Running from Sept. 17 to Oct. 17, the Parkway of Broken Dreams crowdfunding project is part of Seed&Spark's Hometown Heroes rally, in which hometown-centered films (both fiction and nonfiction) can qualify for an opportunity to be executive produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Salem Street Entertainment, and UnLTD Productions. In order to qualify, the project has 30 days to not only raise at least 80% of its $15,000 funding goal, but also to gain 1,000 followers on the website.
Directed by journalist, cartoonist and filmmaker Pj Perez, Parkway of Broken Dreams documents the booming scene that sprung up along Maryland Parkway in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it became the thriving center of cultural activity in Las Vegas. Independently owned coffee shops filled with academics and intellectuals. Multiple record stores, including a massive Tower Records, served as premier destinations for local musicologists. Bars and clubs buzzed with live music, flowing taps and warm bodies. And UNLV's student-run radio station, KUNV, provided the soundtrack, through its innovative and award-winning Rock Avenue programming.
By the dawn of the 2000s, however, that scene almost entirely disappeared. Coffeehouses shuttered. Record stores went under. Rock Avenue was cancelled. The art and music scene, for the most part, moved to downtown Las Vegas, and Maryland Parkway today is–with the exception of official UNLV construction projects–a collection of decades-old shopping centers with little more in common than their aging exteriors.
The scene that rose up out of the late '80s and early '90s–paralleling the national mainstreaming of alternative music and coffeehouse culture–serves not just as a high-point in Las Vegas' cultural history, but as the "big bang" for almost everything to come after that. Nightlife pioneers got their start putting on after-hours events in tiny cafes and bars. Rock Avenue DJs became music industry powerhouses. An Emmy-award winning TV writer honed his skills over cheap cups of coffee. Everyone from future Saturday Night Live stars to members of The Killers owe at least part of their creative lives to the opportunities afforded them from the inclusive, come-as-you-
Parkway of Broken Dreams tells the story of that scene's ascendance and dissolution through a combination of new interviews with dozens of the people who made it all happen and curated footage that captures both the visual expression of the scene and a view of where Maryland Parkway currently stands—as well as where it may be going. More information about the film and its production can be found at parkwayofbrokendreams.com.
Parkway of Broken Dreams is Perez's first feature. He co-wrote and co-directed the 48 Hour Film Sugarhook, produced and directed the reality-style short Las Vegas Rules, and currently has several television pilots in development. Although currently based in Huntington Beach, California, he spent 25 years in Las Vegas as an editor, writer and musician, and like many other creatives, honed his skills in the Maryland Parkway scene.