Sunday, December 31, 2017

Addovolt Explorations: Greenery

This latest addition to the Addovolt Explorations quick documentaries series hits you right in the pocket.

The Money Museum inside the Federal Bank building is the place to go when you're feeling Scrooge McDuck-y, needing to be surrounded by wads of cash, and want to learn a thing or two about the American monetary system.

The video is HERE on YouTube and more Addovolt Explorations are listed HERE.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Baby Magic's music video, "Don't Mess With Me" press release

Mary Beth Brennan and her ragtag band of no-wave rockers, The Baby Magic, are here to warm up your devices with their dark Christmas music video.  "Don't Mess With Me", off of the Chicago trio's most recent album, Rent a Place in Hell, has dropped and it's 3 minutes of holiday fun to rile up your whole family.

The music video is here:

The Baby Magic is lead vocalist/keyboardist Mary Beth Brennan, guitarist/back up vocalist Patrick Coleman, and drummer Santiago Guerrero.  Their Bandcamp page is here:

The music video was directed by filmmaker Derek Quint (Addovolt Productions) and features actor Michael Massett as a not-so-jolly Santa character.

all pics by Derek Quint

The Baby Magic lead vocalist/keyboardist, Mary Beth Brennan

The Baby Magic guitarist/back up vocalist, Patrick Coleman

The Baby Magic drummer, Santiago Guerrero

actor Michael Massett as Der Belsnickel

Featured Project

Our featured project right now is The Baby Magic's new music video for "Don't Mess With Me".  Get electrified by some darksided yuletide tidings right HERE

The Baby Magic's "Don't Mess With Me" music video

It's a Christmasy music video for a song that doesn't necessarily tie itself in to November/December festivities......but it could.  It does, in an abstract way I guess, but it doesn't have to.

Der Belsnickel's rap/poem/warning sequence was mixed into the song/video last-minute and that, definitely, ties everything up with a nice, red, seasonal bow.

We're having our fruitcake and eating it too.  Michael Massett portrays an antagonistic Belsnickel so that this short journey doesn't get too saccharine-sweet (we can't have any of that).

Are there a couple of nods to "A Christmas Story", "Christmas Vacation", and "Home Alone"?  Well, yeah, of course.  That would be dumb not to.  This mess was shot in Chicago in all of its Midwestern, snowy glory so I'm just being traditional, sentimental.  I also was thinking about John Waters' "Female Trouble" and the old Pee-wee Herman stuff a little bit too.

The music video for The Baby Magic's "Don't Mess With Me" is HERE.  The song is from their album, Rent A Place In Hell (2014).

More music from The Baby Magic in on their Bandcamp page.

Additional stills from this project are below plus an image transcription of Belsnickel's heartwarming message that you can recite to all your family and friends.

This project premiered online December 14th, 2017 and has been featured on Radio One Chicago and in Punk Globe Magazine.

Lead singer, Mary Beth Brennan, contemplates the important things in life

Guitarist, Patrick Coleman, gets more than he bargained for

get your game on:  drummer Santiago Guerrero

Michael Massett as Der Belsnickel

Patrick Coleman takes a break from devious planning to pose alongside the video's director, Derek Quint

delicious:  we got lucky and ended up having the shoot during Chicago's very few snowy days in 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Addovolt Explorations: (re)Purposeful

This month, we wanted to talk about places that started out as one thing but ended up as something else entirely.

The fascinating locations that we feature in this quick doc are mostly Windy City sites (The Chicago Cultural Center, Andersonville's Brown Elephant, The Essanay Building, The Ghost Church of Pilsen, and Wicker Park's Vitamin Vault) with one exception (the Traverse City Commons in Michigan).

Three narrators because why not?:  Nancy Quint (history buff and my mother!), co-director Jack Syron, and writer-director Derek Quint.

This month's edition of Addovolt Explorations, "(re)Purposeful", is a little bit longer than the usual quick docs but there was a lot of ground to cover (literally).  The video is HERE on YouTube.  Still photos from this project are below.

The other Addovolt Explorations are HERE.

co-director and narrator Jack Syron (and some random customers in the background) focusing on health at the Vitamin Vault

most places that sell 8 different flavors of Doritos don't have ornate ceilings or skylights but the Vitamin Vault Walgreens--a former bank--isn't a typical drug store

old-school drugstore artifacts displayed within the Vitamin Vault

Jack checking the milligrams

view of Pilsen's Ghost Church from 19th Street

the peak of the steeple showing modern reinforcements

a protective shield covers the crucifix; the building is more of an historic brick shell than anything else by this point

still holds up:  a view of the church from Peoria Street

The former Essanay movie studio is now a series of residences

terracotta embellishments framing the front entrance

historical plaque describing the building's history

a slot hatch on the side of the Essanay building (is this where silent movie actors would drop their headshots?  probably not)

the original use of this address on Clark Street is clear from the words above the top window

chipped murals on the walls behind shelves selling used books

director Derek Quint, oblivious to his surroundings

performance art:  ragged but still charming details within the main (former) auditorium space

Traverse City Commons was an expansive asylum that's been rehabbed for multiple current uses

one of the abandoned buildings in the back on the Traverse Commons complex tagged, appropriately, with "Cruel Summer" in pastel pink

American Gothic:  some structures at the Commons are still on the to-do list when it comes to repairs

 narrator Nancy Quint goes full-on Nancy Drew outside one of the abandoned houses at the Commons; the over-the-top "KEEP OUT" sign couldn't be more perfect

The Chicago Cultural Center used to be a (ridiculously lavish) library

intricate tilework on one of the main staircases

quotes from classic authors are in mosaics all over the building; this one reads:  "A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."--Milton

and last but not least:  the ceiling of the Preston Bradley Hall inside the Chicago Cultural Center

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Whoever did this, I love it.  And whoever added that wonky little Pac-Man eating the ice cream, I love that too.  ♡  This is a photo from a place where we were recently shooting at in Gary, IN.  Gary, IN is wonderful.

Sometimes people get weirded-out by what I do:

"Why make a film that has less than a million dollar budget?"

"Will it be at the movie theater?  If not, what's the point?"

"If you're not going to make a substantial amount of money from this project........why do it?"

The best thing that I can come up with makes a comparison that tends to be overused.  I read a quote somewhere about how everyone who works in some kind of creative field is constantly comparing their format to music.  We're all saying that we're like musicians even when we're not making music!

But that's fine.  It's a workable comparison because the askers understand when you use music-making as a metaphor for whatever it is that you do.  It's helpful and people get the gist of it.

So let's do it now.

There are the mainstream, big-time, fancy singers/bands/musicians who get played on Top 40 radio, have their songs blasting out of Chevy commercials during the Super Bowl, and sell out United Center.  I like a lot of those bands.  I have no problem with them.  Some of them are super-talented and they'll be around and loved for decades whereas different ones align perfectly with the zeitgeist at the moment, they'll make a fortune, and they'll be gone in a few years into wealthy retirement and "Do You Remember When?" trivia.  And that's okay too.  Some of the major players will stick around and some of them are only temporary for right now.  I have, and do, buy music from both types of super-acts.

In the music world--more so than in the film world--there are respected spaces for indie bands, underground punk bands, smaller acts, genre experts, and foreign artists who resonate with certain kinds of bases but they're not going to sell out United Center or, maybe, even The Metro.  They're for small clubs and hipster bar venues and that's fine.  They aren't featured in Entertainment Weekly.  You won't find articles about them in Rolling Stone or NME (but you will find them on small, stranger blogs and sites and, yes, they'll be playing at a venue near you within the next few months or so).  But they don't get major funding and you won't see their ads in Target.  And that's okay.

In America, some of the goth bands that I love (that I buy music from and go to see their shows), for example, would never, ever in a million years get big $ chunks for a large, fancy tour with elaborate, mechanized sets, corporate advertising, some dancers, and some pyrotechnics too (which many of them wouldn't want anyway, but I digress.....).  No.  It's not going to happen.  The profit margin isn't there and the audience isn't big enough.  No one would want to invest in that because they're not stupid or financially suicidal.  Rather than stomp my feet or pout about that, I respect their realism.  The fallout would be tremendous.

Those smaller acts, however, will be playing their shows, recording albums, doing music videos, hustling to get their work mentioned, and getting write-up's here and there.  Some of them will go into debt creating their work and touring, some of them will break even ($), some of them will get little chunks of funding from random sources, and some of them may even make a decent amount of money doing what they do.  Not mansion money, mind you, but pay-the-rent, fund-the-next-album money with some leftovers to set aside in the bank.  Which isn't tragic.

Not all bands need to be selling out United Center.  Some of them make bizarre, challenging, experimental music that isn't for everyone.  I love pop music!.......but I'm also really, really glad that there are other bands around too--smaller bands--that offer other kinds of song flavors, themes, narratives, structures, and textures that aren't, and never will be, featured on iHeartRadio because their audience wouldn't strongly respond to certain kinds of music, they won't profit off of that kind of stuff, and that's understandable. 

Sometimes--every once in a while--small acts turn major because conditions arise, moments slide against each other just so, and things simply happen for various reasons.  Sometimes those acts that go from small-to-big stay on the larger end of the spectrum and sometimes they're only big for a moment and then get smallish again and that's that.  Which is fine too.  Some egos accept that arc, while other ones implode.  It depends.

We have to have our major act bands!  Yes, absolutely.  And we also need some indie rappers, punk bands, metal bands, and quirky synth musicians too.  Do you catch my drift?   

At heart, in my personal life, I'm a realist--not a fantasist--no matter what you may assume from the themes of my work.  I'm actually kind of a hardcore realist, come to mention it.

I'm an independent filmmaker, not a musician. 

I love going to the movie theaters in Chicago and I love watching movies at home too.  I'll go pay money to see the superhero films, the remakes, the bombs, the phenomenons, and the classics. Anything.  I'll pay to watch odd, small films online and then I'll go to the art house theaters to see films that I'll cherish forever as well as films that I'll end up hating too (that's the risk that you take!  Oh well.).

I'm the anti-snob because I'm culturally greedy and I want everything.  All of it.  I love and appreciate all kinds of things and people.  I'm extremely easy to entertain, I'm open-minded to a dangerous degree, and I don't get bored. 

My favorite favorite kinds of films are cult films.  "Rocky Horror",  Derek Jarman, Kenneth Anger, Mya Deren, Gaspar Noe, and "Wicker Man".  As a creator, that's the tradition that I follow, the road that I ride through, the path that I'm on that exists because of my artistic forefathers and mothers.  I'm lucky because my sensibilities--as a filmmaker--are generally affordable.  If I needed robot-dinosaur CGI, burning buildings, and exploding tanks to fulfill my story visions, I'd have some really big problems.  I'd be up Shit Creek since I don't have access to $50 million+ budgeting structures.  Fortunately, I like people, locations, costumes, and unorthodox scenarios.  I'll be okay (thank goodness!). 

There is an audience for cult films.  It may not be as big as the audience for "The Fast and the Furious" but, regardless, there is still an audience.

If I were a musician, I'd be making weird synth music that sometimes features really catchy hooks and other songs would be so out-there that people--even those from my small fan base--would be like "Ugh, why did he include that song on the album?".  I'd be an acquired taste working with a limited budget.  Just like I am now.

People can handle and appreciate indie bands and unusual music acts from unusual sources.  They can also handle and appreciate unusual films from unusual sources too.  There are spaces for everyone and all should be given room to work their crafts no matter what the results look like, sound like, and whatever the profit margins will (or won't) be.  The clarity that exists when it comes to understanding independent musicians and their motivations isn't quite there when it comes to understanding independent filmmakers and their motivations.  Hopefully I'm articulating my point well enough.

We have to have the Mains and we have to have the others too.  That's the healthy way.  Tons of others without Mains would create a collapse.  Only Mains, without others, would create stagnant genres.  Having both is the only way to go.  The rivers feed the lakes which connect to oceans which go into the earth, change their chemistries, and turn into streams which lead to rivers.  It's all part of the cycle and so are we.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"October" in November

Tara Smith as a sorceress in the "October Sketches" short film

There's a collection of short films that I have done/am doing/will do called Vault Projections.  I've done a few of them over the last 7-8 years and they're conceived to number out at 17.  I'll be working on them and adding to this particular series of shorts, bit by bit, among other film projects, throughout my life.  Some people would see this as slightly morbid but I think it's fun.

As a connective tissue shared by all of them, each film's narrative is centered on timelessness and mythology (which can be overt or roundabout).  That can mean fairy tale fluff or slanted variations on reality, in some measurement, to some degree.

All short films.

I was thinking about the short film that I collaborated on last year with author Ashley Sant--"October Sketches"--and how that project definitely fits within the Vault Projections framework, 100%, but I didn't realize it at first because the story in "October Sketches" is ultra simple, very minimalist.

Stories don't have to be convoluted in order to be impactful, memorable, or to make whatever their respective points are.  The themes (imagination, magic, etc.) of this short absolutely gel and contrast with the other films in this series.  Why didn't I realize this before?

"October Sketches" belongs in the Vault Projections--as film #4 out of 17--and that's where it's going to go.

13 more to do.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Addovolt Explorations: Union Departures

A fast, informative spin through Chicago's oldest existing cemetery, narrated by Remy Osborne.

The "Union Departures" episode of Addovolt Explorations is right HERE on YouTube.

More Addovolt Explorations are HERE.

The Schillinger mausoleum in Union Ridge Cemetery, complete with cherub detail, dated to 1913.  The "Addovolt Explorations:  Union departures" quick doc was shot in the middle of a thunderstorm (why chose any other time?) so ignore the "orbs".  They're raindrops (at least we assume they are....).

Civil War veterans' graves and their cannon.

After having performed in a number of different Addovolt Productions, Remy Osborne takes on narration duties.  Thanks, Remy!