( By Angela Zimmerman)
Consider this challenge: This past weekend, 20 filmmakers and 20 bands set out on a mad-dash throughout San Francisco and beyond to create music videos for Music Video Race. They had 48 hours, from conception to submission, to produce a video to be judged by a panel of prominent professionals, publically screened at Rickshaw Stop this Saturday night, June 15th.
You may have seen a few band/filmmaker teams around town, singing, filming, braving wind and chasing sunsets, setting up at locations that varied from friends' warehouses to makeshift Mission sets to inside a box truck. The pairings were serendipitous; prior to last Friday, the bands and filmmakers had no idea with whom they'd be working.
Music Video Race was conceived by Tim Lillis and Jacquelyn Marker, both experienced video producers and music lovers, who sought to surface some of the best local talent in the two mediums and offer up a new platform for competition and community--while providing artists an incentive to quickly bring their projects to completion. 2012's inaugural MVR proved a big success; a large sampling of bands and filmmakers took part, with the teams of WATERS, Hot Toddies, French Cassettes, and doppio taking home prizes.
This year's second annual MVR is a continuation of the same spirit that drives artists willing--wanting, even--to work under these constraints. Participating bands include local mainstays and rising up-and-comers, from rock bands to rap artists. Battlehooch, Giggle Party, Sun Hop Fat, Ash Reiter, Magic Fight, A-1, and Growwler are among the 20 selected to compete.
The filmmakers, totally anonymous, are experienced video producers, accustomed with bringing a vision to fruition. (Although, of course, one assumes they usually have more time. Think of this as Chopped for music and video artists.)
At the kickoff bash at Sport's Basement Friday evening, the teams were announced and an official "ready-set-go" cast them all free. Lillis and Marker speak (collectively, by email) to the spontaneity and camaraderie unleashed at that gathering. "All of a sudden a mob of strangers pile into the room for the kickoff, and you can feel the nervous energy and excitement building. We have witnessed the filmmakers/bands really embrace getting to know one another because there is no time to beat around the bush."
In most circumstances, a band would choose a filmmaker (and vice versa), and have time to cultivate trust and work through ideas. Not so much here. If it's not an instant connection, how do teams spark chemistry in such a short amount of time?
"It's definitely case by case, as personalities can vary," Lillis and Marker answer. "There are always a lot of personalities in the room, but everyone has the same goal--to make an amazing video as quickly as possible. There's generally a great sense of collaboration, and the bands know that they ultimately need to cede control to the filmmakers, or the videos will never be finished. These folks are pro filmmakers, so it's pretty easy to trust them and hand over the reins."
Here in the Bay Area, where there are no creative limitations and beauty and invention abounds, the MVR challenge breeds an especially colorful array of themes and ideas.
"Living room voodoo, werewolf fighting, ninja paparazzi, accidental defenestration, and western-style showdowns are all part of this year's offerings," Lillis tell us. Attendees at Saturday night's Screening party and awards show at Rickshaw Stop will get a chance to watch all the music video submissions, vote for an Audience Favorite, and see which projects are awarded winners by a panel of judges. Judges include Disposable Film Fest's Katie Gillum, San Francisco Bay Guardian's senior arts editor Cheryl Eddy, and Allen Corell, director of videos for Beach House and other artists, and a Noise Pop panel will judge the Best Song. Participating bands Animal Friend and Magic Fight will play live sets.
On Sunday night at 8pm, hitting the finish line after 48 hours of high-pressure artistic toil, Lillis and Marker say teams were both taxed and enlivened by the weekend-long race. "Jubilant and exhausted for sure. Some claimed to be delirious, but in our opinion they were making plenty of sense."