Trey Hill and Scott Mayo figured they had a compelling subject for their first feature-length documentary about Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. Then the Dallas filmmakers dug deeper and realized they had it all wrong.
Welch’s story of faith-based redemption wasn’t only about drugs, alcohol, and the excesses of the rock-star lifestyle. It was about fatherhood.
“We were telling a story about a guy out on the road, trying to live a life of faith in a world that he chose to leave because of his faith,” Mayo said. “When the story became about Jennea, it got far more real. Everything comes back to her. His transformation is very much tied to her.”
Welch was the lead guitarist for metal band Korn during its heyday in the late 1990s, then abruptly walked away from the band in 2005, claiming he had become a born-again Christian. He was a single father to Jennea, whose suicide attempts during her teenage years left Welch with feelings of guilt and resentment.
After healing the rifts with his band members, he rejoined the group five years ago with a more mature outlook and a new set of values.
“All the things in my life that were killing me are gone,” Welch said. “I’m the best dad I can be, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a wild rocker. Times are changing.”
Loud Krazy Love was commissioned by I Am Second, the Plano-based Christian organization for which Welch, 48, was one of the first celebrity endorsers a decade ago. That eventually led Welch, a California native who now lives in Nashville, to Hill and Mayo in Dallas.
They filmed the interview sequences over two days in the upstairs ballroom inside Sons of Hermann Hall despite occasional interruptions from bad weather, power outages, and train whistles courtesy of a DART line that had just opened across the street.
Mayo said the filmmakers wanted to present a “raw, authentic, true story of redemption” without the earnest proselytism that plagues many faith-based movies.
“Most faith-based films have this foundational agenda, which is disingenuous to what a story really is. The agenda so often informs your narrative choices,” Hill said. “We have a perspective and a worldview, and probably the film reflects our own ideas. But we came in just wanting to tell the truth, and let the audience decide.”
The filmmakers began the project at a 2013 Korn concert in Pennsylvania, when Welch officially rejoined the band for the first time.
“It was a better version of Korn than when I left. People had their heads on straight and everybody was positive,” Welch said. “The guys are really proud of me, and I’m proud of them.”
They eventually interviewed dozens of people besides Welch, only a fraction of which appear in the finished film. One of them is Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, whose skepticism about Welch’s spiritual awakening helped to provide balance.
Another interviewee is Welch’s father, who hinted during production that the real reason he left the band was because of Jennea. That was the catalyst for shifting the focus of the film.
“That was the moment that we knew what our ending would be,” Mayo said. “And even if we didn’t, at least we knew where to find it.”
Besides interviewing Jennea at length, the directors secured access to hours of Welch’s private home movies that provided background footage of father and daughter. Welch said Jennea was the primary inspiration for sharing his story, which he also chronicled in a 2016 book.
“I was a completely different person before. Now I’m a happy person,” he said. “I know people are still stuck where I used to be.”
After debuting in May at the Dallas International Film Festival, Loud Krazy Love will premiere this week on Showtime.