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Beastie Boys make new kind of concert video with film

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff
Awesome, I F**ckn Shot That! was filmed by 50 fans at the Beastie Boys show on Oct. 9, 2004, in Madison Square Garden.
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The idea for "Awesome; I F**kin’ Shot That!" came to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch one night when he was checking the message boards on the Beastie Boys Web site.

A fan had posted a video clip from one of the band’s concerts.

"He had shot it on his camera phone so it was extremely low-res and had a bit of a strobe effect because of the low frame rate. And the fact that it was hand-held looked cool." explained Yauch in the film’s press notes. "I thought it would be interesting to document a whole concert like that."

So Yauch pitched an idea to his band mates. They would give video-cameras to 50 audience members to document a concert. They executed the idea at their Oct. 9, 2004 concert in Madison Square Garden. There, producer Jon Doran gave a pep talk to the assembled amateur cinematographers.

"You can look at this in 20 years," he tells the crew, "and say, ‘Awesome; I f**kin’ shot that’"

Directed by Yauch under his alias, Nathaniel Hornblower, the film is a complete documentation of the Beastie Boys’ Madison Square Garden show.

Shot mostly on hi-8 video recorders along with a few DV cameras, the 90-minute movie is a tightly edited music-video writ large, rifling from one angle to the next, alternating back and forth between cameras, taking full advantage of video effects and the cinematographers’ enthusiasm.

Some of the camera people shot the crowd, others shot the stage. Some shot at a wide angle and others zoomed in, and one fan even took his camera along for a trip to the Garden’s bathrooms, but the camera operators stayed true to Doran’s one cardinal instruction. Keep the video rolling.

The footage is mostly rough, occasionally hilarious, occasionally intense and nearly always amateur, but while the cameras shake and the visual quality occasionally lacks, the film makes a viewer feel like he or she was there, in each one of the 50 locations for the whole concert.

According to Yauch, the Beastie Boys chose their cinematographers by posting an announcement on their Web site, picking the camera operators by where they were sitting. But, Yauch said, the group didn’t spend too much time planning.

"It was really a last-minute decision," he said at a press conference on Saturday.

Three days before the show at the Garden, they decided that show would be a great one to film. But at the same time, they had no idea what would happen.

"It was more like an experiment to see if it worked," said Michael Diamond, Mike D in the band. Yauch said he knew the idea had worked when he saw the video.

"I liked the way it looked, right away," he said. "My first reaction was that the hi-8 looked way cooler because of the edge on it."

The grainy video, he said, gave the concert a different quality than the smooth DV.

While the band originally conceived the project as a concert DVD, when they saw the material, they began to think about putting together a film in a feature format.

To put the film together, Yauch said he and his team loaded the films into Final Cut Pro and adjusted the timing to match the audio, which was recorded from the soundboard. Then, a team of three editors each took a group of films and made an initial cut. After that, Yauch and his editors sat down to make second and third cuts and add effects.

Overall, the editing took almost a year. Yauch, who has directed several of the Beastie Boys’ music videos under his Hornblower alias, said the process was much like that of a music video, just significantly longer.

He also said the project might serve as a jumping-off point for him. Yauch does have hopes of making another feature, dramatic story about a group of graffiti writers set in 1981.

"I did write a script with a friend," he said.

So he’ll have something to do this week, when he’s not promoting his current film. But at the press conference on Saturday, and likely for much of the rest of the week, his and the band’s emphasis will be there. Yauch said he thought the time and the effort on the project were worthwhile, and his band mates agreed.

"The thing that I really like about the movie is that the people shot it," said Michael Diamond, aka, Mike D.

"I wanted to see what’s going on with the audience," said Adam Horovitz, the Beastie Boys’ Adrock. "I think it’s really cool to see that perspective."

"I definitely think that seeing it from an audience perspective is a lot more powerful," he said. "You definitely get a different feeling watching film from the people that are into it."

"Awesome; I F**kin’ Shot That!" plays Friday, Jan. 27 at midnight in Broadway Center Cinemas IV in Salt lake City and Saturday Jan. 28 at 3:15 p.m. at Holiday Village Cinema III in Park City. For more information, visit http://www.sundance.org.


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