seether, Avenged Sevenfold, JackYl, Godsmack, Bob Welch, Kansas, Pearl Jam many others.

 
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