FC: Are you a musician? Where does the fascination for indie bands come into play?
EK: Music is something that’s always been around me for as long as I can remember honestly. My father is a guitar player, so I grew up with music and instruments playing in the house. I started playing the drums in my early teens and I was hooked. I still play to this day, but around the time I entered into high school I found that my love for watching movies was turning into a desire to make them for myself. The filmmaker in me really started to emerge.
As far as indie bands go, a lot of my friends in high school played in bands so that was a culture I knew fairly well. When I moved onto college at East Carolina University, I quickly discovered that the relatively small city of Greenville, North Carolina had quite the collection of people making really good local music happen consistently. There are a lot of similarities between indie musicians and filmmakers. We’re all artists trying our best to get our work out there, and we all have a very similar work ethic when it comes to doing what we love.
FC: Can you take us to the first day you attended Spazz Fest: What year it was? What was Spazz Fest’s initial impact on you?
EK: We started filming the documentary in February of 2013, with Spazz Fest IV happening that next month in March. The entirety of the film was shot over the course of about a month and a half, so we kept a fast paced shooting schedule with several various shoots happening every week up to the opening night of Spazz Fest. In that time we met & interviewed tons of people – local venue owners, fans, participating bands, and the founders/organizers of Spazz Fest themselves. It was a great experience, and we really got to dive deeper into what Spazz was really about as we filmed. By the time it was opening night, we knew the story was there. We had the interviews, the history, and most importantly the passion that Jeff and everyone involved had for this festival.
FC: Was this your first longer documentary short film? How much experience did you have prior to making ‘Spazz Out!’?
EK: Prior to Spazz Out! I made two other documentary films. The first was a passion project that my friend Nathan Rodan and I worked on in our first year in film school at East Carolina University. Its a 58-minute piece entitled Musically Bound: A Story Of Local Music. As you can tell by the title it deals with a similar theme as Spazz. We followed five different bands/artists from the Greenville music scene for a short period of time and compiled it into one film. Several people cautioned me for making a piece like that so early on, but I was very set on getting it made. I figured why wait to tell that particular story. Looking back its definitely very raw l since we shot it our first year of school with a limited amount of formal filmmaking education and basic resources… but I learned so much while making the film, and it connected me with several key people who later would be featured in Spazz Out! such as Dennis Kay and Matt Phillips & The Philharmonic.
I shot a second short form documentary piece about a football player who was creating positive change in his community for kids as well as several short narrative films and music videos. I’d say all these films, projects, and a bit of trial and error gave me the knowledge necessary to create Spazz Out!
FC: What has Spazz Fest, meeting Jeff Blinder, and hearing his story taught you about the formation of a community?
EK: I can honestly say that I learned a ton from Jeff during production of the film. And not only about Spazz and its history. Jeff is an awesome individual with a ton of passion for what he does in the Greenville music scene. He is constantly organizing and booking shows throughout the year, and he totally takes it to another level with the amount of talent he pulls in for Spazz Fest each year. He and many others in the scene are living examples of the benefits that come when you use the arts to create a sense of community. Everyone that comes out to shows are great, and always give support to others who are out there trying to achieve their goals. Greenville definitely gets the benefit from the amount dedication that’s put into the scene.
FC: How have you witnessed Jeff and others foster goodwill amongst everyone involved when even groups with the best intentions can unravel?
EK: During production my number one goal as a director was to accurately capture and portray the essence of Spazz: the community in the music scene, and the people who took part in it. When watching the film I want the viewer to feel like they’re right there in the venues, hearing bands play, in the heart of the action. Everyone we met during our time filming was extremely welcoming. When people asked me what I was doing with cameras, they were always excited to hear about the documentary and immediately wanted to know when they could see it and show their friends. Jeff and the others running the festival had things planned out like clockwork. While setting things up can get undoubtedly hectic, everyone working seemed to have a understanding that they were making something special happen, which just added to the whole sense of community we felt all week long during the festival.
FC: Did you research any other music scenes before making the doc, such as Seattle, London, San Francisco?
EK: I did, and the coolest part about doing the research was that I noticed a common thread between them all. No matter what city it was, the roots of music scene were almost always planted by a few individuals who didn’t care for the music currently being “served” to them… they ditched the “flavor of the month” and stirred the pot to create something of their own. Greenville was no exception. The people involved with the music scene wanted something different from what is played on the radio. They wanted something a little more creative and thought provoking, so they went out and did something about it. It was extremely rewarding for me to meet people like that, who showed me just what passionate, hardworking people can do.
FC: What was your final budget for the film and what costs were involved?
EK: Believe it or not, this film was made for $596. I experimented with crowdfunding for the first time, and managed to raise that money to cover a our basic costs. It really showed me the amount of support people were willing to give towards making a film. The biggest costs were for equipment, such as better lenses for filming in the low light settings, lights, memory cards, batteries, getting good audio recorded, travel expenses for an out of town interview, and some post production fees. After doing this type of “for the people, by the people” fundraising, I knew I had an obligation to deliver the best possible film I could that would remain true to not only Spazz Fest, but the larger Greenville music scene as well.
FC: Why did you choose to post ‘Spazz Out! on Youtube for free?
EK: Online distribution seems to be one of the best ways to get your content out there these days. Honestly, a good portion of what I and many others watch is on either Vimeo, Hulu, or Youtube. I like the idea of Youtube being a “total access” model for people to stumble across the film. So often you watch a video on Youtube and you see others like it recommended to you, so you watch them. If someone already likes local or indie music they could stumble across Spazz Out! completely on their own accord. I think that’s pretty cool. Additionally, when you are promoting the film to websites and telling people about it you can literally link them to the entire film. It’s quick and easy. Your film gets into the hands of your audience with total ease. The way I see it we may as well take advantage of all the Internet has to offer. The best way to get my film to a large audience would be to simply put it out there for all to enjoy.
FC: Your footage is beautiful. What advice can you give fellow filmmakers for shooting in night clubs with little light and lots of action?
EK: Thank you, much appreciated! Both my DP Brian Korff and I shot the film, so a conversation we were always having involved the lighting situation, and keeping shots fairly consistent across a two camera setup. Thankfully, we had access to a prime lens which is a lifesaver in low light situations such the venues where shows took place. We also utilized portable LED lights that mount right on the cameras so you always have light if needed. Also designing shots utilizing the venues existing house lights was essential. Often times house lights yield an extremely cinematic and well lit shot with a little bit of arrangement and planning. Getting there early and finding out what the light setup will look helps too. Essentially, just trust your instincts and make use of the available resources at hand.
FC: You made a Youtube video about some editing/computer/hard drive issues you had to overcome. Any tips on avoiding similar challenges in the future?
EK: I made that video back during post-production on Musically Bound. At the time we were on track to get the film out there when my computer started going out. Bit by bit editing became near impossible. Several pieces of footage were on the verge of total corruption, so needless to say I’m glad for backing things up. Progress in the editing room is frustrating to re-do, but it’s at least possible. Your footage is invaluable. The thing we as filmmakers have to remember is that we are working with technology– if you truly think of all that the device you’re reading this on can do, it’s pretty astounding. However, on the other side of the coin, technology is never 100% reliable. Backups of everything are a must. Lenses, memory cards, and even cameras if possible. Theres no such thing as being “too prepared” in filmmaking.
FC: You’ve garnered lots of attention for ‘Spazz Out!’ What can you recommend to fellow artists in terms of seeking press without a publicist? What’s your advice on DIY publicity?
EK: As an independent filmmaker I’m constantly wearing several different hats. A multifaceted mindset is a must. You have to shift gears and wear the hat of a publicist once your film is complete. Promotion should be viewed as critically as Pre-Production, Production, and Post. After all. You’ve spent hours upon hours planning, shooting, and crafting your film. Typically the next logical thing to do is show it to as many people as possible. Take a pro-active attitude towards promotion, actively search out venues who would screen your film, find your market. Be the one doing the research for websites, blogs, and podcasts who may have an interest in your film or its topic. Send out those emails and make those phone calls. You’re the number one expert regarding your particular film. If you go out there with the confidence that you can do something with your film, the success will follow.
FC: How was it to film/interview the band Future Islands?
EK: Getting to meet and have Future Islands take part in the film was just an absolutely amazing experience. I’ve been a fan of theirs for a few years so it was just too cool that they dug the idea of Spazz Out! and we’re excited to do an interview. We actually weren’t 100% sure if we’d be able to interview them due to performance/shooting schedules being spread around town at events that were happening simultaneously. I actually saw Samuel Herring (lead vocalist) at Peasants Pub where they were setting up to play one of the closing shows for Spazz. Brian and I just walked up, introduced ourselves, as well as what we were doing. A few minutes later Sam got the band together for an interview in their touring band for the film. Sam is an awesome individual for setting that up for us and being so open and friendly, and I can’t imagine the film without their interview in it. The band was more or less formed in Greenville, NC and all three of the guys in the bands went to East Carolina University as well. Future Islands are doing really big things, as they’ve already toured around the world and are set to release their next album Singles. I’ve even heard that Ryan Gosling attends their LA shows, and that Jonah Hill tweeted about listening to their music. I’m just honored to have these guys take part in the film.
FC: What recommendations can you give filmmakers when they are going in for that “big” interview, whether it be with the doc’s main subject (Jeff Blinder), Future Islands, Matt Phillips & The Philharmonic, Justin Flythe and Jenny Besetzt, Matt Recko and the Avett Brothers, etc. It seems like something inevitable happens on those ‘big shoot days,’ such as forgetting something, technical problems, etc. Any survival tips when nerves are at play?
EK: Have your questions and points of discussion mapped out in advance. I’m the type of person who has to write something down on paper for it to stick. Find whatever method works for you and run with it. If you are interviewing someone who has a large following, just keep cool. You want whoever you are interviewing to see that you have a distinct goal with your film. They’ll trust you more as a person, and will be open and real with you in regards to their answers. Also, I know its not always possible, but try and speak with people off camera first to set up a connection. Just chill out for a bit and chat with them as a person first before pulling out all the gear. In the event of gear going out, forgetting something, or anything else that goes wrong on a big shoot day just keep on going. There’s rarely a need to bring things to a screeching halt just because a light goes out. Trust yourself and your crew to calmly catch and fix things up.
FC: Where can others find out about attending the next Spazz Fest?
EK: Jeff Blinder would be the go to person for any particular questions regarding this years Spazz Fest in March. It’ll be the fifth and biggest iteration of the festival, and an official website is in the works. Jeff keeps a great presence over on Facebook, and if you check out the link below you’ll find out more about who’s playing, tickets, and show dates. I’ll be there for sure, and I encourage anyone that can come out to Greenville to see Spazz Fest V live for yourselves. It’s a tremendous experience!
FC: What are you currently working on and what’s the plan for the next few years?
EK: I just finished writing the script for an upcoming short film I’m putting together entitled ‘Displacement Welcomed,’ a story about a young girl whose family life is in shambles when she meets a homeless woman with whom she develops a close friendship. There’s a great cast of super talented people attached to this project, and we’re set to begin production in a little under a month. I’m very excited about this one.
I’ve also recently shot a music video for the rapper Judah in Washington DC at the end of last year. The video is set to be released by the label in the about two weeks. It’s a fun video that features a kind of production and style that really throws back to the glory days of the genre while still remaining relevant to what’s going on today. We’re filming his next video in about two months here in North Carolina, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him again– he’s quite a talent!
I’m also getting ready to graduate with my degree in Cinematic Arts and Media Production from East Carolina University in May. I’m looking into New York, LA, and Wilmington, NC, the “Hollywood of the East Coast” as many around here call it. All of those places excite me, and I can see myself working as a filmmaker wherever I may happen to land. I’m on the lookout to partner with others making engaging films as well, and I’m always open to joining with other productions that I can help assist with and make a reality. I’m ready to just get out there and try new things, while making films that tell unique and engaging stories.
My name is Evan Kidd, and I’m the founder of RockSet Productions. Raised in North Carolina, I’m currently a 21-year old college student, and indie filmmaker. I also play the drums, write, and love music. I’ve had an interest in film since a young age. I was always the one to try and film anytime the family video camera was out. In addition to releasing Spazz Out!, I’ve directed several other films including Musically Bound: A Story Of Local Music (2012), Go Hard or Go Home: Azaveus Dickens’ Story (2013), and Kin (2013).
Film is an amazing medium in that you can tell a story to someone, and put them there in the thick of it all. Let them feel what those in the film feel. Let them lay eyes on the same sights. Creating a film is like painting on a fresh canvass. You never know what your going to create. But you get to see it unfold before your own two eyes.
With Spazz Out! I wanted to place the viewer in the midst of Spazz Fest. Immerse them in the music, history, culture, and ultimately the community of great people who care immensely about their music and want it to succeed. I hope you enjoy viewing Spazz Out! and continue to support the film!
What’s up guys my name is Evan Kidd. I’m a filmmaker from North Carolina and I actually recently just created my debut feature film Son Of Clowns. It is a ninety-five minute feature we shot completely independently and it was filmed with the Canon C100.
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