Former RTRFM Breakfast radio presenter and pillar of WA’s music community, Peter Barr will be celebrated in an intimate portrait of the final weeks leading up to his retirement after a decade on the air. Premiering on the closing night of RTR’s Gimme Some Truth music documentary festival, Barr None: The Peter Barr Story encapsulates the end of an era for Perth’s local music scene.
One of the film’s directors, Chris Butler said Peter’s retirement from Breakfasts with Barr last year meant a great deal to the local music community after ten years on Perth’s airwaves.
“He’s a hero in a small corner of Perth culture, and it was a story I thought was important to capture.”
What began as merely filming Barr’s final weeks, Butler and Kal Englishby later decided to construct a proper documentary for his fans but also for those unfamiliar with this important local story.
The morning of Barr’s retirement announcement was one of the most emotional scenes to shoot.
“That sense of anticipation that he was about to tell everyone was definitely palpable,” Butler said.
In the lead up to his final show, Barr invited local musos to play his favourite songs. The inclusion of interviews with people that knew Peter best is a filmic opportunity to thank him. Butler describes capturing these final moments as a mixture of “lots of tears, and lots of gratitude.”
“There was no shortage of people that were willing to talk to us, and share stories about how influential he was and how important he was in giving them their start.”
“I don’t think there’s really any bands in Perth that haven’t passed through Peter Barr’s fingers.”
Barr’s humbleness, Butler adds, is met with a genuine interest in promoting Perth bands and supporting artists because he believes in them. The film attempts to establish that as well as being a charismatic personality, Barr was also an exceptionally hard worker.
“He really puts the work in and he’s really been such a solid anchor for RTR after the last decade.”
Whilst Barr None is foremost a character study, the film is also an important vehicle for exploring RTR’s place in Perth’s cultural landscape. Unlike other stations, that have to meet a certain number or advertising or listener-ship quotas and the “music is sort of incidental,” Butler said RTR is more eclectic and serves the community foremost.
“I think RTR cares less about themselves and more about engaging with people and the content that they’re playing.”
“It represents so many different voices in Perth, musically, politically, journalistically, that I just haven’t seen anywhere else in the whole country.”
Ultimately Barr None’s mood is one of emotion and transition. Butler said the film represents an end of Peter Barr as the face of local music culture and the evolution to a new-age of Caitlin Nienaber at the helm of RTR’s breakfast radio.
“It felt like the end of an era in some ways, but also like a transition a whole new era.”
Barr None: The Peter Barr Story premieres Wednesday December 9th, as a part of RTRFM’s Gimme Some Truth music documentary festival’s closing night.