All images in this post (except for the coffee can) are by Ben Roberds, a director living in Athens. Check out his website here. Also, check out a pilot called Night Bus that he co-directed - it freaked us all out after the Saturday screening.
This past weekend Doug and I took a trip to Athens, Georgia for the 2014 Sprockets Music Video Festival. This is a rare occurrence because almost all IMVDb work is done remotely so Doug and I don't get to hang out much. We gave away a ton of IMVDb t-shirts and had a great time. Here's how it went down.
If you're not familiar with Athens, it's northeast of Atlanta, and is famous for being a music town. REM is probably the most well-known act to come from Athens, and apparently they still live there - in fact "do you know Michael Stipe" is a good ice breaker for meeting people in Athens. Other acts include the B=52s, Of Montreal, and many more. One of my new favorites, Kishi Bashi, lives there. The point is, it has musical cred to spare.
Sprockets was started nine years ago and up until this year was an add-on event to Athfest, a well-establish and popular music festival in downtown Athens. This year was the first that it was on its own weekend, spread over two days with two screenings, and a series of talks (more on that later).
Side note: on this trip I learned that Sprockets is actually named after the 90s SNL skit that I think most of us think of when we hear the word Sprockets.
Besides being moved to one dedicated weekend, one of the big additions this year was two talks about music videos given on the afternoon before the Saturday screening. For the first talk, Sprockets brought in Stephen Pitalo from The Golden Age of Music Video to talk about music videos from the beginning of time until around 1993. The talk was fantastic - Stephen was a blast to hang out with and has tons of great music video stories that have been culled from years of research and interviews for his upcoming book. Make sure to follow Stephen on twitter.
By the way, Sprockets has its own special coffee blend, in case you were wondering. Brought to you by Jittery Joe's.
The second talk way given by me, and I chose the subject of the huge shifts in how music videos are watched from around 1997 to present day. We looked at how MTV lost control of the medium in the early to mid 2000s, and how advances in video technology came around at just the right time to help lift music videos to their current stature. We recorded the audio and we'll be syncing it up with the slides in the next week or so.
Friday night was the Georgia showcase, featuring a slate of music videos that were produced in Georgia. Saturday night was the international showcase, which featured 25 music videos culled down from a few hundred submitted videos. Both screenings took place at the famous 40 Watt Club.
It's a testament to just how many great music videos there are out there that neither Doug nor I had seen many of the videos in the program.
Some were truly bizarre. Check out this video from New Zealand that has one of the freakiest looking puppets I've ever seen (shows up at 3:08):
We also got to see Video Rahim's great video for "Mile High" by Brooklynn:
The Sprockets judges panel chose wisely and the video for "Fear & Delight" by The Correspondents came out on top:
The audience choice was a video that played at both the Georgia and International shows - "Our Insides" by Four Eyes.
Not only was director Matthew MacCarthy in attendance, but so was Four Eyes herself. Careful with this one, I've been singing about all week about the things that are going to eat away my insides.
The winner of the Georgia show was a performance video taking place at a house party venue by the band Burns Like Fire:
The flickskinny tour story for this year was pretty amazing - an epic two part series revolving around Of Montreal and a terrible festival experience. It isn't up online, but once it is we'll add it here.
There you have it! Thanks to Danielle for organizing such a great event, FilmAthens, the Sprockets volunteers, and everyone who came out to see the talks by Stephen and me. It was a great weekend and when it comes around again, join us in Athens!
Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.
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