by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

All I Can Say
Directed by: Danny Clinch, Taryn Gould, Colleen Hennessy, Shannon Hoon
Starring: Shannon Hoon, Lisa Sinha, Glen Graham, Brad Smith, Rogers Stevens and Christopher Thorn
Not rated
1 hr., 42 mins.

Before Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon died, he traveled with a video camera. Everywhere he went, he documented his life, almost like a video diary.

Director Danny Clinch was given the tapes by Hoon’s girlfriend, Lisa Sinha, and, after a mourning period and “a lot of discussion,” the renowned photographer — who once interned for Annie Leibovitz and has shot the likes of Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur and Björk — made the bold move of telling Hoon’s story through the singer’s eyes.

Late last month, Oscilloscope Laboratories released the feature documentary *All I Can Say* in virtual cinemas, record stores and music venues. 

“Shannon’s girlfriend always felt I should take control of the tapes and do something with them,” Clinch says. “There was talk of making the film as a Blind Melon documentary, until someone in the band said, ‘This is through Shannon’s eyes, and more focused on him.’”

“It’s not a film about Blind Melon,” Clinch continues. “It’s about this person who started filming himself obsessively. This is before there were cellphones. He had to change the batteries, bring the camera, save the tapes. He had all these things going against him. He was leaving something really valuable to us. The challenge was telling that story and not leaving any holes in the story.”

Founded in 1990, Blind Melon launched its self-titled debut in 1992 with a southern psych-rock-influenced album fused with ’90s-era alt-grunge that included the breakthrough single, “No Rain.” Its accompanying music video starred the now-iconic “Bee Girl” and earned heavy airplay on MTV, propelling the band to quadruple-platinum success. Hoon passed away from a cocaine overdose on Oct. 21, 1995, in New Orleans.

All I Can Say traces Blind Melon’s rise to fame, the Indiana-bred singer’s creative process, his family, his daughter’s birth and his struggle with addiction — all the way up to a few hours before his death at age 28 on his tour bus. It features appearances by Sinha, who gave birth to Hoon’s daughter, Nico Blue; and Blind Melon members Christopher Thorn, Brad Smith, Rogers Stevens and Glen Graham.

“Shannon would love this film — the editing of it, the franticness of it, the wide angles, the poking fun of his friends, the music,” says Clinch, who co-directed the documentary with Taryn Gould and Colleen Hennessy. “We did him justice.”

“I was friends with Shannon and am still friends with the band to this day,” Clinch continues. “We had the rug pulled out from under us when Shannon passed away. We were in our mid- to late 20s — still pretty young at heart and not used to that sort of thing.”

The film started as Blind Melon’s story, Clinch says. But then he started to focus on Hoon and the world through his eyes. 

Co-director Gould notes that, “It’s an autobiographical document that’s comprehensive of a person and a time. I think the music is part of his expression and diary. You get to know him. He was raw and very open about his struggles . . . We were dealing with, ‘What did Shannon intend with this archive?’ He was intending to share because he was constantly addressing an audience. Shannon was leaving a record of his life. We put it together as a complete portrait of a flawed human who died young.”

All three say it’s unfortunate to release All I Can Say during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hennessy thinks, however, that it could be helpful to those who are suffering through this time.

“I’ve read statistics about how people are struggling with mental health more than ever as a result of this,” Hennessy says. “This would resonate with that group as well. They can relate to someone else struggling, struggling with addiction. You feel like you’re not quite alone.”

Gould adds, “This story is particularly interesting. It was a really surreal experience, let alone the fact that it ends with this dramatic punctuation mark. He filmed up until the morning he passed away . . . He’s someone who lived and loved hard and he messed up hard. You get to experience all of that.”

Out of the Box is a semi-regular column by VCReporter staff and contributors about television and streaming content.