Ezra and I had collaborated on some experimental pieces a few years back and to see his musical evolution has been inspiring. From a legacy of musicians, Ezra always had an affinity to vaudville, ukeleles, and technology. It was a natural progression when he first started to perform as kilgore trout is dead.” In this video he played at my weekly open film night in conjunction with animator Steven Lapcevic.
I was able to snag an impromptu performance from Kevin after his appearence at “midevenings with jay miller” and had a great time just talking about being a musician on staten island. He spoke about his gravitation to Dock street during the popularity of Monty Love, jay millers band a few years ago, and his first exposure to people with various different opinions from his own. He talked with great affection about coming home and performing in staten island and the nervousness to perform well for his hometown. He spoke of his perspective on how his music might be perceived as sad, but in his mind his music is just honest.
I couldn’t help but feel so comfortable with his candor. He was humble and gracious about his experiences. It was so much fun recording Kevin. It was a pleasure listening to him and his music and look forward to his future albums.
I had heard that RJ from Pitchfork Media was interested in the Staten Island music scene. Skeptical of such a rumor, I dismissed it until a few days later, I heard that Pitchfork was filming Cymbals Eat Guitars on the roof of a friend of mine on Van Duzer St. This was unbelievable. A worldwide purveyor of popular indie music was right in my hometown of Staten Island. I had heard of Cymbals Eat Guiatrs through a couple of friends, but figured that they would be another great band overlooked by New York. I’m so glad I was wrong.
For those who might not be aware, many great bands on the island have been trying very hard to breakout of the negative stigma that Staten Island doesn’t have good music to offer New York city. Besides the rise of popularity of Ingrid Michaelson and the Budos, most New York music listeners won’t be able to hear some great indie music from Staten Island either because its a far commute or because many bands just aren’t able to get the radio play on alot of new york stations. The advent of having RJ come to Staten Island bodes well for the future of Staten Island indie music.
I filmed Cymbals Eat Guitars playing a show with other island bands Paragraph and the Great Unwashed.
Rory and Matt were recording their EP at the Welfare Line, Joe Brancato’s recording studio in Pennsylvania, when they came up with this song. The Welfare line recorded local bands around the Philly hardcore scene, leaving traces of their recording sessions such as discarded lyrics on crumpled pieces of paper. Upon the discovery, Matt and Rory decided to use lyrics from one of those sessions in a little sea shanty.
In the same spirit of Staten Island collaboration, I teamed up with a number of other Staten Island music lovers to try to start a music vlog: Pat Duffy, blogger for Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, Kevin Spinner, live audio engineer whose mixed big names all over NYC including many shows at McCarren Pool, Kevin Devlin of the comedy troupe Mancrush, and graphic designer Matt Accardo who can make water into unsweetened iced tea. As we were trying to come up with names, I had approached Sean Kuhl about doing this renegade shooting style to capture the serendipitious nature of live music, but in unconventional spaces. He suggested in the hallway of an old building in Staten Island. So we hauled our equipment into their building, setup shop in one of the side rooms, and just let the camera roll. I really started falling in love with this mise en scene way of shooting cause its easy, and there is something untangiblely organic about it. It forces the viewer to fall into what its like to be in that space.
At the time, I had done a few music videos for other local indie bands in Staten Island and wanted to push my skill at telling simple narratives through music videos. Andrew, who had moved to Staten Island a year prior, had seen some of my work and was very interested in collaborating on making a simple music video.
Honestly, because of my affinity for Andrew’s music, and after seeing what he was able to do with just a point and shoot digital camera, I was slightly intimidated that whatever I came up with would not be up to par. After a couple of preproduction meetings, I realized that what I may have lacked in filmmaking prowess, I made up in loving to work with people. Andrew’s willingness and openness to my desire for structure and plot, was wonderful. Not only were we able to see eye to eye very quickly, but was able to incorporate one of our principal actor’s (Annabelle Merola) ideas as well.
The idea was simple. Andrew came to me and said, “I want to do a music video with kids and something very straight-forward and simple.” After listening to the song, the first thought in my head was my friend Annabelle, whose charisma and childlike exuberence, was catalyst enough to want to shoot it in her school. Her principal and all the students were so generous in facilitating the music video.
Laura Moss and I worked in commercial film production together for a number of years when she approached me to produce a script her husband and close friend had written. I never had thought about creating a zombie movie before until we discussed what zombie movies meant to her. “Zombie movies aren’t actually about zombies. They are about people who are dealing with a force that will never get tired, or stop coming after you. They are about people under extreme distress.” After that perspective, I couldn’t say no. The comedic possibilities were endless. I just had trouble eating lunch during a few production days. Rising Up: The Story of the Zombie Rights Movement starring Phil Lamarr of MAD TV and Kevin Allison of MTV’s “The State”
Awards: Best Direction – Boston International Film Festival
Distribution: Sony Pictures – Crackle.com