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Girl Trouble takes to the big screen

Documentary project celebrates band’s 30th anniversary

Local filmmaker Isaac Olsen is preparing to release Strictly Sacred: The Girl Trouble Documentary sometime next year to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary. /Courtesy photo

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In the spirit of former Weekly Volcano editor Matt Driscoll, who often wrote about Tacoma's gritty surf rock band Girl Trouble, I'm going to straight up call the band "quintessential."

Quintessential in helping get Sub Pop and K Records on the map, quintessential in pioneering Northwest music and quintessential in the DIY movement - before it was popular.

This is exactly the spirit that filmmaker Isaac Olsen hopes to capture in Strictly Sacred: The Girl Trouble Documentary, set to be released in conjunction with a book near the band's 30th anniversary next year.

Olsen is the nephew of Bon Von Wheelie (drums) and Dale Phillips (bass), who together with Kurt Kendall (saxophone, vocals) and Kahuna (guitar), make up Girl Trouble.

"It's been great to have them as an example," says Olsen, who grew up with the band, "The whole spirit of being creative all the time - not separating your art and your life - that's been very influential."

Olsen started a Kickstarter campaign Aug. 14 to help with funding. Already, Olsen has met almost half his goal of an initial $5,000. He hopes to raise $10,000.

"This is a commercially viable product," Olsen says. "It's really obvious the audience is there."

Backers are rewarded for their contribution with a handshake, a personalized cassette, autographed memorabilia and even a green go-go dress and decorative snowflake that were used in videos.

Olsen is currently in the preliminary stages of the project, getting everything into useable format and structuring the interviews and layouts.

From the campaign webpage, Olsen states "... a unique aspect of Girl Trouble is that they are avid chroniclers of their own story ... it's almost as if Girl Trouble has been generating biographical material for the express purposes of a comprehensive film and book on the subject all this time!"

So basically, says Olsen, "I'm just exploiting something that already exists."

Olsen admits the hardest part of this project is for Girl Trouble to toot its own horn.

"But this is going to be a toot fest," he says with a laugh.

And for the filmmaker, "Being enthusiastically nostalgic can be tough. I'm trying to be objective considering (the circumstances)."

The film will feature a photo and film history, starting with the band's childhood and documenting through its decades of music. It also touches on some present day happenings, such as Girl Trouble's recent lawsuit with Gorilla Productions. (The lawsuit that lingered for nearly two years was eventually dismissed.)

Olsen, who has a self-proclaimed lust for archiving and putting old stuff together, has another feature movie, Ich Hunger, on the cusp of release, and has worked with Girl Trouble's Kendall on several film projects, including the full-length Quiet Shoes, starring Girl Trouble's Phillips and five award-winning shorts that were shown at The Grand Cinema's 72-hour film festival.

Check out the kickstarter at

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