Adam Bhala Lough


by Joanna Orland

Director Adam Bhala Lough has chosen subject matter Hot Sugar for his latest documentary, which is playing at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.  More often referred to by his stage name Hot Sugar, musician Nick Koenig is best known for making associative music, a style of music created using sounds he samples from the environment.  In Lough’s documentary Hot Sugar’s Cold World, the director follows Koenig as he drifts through the world, interpreting it through its sound.


How did you choose Hot Sugar as the subject matter for your documentary?

I have a two-step test for music doc subjects. 1. The music needs to be great. 2. The subject has to be charismatic and fascinating to the camera. Most musicians fall in one or the other category (or neither). The rare musician has both and Nick is that rare musician.


Nick states that by recording audio, it’s a way for him to have ownership and control – How involved was he in what is portrayed in this documentary, and the style in which it is presented?

He was involved every step of the way. We collaborated on the project hand-in-hand, creatively speaking. I consider this as much his film as mine.


How do you think this film will affect Nick’s career and fanbase?

I think it was the great Yogi Berra who said “never make predictions, especially about the future.”


How did you get the supporting cast including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Martin Starr involved?

Everyone except Dr. Tyson are my personal friends (Jarmusch, Heems, Kool AD, Martin). Dr. Tyson we cold-called at his office and it turned out his assistant was a big fan of my first film Bomb the System.


How did producers David Gordon Green, Jody Hill and Danny McBride get involved, as they are better known for their comedy and fiction work?

David and I are old friends. We first met in NYC when we lived in the East Village together back in 2002. Flash-forward 13 years, he has a production company (Rough House) and they were getting involved in documentaries so I brought him Hot Sugar and he loved it. I showed him a very early rough cut.


What’s up next for you?

I direct a series of highly successful skateboarding documentaries called The Motivation (on Netflix, worldwide). We’re in the midst of setting up a slate of Motivation movies. We have 3 in development right now. Ideally we do all 3 at the same time.


If there were one word to sum up Hot Sugar’s Cold World, what would that one word be?



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