Athens, GA: Inside/Out

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Athens, GA: Inside/Out
Directed byTony Gayton
Written byTony Gayton
Produced byBill Cody
CinematographyJames Herbert
Edited byAdam Wolfe
Distributed byASA Communications
Release date
November 1986
CountryUnited States
A small church
The Seney-Stovall Chapel in Athens, Georgia, was where R.E.M. recorded two songs for the film.

Athens, GA: Inside/Out is a 1986 documentary film about the mid-1980s music scene in Athens, Georgia.[1][2] The film has been described as "the definitive portrait of the city's world-renowned music scene."[3]


Athens, GA: Inside/Out was the creation of Tony Gayton, a first-time director who recently graduated from the University of Southern California.[2] He was director, writer, and shot the documentary on the film.[1][3] The film was produced by Bill Cody.[4]

The film features interviews and concert footage of bands who were a part of the Athens music scene at the time, including well-known local legends R.E.M., Pylon, and The B-52's.[2] Other featured bands are the Bar–B–Q Killers, Dreams So Real, Flat Duo Jets, Kilkenny Cats, Limbo District, Love Tractor, The Squalls, and Time Toy.[1][5][6]

The documentary also features interviews with folk artists Howard Finster and Rev. John D. Ruth, whose wife plays the pump organ.[2][1][7] Athens poet John Seawright reads his work "I Broke My Saw" in the film. Storyteller by ORT (William Orten Carlton) is featured as the film's narrator.[8][9][6][10] Another local personality in the film is Walter Rittenberg, MB—master of barbecue and owner of Walter's BBQ.[7][11]


University of Georgia art professor James "Jim" Herbert, the film's cinematographer, says he selected the film's locations with director Gayton.[10] Herbert says "I pushed for the most interesting visually. Some were appropriate as factual locations the bands played in."[10]

R.E.M. was filmed performing "Swan Song H" and The Everly Brothers "Dream (All I Have to Do)" at the Lucy Cobb Institute chapel.[5][8][12] R.E.M. were also filmed performing in the Morton Building at 195 West Washington Street in Athens.[13] The Bar–B–Q Killers, Kilkenny Cats, and Time Toy were filmed performing at the Uptown Lounge on February 4, 1986.[11] Flat Duo Jets were filmed playing on the porch on a fraternity house at the University of Georgia.[14]

Mike Mills of R.E.M. and Mark Cline of Love Tractor were interviewed at Lay Park in Athens.[10] The Bar–B–Q Killers and Walter Rittenberg were interviewed at Walter's Barbecue on 1660 West Broad Street in Athens.[10][15] ORT was filmed at his former house at 274 Trilby Street in Athens.[10]


Athens, GA: Inside/Out premiered at Buckhead Cinema and Drafthouse in Atlanta on November 30, 1986.[11] This was an invitation-only showing for the participants in the film.[11] MTV's The Cutting Edge showed the documentary the same night.[11]

Athens, GA: Inside/Out had a limited theatrical run in 1987, mostly playing in major cities.[11]


The New York Times called Athens, GA: Inside/Out a "bright, scrappy new documentary" that had "a refreshingly homemade feeling; it's as likably odd and unpretentious as Athens itself."[1] The Washington Post wrote "Gayton's film reflects the energy and the self-made spirit of Athens," and also noted that, "Interviews and performances are skillfully interwoven."[7]

Athens, GA: Inside/Out was named pick of the week video by People magazine in 1988.[citation needed] It was named one of the Top Ten Films about Georgia by the New Georgia Encyclopedia.[2]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Rolling Stone wrote "Athens, Ga." Inside/Out…helped bring the town’s music scene to national attention."[14] James Herbert, the film's cinematographer, went on to direct 14 music videos for R.E.M., as well as videos for other Athens bands, including The B-52s.[10][6]

The film was featured on the first six episodes of MTV's 120 Minutes, which held a contest "Win a Weekend in Athens, GA."[11]

Athens, GA. Inside/Out: Original Soundtrack was released by I.R.S. Records on vinyl and cassette.[5] A single from the soundtrack—The Squalls "Na Na Na Na" and Flat Duo Jets' "Crazy, Hazy Kisses"—reached number two on the college radio charts.[11] The soundtrack was re-released in 2012.[12] A 21st-century critic noted "The soundtrack to Athens, GA: Inside/Out is a testament to how much of an impact bands from a certain era can have on a particular scene."[12]

On June 18, 2008, AthFest kicked off with a showing of Athens, GA: Inside/Out at Ciné, followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session with ORT, Vanessa Briscoe-Hay and Michael Lachowski of Pylon, Bob Hay of The Squalls, and other cast members.[16] Dexter Romweber of Flat Duo Jets performed a solo set following the session.[16]

In November 2021, the sequel Athens, Ga. Inside/Out 2: Red Turns Blue was released to streaming.[4][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Maslin, Janet (May 29, 1987). "Film: 'Athens, Ga.,' on Rock Bands". The New York Times. pp. C14. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Neupert, Richard (2011-06-07). "Top Ten Films about Georgia". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  3. ^ a b c Shearer, Andrew. "Sequel to influential Athens music documentary gets streaming release date". Online Athens. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  4. ^ a b Bergen, Colin. "Athens documentary Inside/Out gets a sequel after 30 years". The Red and Black. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  5. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason. Original Soundtrack - Athens, GA. Inside/Out Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved 2022-07-09
  6. ^ a b c "Athens, Ga.- Inside Out". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  7. ^ a b c Harrington, Richard (October 24, 1987). "'Athens, Ga.: Inside/Out'". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Athens, Ga. - Inside/Out at Cine". Athens Cine. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  9. ^ Sanchez, Corina. "James Herbert". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Phillips, Julie (2008-01-18). "Athens, GA - Inside/Out: Additional perspectives from those who participated in the movie". Athens Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Hale, Grace Elizabeth (2020-02-13). Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture. UNC Press Books. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-1-4696-5488-1 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b c Mistich, Dan (2012-10-18). "Various Artists: Athens, GA: Inside/Out Soundtrack, PopMatters". Pop Matters. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  13. ^ "Athens Music History Self-Guided Tour". Historic Athens Welcome Center. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  14. ^ a b Sullivan, James (2011-11-22). "Rockabilly Hero Dexter Romweber Honored by Jack White, Exene Cervenka in New Doc". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  15. ^ Soriano, Ashley (April 10, 2019). "Formerly R.E.M.'s favorite barbecue spot, Broad Street location hasn't been able to hold a name". The Red and Black. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
  16. ^ a b "Upcoming Events @ CINE". Cine. 2008-06-18. Archived from the original on March 9, 2022. Retrieved 2022-07-09.