Beastie Movie

This is a really cool concept:

PARK CITY, Utah — Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and you’ll eventually get Hamlet. Give enough Beastie Boy fans video cameras and you have Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That — the first concert film, or big-time film of any kind, shot by amateurs.

The Beasties, an iconoclastic, 40-something hip-hop band, handed out 55 Hi-8 and six digital video cameras at a Madison Square Garden on October 9, 2004. They also gave their untrained videographers some simple instructions: do whatever you want — rock out, act like a filmmaker, try and sneak backstage — but keep rolling tape.

When the show was done, band member Adam Yauch (aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hörnblowér) spent a year editing the very raw footage into Awesome, a new kind of concert film premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival. Yauch is credited as the film’s director.

And think about the budgets involved in this project:

  • 55 Hi-8 cameras – (estimated safely) $500/camera = $27,000
  • 6 DV cameras – (estimated) $5000/camera = $30,000

An entire movie, albeit a new style (very much in the Beastie Boys realm, by the way) for a total production price of $57,000. Now, certainly a year worth of editing time could be expensive, but since I’m assuming this was a labor of love, I’m not going to count that in here.

But seriously, consider a film production budget of $57,000. They only have to sell 3000 copies to recoup their entire investment. And considering that the Beasties have a pretty big fan base, I doubt that’ll be a problem.

OK, so maybe the final costs are a bit more… but I’m not sure that they really needed to be. Again, labor of love probably drove the time spent a bit higher than truly necessary.

But the final product, a $1.2 million film, is anything but low rent. Three teams of editors, working on Macs with Final Cut Pro, built three initial cuts, which Yauch and editor Neal Usatin then melded into one.

But here’s the best quote…

"What I really like about the movie is that the people shot it," he said. "That’s the essence of hip-hop or punk. It’s not like ‘these people made it.’ We all made it together."

What a great way to not only involve your fans, but produce a cool new product as an outcome.