Wednesday 13 December 2023

A shout out from Mike Retter for Adelaide's SAM HYDE FILM FESTIVAL - Free at the Palace Nova Cinema Adelaide on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th December

 Mike Retter writes:

 Sam Hyde giving a fake Ted Talk at Drexel University
called "Paradigm Shift 2070"

The Sam Hyde Film Festival - 
New film festival embraces meme culture and YouTubers 

The Sam Hyde Film Festival is presenting a mixture of experimental video work in Adelaide this Friday and Saturday at Palace Nova. The festival is named after an American artist who started out as a YouTuber and later became a controversial meme. But beyond that controversy, there are a lot of different aesthetic choices in Hyde's work that make him worthy of cinephile attention. So the festival is a mixture of Hyde, his contemporaries and local filmmakers operating in an "artistic youtube" style. We spoke with Leroy, the creator of this event about why it's a good idea to put contemporary online work in the cinema. 

Leroy: There is a lot of great filmmaking today that is entirely online.. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be presented publicly in a cinema. In-fact it's quite odd that such work is rarely screened publicly when you consider how popular it is. Apart from Marvel movies and a few horror films, people are actually opting-out of contemporary cinema and choosing a mixture of long-form entertainment and youtube. But it's the latter, the independent youtubers that are speaking most to experimental cinema, even if the more beret-wearing haven't heard about that yet.  

Jet Neptune's Community Hour

Why is the festival named after Sam Hyde?

Sam Hyde is one of the icons that have emerged from YouTube and become this generation's Andy Warhol. The work often involves radical form and editing with a strong emphasis on graphic design. Early Hyde is often inspired by the "magazine program" format of Liquid Television or similar shows in Australia like Eat Carpet. The best way for people to learn about him is to experience his work and we have curated some of the best material from the start of his career to the present for this festival. Night one (Friday 15th, December) will have a classic documentary about Sam Hyde called "Blacklisted" and night two will have a documentary Sam Hyde shot while another documentary was being made about him by fellow youtuber Idubbbz. When Idubbbz refused to release his own documentary, Hyde decided to edit one from the footage he created himself.. It's an interesting dialogue between two prominent youtube artists and quite historic. 

Both nights also have a variety of important experimental shorts not just from Hyde, but also from his contemporaries such as Jet Neptune, acolytes and just interesting artists, mixture of local and international. Very excited to show some early work by Jet Neptune who would later become a Hyde collaborator. He has an incredible eye for editing and is able to take everyday footage and sculpt it into art. An obscure creator called Devived has submitted some exhilarating pieces too. Much of this is full of experimentation and constitutes the contemporary digital avant-garde. We can get a bit bogged down with labels and what qualifies as this or that. But we have to remember that David Lynch lived in poverty as a nobody to make his early experimental work, including Eraserhead. As did many others who we champion today in the academies. Some artists aren't appreciated in their own time. It takes a while for people to become canonised and acknowledged .. And academia has an unprecedented moat around it, so it's unlikely that they will be contextualising this work in any meaningful way soon.   

Why would academia ignore this work?

Academia is a bit slow and the world is moving fast. Like academia, in Australia almost all conventional filmmaking is funded by the Government. This allows them a level of control over the content because they fund it and much of the film culture surrounding it. The last thing the system wants is independent-minded work created outside their sphere of influence. And even outside that system, there is a lot of corporate censorship on platforms such as YouTube, which you could argue is the same thing in academia because corporations ultimately influence Governments. But this is fine, it creates opportunities for people like us to present the work and drive culture because there is an unmet need. Technology has enabled the average person to do a lot.  

Adelaide's Philippou Brothers, AKA Rackaracka and
their underwater car stunt

Why do an event like this in Adelaide and what kind of local work will be shown?

Well I'm from Adelaide so I have no interest in doing it anywhere else. And Adelaide being an obscure place adds an extra bit of randomness to things. We have a very interesting filmmaking history here, from the early days of the SAFC with Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Breaker Morant (1980), Gallipoli (1981) and Bad Boy Bubby (1993). 

But when you look at the present, who are the most successful filmmakers in Adelaide? Well that would be the Philippou Brothers, AKA "Rackaracka", who are YouTubers. They haven't just mastered the viral video for YouTube, they have now made Talk to Me, an internationally successful horror feature film. That's right, a rare Australian film that actually made money! But their journey to making this hit movie wasn't a conventional one. As far as I know, they didn't go to university but learned the nuts and bolts of video production at a TAFE equivalent called MAPS under the tutelage of the iconoclastic Peter Thurmer. They then went on to make work in various forms and genres for youtube, often incredibly violent and controversial, culminating in a stunt that made national news and could have put them in jail. This involved creating a car filled with water to the roof so that passengers had to breathe through tubes or scuba gear. Their vision of the road while driving would be diffused through several feet of murky water. So they then took this car on the road and visited a drive-through alcohol shop..  

This stunt reminds me a little bit of Orson Welles and his 1938 "War Of The Worlds" mock-alien invasion live radio news bulletin. Many Americans were convinced by this broadcast that aliens were invading planet earth because it was presented as a news report and not just a conventional radio play. After this event, Welles had to be very apologetic to the nation or perhaps face some harsh legal punishment. But this national news story ultimately led him to becoming a huge star overnight and being given unheard of creative freedom for his wildly innovative debut feature film Citizen Kane. Welles was using radio in an experimental way with all the impulsiveness of a 23 year old. He would complete Kane by the age of 25 and with no conventional training - change cinema. Like Welles and Hyde, I think the Philippou Brothers pathway to success was built on breaking the rules and their work as youtubers. So we will be presenting the under-water-car video at the Sam Hyde Film Festival on night two. 

Molly Husan's Four Years One Day

What other local films will you be showing? 

We have a textured film clip from Molly Husan that is very melancholic. A bizarre and hilarious animation by Zach Sengstock. There is a direct tribute to some of Hyde's work, a kind of Aussie remake of the "Wine Party" sketch.. And some work by the Port Film Co-op including a film clip for Adelaide band Night Rites and collaboration with Russian martial artist called Kolesnikov's World. It should be a good night where local filmmakers can meet each other. 

Admission is free for this event, how is it all being funded?

Yeah we felt it was important to make this one accessible.. It feels like a bit of an experiment.. The entire event is funded by the Cinematic Cultural Research Unit (CCRU), an independent group partly operating out of an office in Adelaide University.  We are hardcore film buffs who obsessively study certain things and want to inject some life into film culture. Despite embracing a lot of new online filmmakers, we prefer to operate away from social media. So the best way to learn more about us is come along to the screenings. 

You can attend the Sam Hyde Film Festival over two nights 6:30pm this friday/Saturday (15th and 16th December) at the Palace Nova East End Cinema. This is a free event. 

Goodbye by Devived 

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