Again I find myself at a loss for what happened in the last few days. The film, years in the making, has started to ship all over the world. For the last 5 years, this blog has kept an account of the genesis, filming and production of a film called Speaking in Code.
That film began shipping from a warehouse in Dallas to each corner of the world. Customers in Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Austria, Canada, right up the street in Jamaica Plain and nearly everywhere else, were shipped their pre-ordered DVDs today (order today at speakingincode.com). It came with extras like a Wolfgang Voigt interview, Modeselektor live and uncut and a well-written 1000-word essay from Philip Sherburne.
And of course, the process of selling this vision to the world has only just begun. Soon, the movie will have the ability to sell in stores. In a few weeks (perhaps months), the DVD will be available on Amazon.com and soon thereafter on iTunes. The idea of taking three years out of our lives to follow certain folks, and tell their stories, is finally coming to fruition. Perhaps in the future a larger company could produce a director’s cut, with way more extra footage, way more interviews and even more added packaging.
Critically, the movie has been very well received, and we’ll continue to share those perspectives with you. The non-traditional format of the film has left some perplexed, though and while the movie very much speaks for itself, there are a few critiques that we’d like to address here.
1. “Why didn’t you include my favorite artist in the movie?
This is probably the most common critique of Speaking in Code. It goes without saying that if we made a movie about everyone’s favorite artist, we would have made a movie that lasts seven days and would have cost 12 mortgages. =)
There’s is also the complaint that the artists featured are not current to the electronic scene, a critique which is laughable at best. If we set out to make a three-year travelogue about some artists who are “cool” now, it would have had to begin before many had even started to make music. Even then, the artists we followed were described as “bleeding-edge” by Pitchfork Media, perhaps the benchmark of music criticism today. So one man’s old hat is another’s new headgear.
When it comes right down to it, the characters in Speaking in Code were simply the ones who made themselves immediately available to us, and were were most willing to let us bother them for a few years. They also opened up to the camera right away and were interesting to watch. It is a movie first, a documentary about cool music second.
2. “There is no point to this movie.”
It strikes me that the people who usually say this about the film are typically the exact people we could have made the movie about. We made Speaking in Code so that the casual viewer, someone who knows next to nothing about electronic music, would understand that there are people behind the computers. We also wanted people who love this music to have a film they could identify with–and from the feedback we’ve received, many techno lovers are drawn to Speaking in Code because they relate to the character’s passion and dedication.
There is no doubt our six stories make a movie about dedication. And that’s the simple point of the film. For some people who have already dedicated themselves to a life of electronic music and who are living the lifestyle, it’s like: “Yeah, so what.” Perhaps it is because this story, really, is, in some ways, about them. Consider SiC, then, a movie not just for those deep inside the scene. It a window into a world, not a mirror.
And the point of the film is to watch these people transform over the years with regard to their life within electronic music. There are also moments which make people laugh out loud and other times we have seen audiences tear up and even cry.
3. “This movie is not about the genre I like.”
I have hated electronic music I don’t like with such vehement passion it would shock you. It took me a few years outside the critical echo chamber to understand that this sort of mentality is, for lack of a better word, unhealthy. It’s much more productive to promote and support the music you like than spend time knocking down the music you don’t. I suppose it’s a product of getting older, in the end.
But again, it’s why the film needed to be made. There is such a passion for electronic music that it drives people to purposeful distinctions–my genre is good, your genre is bad, this artist is old, this one is new–when in fact, people outside of the scene could not only make any discernible distinction one way or the other, they could actually not care any less. Speaking in Code is designed, regardless of distinction, to show why they should care.
When rave music and electronic music was at its height, huge events would be held with all genres (sometimes literally) under one big tent. I’m not proposing we hold hands in unity, but understand that to someone who doesn’t understand electronic music, the difference between drum and bass, say, and trance simply doesn’t exist.
Speaking in Code gets into the creation, promotion, documentation and performance of this music without regard to what is cool and in a verite execution that took years of filming, dedication and personal sacrifice. It dives in head first, as opposed to glancing over the surface. It’s personal perspective is a result of that dedication and execution, and one we are immensely happy with.
And this week, it began to go everywhere the world. Thank you.
We’ve been able to commission another podcast, Speaking in Code Podcast 02, in celebration of the film. Already spread through the email list and Web 2.0 methods, here it is in traditional blog/web 1.0 format:
Over two-and-a-half hours of music from DJ Tobias Thomas, one of the characters in the film. Thomas is a resident DJ within Kompakt, the Koln-based techno shop, distributor and record label.
This special set was part of the after-party for a Valentine’s Day screening of the movie, in conjunction with Together: The New England Electronic Music Festival. Together was the first electronic music festival in Boston.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Wighnomy Brothers officially “broke up” (which makes an amazing coda to the film), yet of course they still continue to make music. Robag’s latest effort “Dreiklangkapriolen” contains this amazing track which, as Resident Advisor points out “it sounds like little else.”
In similar news, one of the coolest parties in the whole world, the Optimo party in Glasgow, Scotland, is coming to an end this month. But not before Optimo releases Fabric 52, another amazing mix similar to the one we helped shepherd through Pitchfork some time ago. This excerpt comes later in the mix and goes from Levon Vincent (”Love Technique”) through Oni Ayhun (”OAR003-B”) and Desire (“Don’t Call”). The whole mix is uncanny brilliance.
The latest offering from Voigt is a resurrection of the legendary Profan label. A fringe record that marries the primitive rhythms and designs of simple techno to the composition of classical music. The strings come and go like a ghost. “Abweichung (n): aberrance, wandering from the correct path, going astray, deviation from what is normal.” A personal, 10-minute interview with the Kompakt head is featured on the DVD.
We first hear this song courtesy of SiC Podcast 02 (see above). Superpitcher and Michael Mayer (rumored to be hard at work on Immer 3) do it yet again in this remake of another Brit-rock buzz band.
This is a tremendously long post. But the movie is now out on DVD … and perhaps I am not at a big of a loss as I originally thought.