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The Journal for Short Film Blog, Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Indie Music and Short Film Converging Further. Plus, YouTube Sells; We Don’t Tell You What It Means for You.

A few things have coincided to push me to write about music and short film again---the release of the new Beck album, an update on the Film2Music competition, and an email exchange with John Brophy of Gingerbread Patriots—a band we learned about via short film, sort of, and whom we definitely like a lot.

1) The new Beck album The Information comes with a DVD of music videos for each of its songs. For months, the tracks and videos were slowly leaked on his website. Now, when you buy a single track, you automatically get a video download, and so on. Said Beck recently, “We’re moving into a time when the song and the imagery and video are all able to exist as one thing.” First, we know, Beck can hardly be called “indie,” anymore. And second, . . . really?

So, is this a big deal, or not? Some kind of film renaissance or DV revolution? Is it maybe just a renewed interest in music videos created by the new interest in short film, the proliferation of nifty/viral/buzz-creating videos on the internet, and 10+ years of MTV sucking? Beck isn’t the first to do this; we’ve seen Sean Lennon and Death Cab for Cutie do similar video album projects this year, too.

What, you didn’t think we were answering questions, here, did you? By the way, did you hear that Google bought YouTube for $1,650,000,000, yesterday? Seems relevant, somehow.

2) The Film2Music competition, started by composer Kubilay Uner, is still on until Nov. 1st. He has invited filmmakers to create films to accompany his latest music and has offered significant prizes for the winners.

Clearly, musicians see some gain in having images accompany their music.

3) Which is why I was interested when some filmmakers I knew about drew attention to some indie music that they had used in their work. It seemed like a reversal: filmmakers talking about finding cool, independent music to score their films; i.e. music making their images complete instead of the other way around. Here are the details, with appropriate links in case you need to kill an afternoon exploring some rich indie soil---the filmmakers in question were Arin Crumly and Susan Buice, two young, soulful artistes making the film Four Eyed Monsters. While attending Sundance and trying to get a distributor for their film, they were making video podcasts, each of which was a fairly elaborate, earnest, behind-the-scenes-ish short documentary, complete with heartfelt voice-overs, arty animations, and some of the hippest music you’ve heard in a while. There are eight podcasts, to date. Eventually, they started crediting the music at the beginning of each podcast, but from the start they had discussed the music on the “Music” part of their website (the website, remember, made to promote the feature film but which is half full of podcasts and related info, . . . the podcasts definitely by now having a life of their own and, i wonder, starting to perhaps become more interesting than the feature film itself; i can’t tell, since their film still doesn’t have a distributor, and i haven’t seen it yet.). Infact, they’ve even created a myspace page for the podcast music. It’s their fourth myspace page, alongside one for Arin, Susan, and the film. We can’t stand maintaining the JSF’s single lame-ass myspace page (not even gonna link to it), so we are fairly in awe of their industriousness.

But back to John and the band. Arin and Susan wrote about how they got in touch with the band (HERE), how they acquired the music, and how much they loved it. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for everyone. (disclosure/endorsement: all of this led us to get their latest cd, Wax Lips & Hummingbirds, which has become a regular listen around the office.) But a couple months passed, and I started to wonder if anyone really benefited from the hook up. Surely the filmmakers did, since the music made their promotional stuff (ie. the good and somewhat arty videos, which, let’s face it, were/are pure promotion) much more cool. But I emailed John and asked if the band saw any kind of concrete benefit to the relationship, other than just the normal warm fuzzies of sharing art.

He said that they originally lent the music just to be nice, but that it ended up benefiting them some, too. He, too, thought the music helped the filmmakers’ work, but was also happy to see their own music in a video format, which was the first time that’d happened. They liked how the well-cut video could make the songs come alive. He said the opposite was true, too: the music could be mismatched with an image and could really deflate the music, which happened once.

I found this remark interesting, too:
we did gain a lot of exposure from the collaboration. i guess in this age of ongoing a/v stimuli i.e. video ipods, you tube,... there are a lot of people that have difficulty sitting through an unfamiliar song in its entirety unless it's paired with visuals to hold their attention through the unfamiliar audio territory. we had people writing us in swarms about how they loved the track after only one viewing of the video but normally it takes quite a few listens to get the same response from our myspace player or our cd.

He said they are now more interested than before in making some videos and invites filmmakers to contact them.

And so perhaps we’ve come full circle.

In other GP news, they say they’re working on a new album. If you want to see them live, it’d help to live in Portland, OR, it seems.

posted by The Journal of Short Film at 9:28 AM