Monday, November 11, 2013

So What DID Happen to J.D.Fortune???? The Doc Chasing Fortune EXplains It All

Musician J.D. Fortune talks ‘Chasing Fortune’

Chasing FortuneNova Scotia native Jason Dean Bennison was a rock singer with some success when he was picked to front the Australian band INXS from 50,000 hopefuls. The reality show Rock Star: INXS changed his life profoundly. That was 2005. Now known as J.D. Fortune, he performed in front of stadium crowds around the world until 2011, when he was unceremoniously dumped; his name was removed from the band’s website and his emails weren’t returned for a year. Fortune launched an eponymous band but it didn’t last so it was back to his mother’s house in Nova Scotia. These days he’s trying to find his musical footing again. Filmmaker Andrew Nisker and a film crew followed him for 18 months – the result is the documentary Chasing Fortune. We chatted with Fortune about the film.
Why did you consent to do the documentary?
J.D. Fortune: I have to say through the experience touring with INXS that I never had a chance to express what I wanted to express and this seemed like a natural thing. Weirdness when the band fell apart, no direct quotes, I’m one man and INXS is a 30 year institution with lawyers and they don’t pull any punches.
Did you have any doubts once you’d started?
JDF: I felt like it was rushed and we could have spent more time to finish to get into TIFF and I asked them to film for six more months to show that things were turning around. Not to end with questions. It’s your own life up there; you want it not to end with questions.
Did you set any limitations?
JDF: We agreed on most of it. Andrew had interest from Super Channel based on my name and what I’ve done as a Canadian artist and where I have been with what bands and what I want to do. Andrew approached me and I said we’d be partners and I’m going to have less to say, but morally I didn’t want anything that painted in a way that was disrespectful. You know how one picture is worth a thousand words. Some shots were edited in with others that were filmed months apart and looked like they were just moments apart. I had some kind of control. Andrew’s a great guy – he had my back. He said he’d cover my ass.
Do you like the film?
JDF: I love the film, the main thing for me is that it documents how powerful my connection with my grandfather was and the music, that’s what I carried with me during the TV show, touring with INXS and I carry it still. Two homes on our property both burned down and that’s documented. I’m glad. I grew up there. I know I seemed antsy, but I had nowhere to go, no more anything. Since that house burned I had until now to get everything in line. I dragged the crew through a year and a half and that’s why this documentary will put mum’s head at ease. She’s proud and happy and she gets to see her son under the microscope and it was about my experience, not a three ring circus, just Andrew and two camera guys over 18 months when my dream was putting together a band and recording and touring. Well two out of three happened.
Any downsides?
JDF: There’s [people involved with Rock Star: INXS] interviewed right at the beginning who knew me for three and a half months 7 years ago, and here they are seven years later being interviewed about me. But I guess that’s show business. It’s not a life story. That was almost a decade ago and they’re talking about me as a person. He knew me as a guy competing for his life to be in this band. She saw me in Toronto, standing in line with hopefuls and now she’s an expert on who I am. Imagine not seeing someone for ten years and they show up to do This Is Your Life? Really? Is this the right film? Oh, yeah, I remember that guy because of his hat.
Did you have any say in the final edit?
JDF: Yes. In fact I had a concern at the very beginning. The original version was sterile, clinical with a real documentary feel. I said they could use my home footage, but INXS wanted a lot of money to use 8 seconds. That was disgusting, thanks a lot guys. They screwed me again. Another slap in the face. We couldn’t even use Pretty Music, my voice, but no music. It was bonkers. So I gave Andrew home footage which is the opening 9 minutes of the film and we put together an interesting story which will bring my fans closer to what I am.
There’s a wonderful moment when you open your storage locker in LA. You’re broke, hungry, and dirty and you find clean clothes and money and you’re overjoyed.
JDF: It’s amazing what you can be grateful for. I used to say I could do without the necessities with a few luxuries, but it was so good to have clean socks! There was so much hoopla about the show six years ago I got lost in the three ring circus and Jason Fortune became JD Fortune and next thing you know musicians I liked, who were heroes to me, treated me like I didn’t belong. I didn’t understand that. I thought I’d be in the band the rest of my life. Even today when I’ve matured if they asked me back I’d say “Sure why not?” This is just entertainment, it isn’t curing cancer. I saw what it takes to be a celebrity and to be recognized and how fame makes you a product. I was becoming a spoiled kid when I was in the band and I managed to escape with my life.
Any bitterness?
JDF: I can’t speak for them but there are certain things we have as a responsibility for and to each other to treat people with respect. It boggles the mind how respect is lacking in the music, TV and film industry. Music industry people are raped and pillaged and their expectations are killed time and time again to the point where they’re being groomed to be assholes because that’s what it takes. There is no more heart in performance, there’s nowhere to go once you’ve had Miley Cyrus simulating oral sex on a hammer. So they’ll go to rock and roll and Nirvana and they’ll say “OMG they’re so different!” Three chords again!
You have had more stresses than a lot of people – the big TV win, the career and the end of INXS and false starts. How did that affect you?
JDF: It’s definitely made me stronger. The whole experience is leading up to something for me, I’m still carrying as much energy and passion as I did the first day I discovered I could sing, singing has been my blanket and best friend and companion and wife and ex-wife and wife again and my children. I am grateful to be in a position to make music. I just don’t believe in hit songs. Songs should just be great songs, and not have to prove anything. Today there’s an emphasis on what’s around that, like an artist getting 180M YouTube hits. I’ve read articles about companies hiring university students to sit there and click all day long on things they want promoted. I’m thinking of closing it all down, Facebook and Twitter and what have you. I just want to say “Come and see the band”. The great thing about a live show is you can’t download. That’s the other thing I carry in my heart. When a show is done properly, with great musicians playing, the world just opens up and everybody is part of it.
You’re producing new music now?
JDF: I’m working with Down with Webster’s James Robertson in Toronto. We’ve written three songs and we’re working on a fourth. The first is “We’re Still Here”, which is like my first album, after the [Hurricane Sandy] documentary about losing your house, your friends, money and going into bankruptcy. All you have is black and grey and that’s all you have to paint pictures. Now my colours are bright and in your face. Robertson’s a production genius. Since INXS producers didn’t know what to do with my voice… I’m not your average sounding pop radio guy. I have to be careful not to sound too heavy. We have a nice eclectic feel. There’s another song, “Warrant for Your Arrest”, which sounds like Elton John on cocaine. “We’re Still Here” sounds like Michael Jackson and David Bowie.
Editor’s Note: INXS broke up in 2012 after 35 years.
Chasing Fortune screens at The Royal in Toronto on Monday, November 11 at 7 p.m. J.D Fortune will attend a Q&A following the screening along with director Andrew Nisker and producer Karen Bliss. Tickets to the event are $20, which includes a free download of the film once it becomes available digitally. The film premieres on Super Channel across Canada on November 12. For more information, visit

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