To see the film, click here.
To view the soundtrack, click here!
(scroll down for “Behind The Scenes” details)
BEHIND THE SCENES:
[…from Jules’ perspective. For the perspective of Wideshot Studios, click here!)
After having done some soundtrack work for them, Peter and Diana (director and producer of the brilliant Portland-based Wideshot Studios) asked me in early March, “Would it be okay if we filmed a documentary on you?”
It was to be an entry in the (March 6-10) 2008 International Documentary Challenge, a competition for filmmakers where the basic goal is to create a 4-7 minute documentary starting Thursday at 8:00am, and ending Monday at 11:59pm (for more details, click here). The winning team receives $1,000 and the top 14 films get screened at the Toronto Film Festival. There are numerous other awards to be won, for things like Best Editing, Best Soundtrack or Best Directing. Peter and Diana’s assigned genre was “Biography/Character Study (the theme: Change), and they thought that I, as “The Mixtress” was the best character study they could think of…and as for change, well this project does change the world of music, “one mix at a time”, doesn’t it? ;)
Once I said “absolutely!”, we started making plans. With only 5 days to create this film out of nowhere, time was of the essence! For 3 days straight we filmed. I had movie lights, and microphones/booms all over my apartment, my cat was confused, my office was a mess…and Peter and Di were around me most of the time! I cleared my schedule completely, except for work (where I shot the Liam footage). I was, for the most part — to just walk around and “do my thing”. It was quite a trip, totally fun. Peter and Diana are a dynamic team. On Sunday, Peter was editing, so Diana and I went out and Diana did her first-ever camera work (notice the Post Office shots — we had to film from outside since we couldn’t get a release for filming inside, so Di filmed through the window when she had to). Monday was all about editing, since the film had to be mailed by midnight.
Any time when they were home piecing it together and not filming me, I was working on the soundtrack, as well as rallying up the Mixtress Ninjas to get in their signed releases, along with some film footage of them hiding discs! My job for the soundtrack was to choose songs and get signed official releases for any songs in the movie. Naturally, I went one step further and planned to create my first-ever legal mix, a full-length (80-minute) CD to accompany the film for judging. Of course 80 minutes of music wouldn’t fit into a 7-minute documentary (7 out of 20 songs are in the film), but I felt that given the nature of the project, it would be appropriate! For this I’d also need synchronization licenses to be able to use the songs on the film’s “formal soundtrack”. So I was running around like a crazy person trying to get this done. If I look tired and puffy in the film, it’s because I was on no sleep — staying up until 5am every night to be able to call artists and record labels in other countries during their business hours. I was lucky to have excellent connections and a knack for getting the right information to be able to reach the right person.
Highlights of this experience include: getting to deal directly with the very-supportive Amelia Fletcher of Talulah Gosh/Heavenly; as well as with the legendary Blue Mountain Music label, who relayed permission from the Marley family that it was cool for Liam to sing “Three Little Birds”; The Walkmen (while on tour, so nice of them to help out). Having Los Peyotes use a translator to send their permission and support from Buenos Aires. Receiving the following e-mail from the wonderful Sage Francis: “Haha, you know what? A part of me wishes you had the moxie to do this without ANY permission. This is not something you’re trying to bank on, so you should be like, ‘Man, these artists should just be happy we are offering their music to a new audience for free.’ Of course I respect that you…asked for permission. I agree to all the terms below. Signed, sealed and delivered, Sage Francis”. It was all exhausting but exhilarating! And incredible how so many artists and labels came out in support of The Mixtress Online, some artists giving straight-out permission and some labels really hustling for us to get permission by the deadline. Incredible how the music community bonds together when we need to.
By the end, we all rushing to get it done. Peter hadn’t left his editing software in almost two days, Diana was scrambling to make sure and doubly-sure that all releases were in (without those releases, the film would have been disqualified), and I hadn’t been to work since Friday and had the soundtrack ready to go but was praying that any outstanding soundtrack releases would be on the fax when I got there Monday morning. Were all my reminder e-mails all weekend long good enough to pull it all together the way I’d planned?!
At 10:30pm Monday, Peter and Diana’s car pulled up abruptly in front of my house. I was waiting at the door after many text messages back and forth, all remaining releases and first-ever completely legal soundtrack in hand. It was a silent hand-off, we were all strained and rushed. They were on their way to the Portland Airport post office to get this thing mailed before the competition ended at midnight. I went in my apartment and finally exhaled after however many days. I got the message an hour or so later: it was mailed. We were done. All there was to do was wait. Did we win? Were we in the top 14?
A month later, I got an email from Peter. We had placed at #16 out of 122 qualified entries, 2 shy of being a finalist. We were still up for the other awards, though, so were optimistic. Plus, being #16 was still extremely good, given those numbers! At that point, I joked that if I didn’t win Best Soundtrack I’d shut down The Mixtress Online, since given the nature of what I do here, I would be so embarrassed! Ha!In late April it was announced that “The Mixtress” film had won Best Soundtrack! No cash prize, but bragging rights for all, indeed :)
May 7, 2008: 12 of the documentary films screened at the Hollywood Theater in NE Portland.
“The Mixtress” was the first film shown to a packed theater. Shocking, really — lights went down, “The Mixtress” came up. We were all so surprised that it was selected to run first! It was incredibly well-received. Diana and I had burned 40 copies of the award-winning soundtrack and had hidden them in plain-sight (like the Found Art effort) around the theater and venue for people to find and take home…we had compliments on all of it the entire evening. People had questions about the project and people were intrigued and kept coming up to me to say “expect to hear from me soon about this” or “I’m making you mixes as soon as I get home”. I was applauded when I introduced myself during the Q&A! It was all quite incredible to me. I never expected this kind of growth or reception. The Mixtress Online was just one small idea that’s taken on a life of its own. Who would have thought?
Wideshot Studios and The Mixtress Online plan to film later this summer/fall (in between other projects) for an extended version of this documentary. Keep checking back for updates!