Ben Watt, better known as one-half of alterna-pop British duo Everything But the Girl and now a successful DJ and remixer in his own right, humbly began his career with his debut indie effort, North Marine Drive back in 1983. While the album reached number one on the UK indie charts, the success of Drive was ultimately overshadowed when Watt teamed up with Tracey Thorn to create the band that became synonymous with a burgeoning sophisti-pop trend, taken to mountainous heights by other acts like the Style Council. Everything But the Girl displayed a keen sense of irony and literary wit that gave their brand of new wave bossa nova a sharper, biting edge. Later on, they would transform their twee sound into a grander, nearly cinematic form of electronic pop that not only brought them wider attention but much more lucrative rewards as well. Watt’s indie solo album was all but forgotten at this point, at times appearing in-print and then later disappearing from the market in accordance to the ebb and flow of EBTG’s success.
“I think conservatism’s all about being a individual,” announces Nick at the start of Follow the Leader. One of three high school class presidents followed by the film, he’s eager to attend the annual Boys State Leadership Week, where he and his fellows will be learning all about “politics.” As the film begins, Nick, Ben (a liberal, at first), and D.J. (an independent, more or less) take this word to mean a career, dedicated to public service, fulfilling their own ambitions, and making changes in people’s lives. Over three years, Jonathan Goodman Levitt’s beguiling documentary reveals, all three undergo changes, some more drastic than others.