madelife will be screening two nights of Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, a documentary about the history and culture of Stones Throw Records. Recently our creative coordinator interviewed the director of OVWT, Jeff Broadway.
Get your tickets for our September 18th and 19th screenings and our exclusive hip hop afterparty.
ML: What suggestions would you have for someone wanting to make documentary films?
JB: Choose a subject that already has an audience, because setting up a film that you have to create an audience for is very difficult, and most people don’t have the financial resources to do that effectively. It’s one of the things that a lot of people don’t consider when starting a project.
ML: What was it about Stones Throw Records that inspired you to make, ‘Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton’?
JB: I grew up listening to quite a bit of hip hop, and found the more alternative corner of hip hop that Stones Throw occupied in college. I felt that their was a very strong visual identity to the music they created. I had been living in L.A. for a while and I wanted to make a film that was local and didn’t require a lot of travel for production. It was on a subject or group of artists whom I understood. It hit a lot of boxes, and the receptivity was there.
ML: Your use of found footage in the editing of OVWT has a similar vibe to the hip hop aesthetic of using sampled material to create something original. Can you talk about how you translated this aesthetic into your filmmaking?
JB: I wanted the aesthetic of Stones Throw to be mirrored in the film, and the film to be informed by the iconic identity of Stones Throw music.
ML: How important has collaboration been in your filmmaking process? Specifically in working with your editor Rob Bralver.
JB: Rob and I did both Cure for Pain and Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton together. We’re old College roommates, (who) have known each other for 10 years . Finding a partner like him who understands, where there is very little conversation that needs to be had in order to convey what needs to be done in the edit. During the production aspect I was shooting with different colleagues and friends of mine in L.A, while Rob was mostly involved in the edit. A film like this is mostly found in the edit, it’s the most crucial part of the process for sure. Having someone in that editing chair who really understands what the game plan is, and what the style needs to be, and can actually take directions and understands how that direction translates onto the screen is incredibly important.
ML: What was it like working with Peanut Butter Wolf?
JB: It’s been great to get to know Wolf, to have a friend in him is a really positive outcome that came from a difficult to make film. I have a great deal of respect for what he has built at Stones Throw over the years, and I am very pleased that he was willing to take the plunge with me and trust me to take a vast majority of his life’s work to be represented in a filmic capacity by me. It was a large responsibility and I am glad that people are enjoying the film.
ML: What was particularly difficult about the film?
JB: It was a huge undertaking, a ton of history to cover. Within the larger narrative of Stones Throw all these different sub-narratives and all these individual stories. The whole process of talking to everyone and shooting everything. (There where) a lot of different personalities, (and) a lot of history. It was a difficult process.
ML: “Through its work in documentary filmmaking, Gatling has established itself on the new media landscape and forged partnerships with Cinetic/FilmBuff, Kickstarter, Light In The Attic Records and Tugg, Inc. – subverting traditional production and distribution models to connect directly with its audiences.” How did this idea for non-traditional funding come about, and how did you approach these partners?
JB: It was kind of a necessity. I’ve gone to Kickstarter for both of my films, and crowd-funding has been a major component of getting things done. These campaigns double as really great publicity tools, so I’ve been able to find investors who have learned about these productions via Kickstarter and that was the way our production budget was flushed out on OVWT. You either do or don’t have the business savvy and curiosity to understand how the traditional model of distribution works. You figure out if you are willing to learn how to do what some of the dinosaurs do, and really just kind of beat them at their own game. I saw a lot of pretty terrible distribution deals with hugely inflated T & E budgets especially in a Cure for Pain and I didn’t think that we were going to make any of our money back on that. It (Cure for Pain) was a film that we put out ourselves physically and then worked with a distribution partner to get it out internationally. I think that the landscape is evolving rapidly. Traditional roles like sales agents and … I don’t know man it’s just a bunch of bullshit. The more you can do for yourself the more money you end up being able to put back in your own pocket and the pockets of your investors, (that) makes for a more successful film.
ML: What are you most excited about right now?
JB: (We’re) In production on another music documentary about Daptone Records, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Charles Bradley. We’re going to do a hybrid live concert film and a follow up tour documentary. It’s going to be my third project I am going to take to Kickstarter, so I’m gearing up to launch that campaign in the next couple of weeks. The vast majority of that will take place in December. Doing a lot of other things to pay the bills.
ML: The artist’s life.
JB: Yep, absolutely man.