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It's year two for the Arkansas Music Video Competition (or in all its cumbersome beauty, the Third Annual Little Rock Film Festival's Second Annual Arkansas Music Video Competition). And like last year's inaugural edition, it's the highlight of Saturday night at the festival, an impressive marriage of music and film that organizer Mike Poe hopes evolves into a broader, SXSW-style Little Rock Film and Music Festival.
But for now, we're left to anticipate one packed-to-the-gills night. On Saturday, at Revolution, beginning, punctually, at 8 p.m., the competition's six finalists — American Princes, the Boondogs, the Good Fear, Claire Holley, VORE and WishTribe — will screen their entries and play short sets backed by video collages of their choosing. For those wary of packed bills, Poe assures that bands will share equipment and DJ g-force will keep the show moving by video-mixing VJ-style.
It's a diverse group. The American Princes, of course, are Little Rock's indie rock heroes, who spend most of their days elsewhere, winning hearts and minds and Magnet year-end countdowns. The Boondogs, or at least their core members, have been making smart, infectious pop music together for almost 20 years. The Good Fear, which specializes in Southern-tinged pop-rock, is mostly based in Fayetteville, where the band plays infrequently, but remains one of the city's most reliable draws. Claire Holley is a Mississippi-born, L.A.-residing singer/songwriter with four albums and a strong national following. Based in Fayetteville, VORE's been turning out sludge-y death metal for 15 years. And alt-rockers WishTribe put out their self-titled debut late last year.
Their videos, which you can preview on Rock Candy (www.arktimes.com/blogs/rockcandy), run the gamut, too. The Princes' video, produced by the competition's reigning champs, local production team Deluxe36, takes a strong, narrative approach that mirrors, at least in big chunks, the song. The Boondogs', shot by buzz-y web wunderkind Benjamin Reece in New Orleans, captures the kids of lead 'dogs Jason Weinheimer and Indy Grotto at play. Wishtribe's partially co-produced vid takes the tortured artist thing literally.
For most of the entrants, the productions were about working within limitations. For a setting to match his band's dark, brooding song “Throne to Wolves,” Jeremy “Skullcrusher” Partin and his band VORE (it's Latin for “devour”) worked with director David Lipke, late of “The Video Zoo,” to find an ideal spot in Emerald Park in North Little Rock, just after a late snow last year. With a few key props — cow skulls, Satanic-ish symbols, a dagger — it's scary enough to make you think twice about riding the bike trail on a cloudy day.
Zach Holland, of the Good Fear, co-produced, edited and stars in the video for his band's “Dear Daniel.” He worked with a limitation most might think would keep him out of a competition like this. He didn't have “a video camera worth a crap.” So with a major assist from photographer Rett Peek, who shot Holland and the band in three different locations, Holland assembled a funny, clever stop-motion video with some 350 snapshots.
Holland says the video came from equal parts vision and lack of equipment.
“It was mostly about picking an idea we could do, that we wouldn't get discouraged by, that would be fun.”
The success of this project has been empowering. Holland recently launched Fun Machine Music (www.funmachinemusic.blogspot.com), a production house for scoring music to video and, possibly, creating video in the future.
Skullcrusher's pleased simply to be included.
“For a death metal band to be asked to be a part of this, it's really cool. We're very honored to be part of the film festival. We never get a chance to play with this sort of caliber of bands.” I'm looking forward to making some nw friends.