Ten-day video challenge creates a snapshot of Adelaide’s music scene

Adelaide Fringe project 10×10 has created an intense hive of activity in the local music and filmmaking scenes that will culminate in an energetic and celebratory screening event at the revitalised Mercury Cinema this Saturday.

Feb 23, 2023, updated Feb 27, 2023
A suburban lounge room provided one of the settings for a music video Iris Wide Shut has shot for local band Blind Coyote's song 'All Night Long'. Photo: Jack Fenby / InReview

A suburban lounge room provided one of the settings for a music video Iris Wide Shut has shot for local band Blind Coyote's song 'All Night Long'. Photo: Jack Fenby / InReview

In a suburban lounge room on an oppressively hot evening, “The Car” by the Arctic Monkeys plays on vinyl. Dozens of people move in and out of the space, rigging lights, setting a camera on a slider, and gathering props that slowly turn the aesthetic of one slice of the room from comfortable inner-Adelaide to Miami Vice.

Just a few days later, at a home studio in the Adelaide Hills, two dancers dressed all in white move sinuously around a gently waving stretch of silken material. Through the lens of a camera, as the material catches the light and the camera roves around it, the scene seems to transform – recalling storm-stained clouds, a roiling ocean and, occasionally, a bright, calm sky.

Moments like these played out across Adelaide in the handful of days following February 15, as local musicians and film-makers were brought together by Adelaide Fringe project 10×10.

The 10×10 format sees 10 filmmakers matched with 10 musicians and the resulting teams tasked with completing a music video in less than 10 days. Only undertaken once previously in Adelaide, in 2008, it’s a concept that has its origins halfway around the world.

“What I love about it is 10×10 really becomes such a snapshot of that time and that moment in that place. This is the Adelaide music scene right now, in 2023,” says Norwood Cheek, an LA-based filmmaker and the creator of the 10×10 format.

Cheek first ran a 10×10 event in Canada about 15 years ago after conducting several short-turnaround filmmaking challenges where participants were required to use Super 8 film. He devised the 10×10 structure when he realised that bringing musicians into the mix could give the filmmakers’ creations greater longevity and purpose.

“With music videos, they inherently have this life because the band is going to use it,” he says. “The band can use this as a tool to kind of help them get gigs or notoriety or just promote their song.

“For filmmakers, what I love about music videos is that with every music video I’ve done I always try to do something new visually, something that I haven’t tried before, and I think that’s what’s exciting about music videos – it’s a time for the filmmakers to kind of experiment.”

For many of the musician participants in this year’s Adelaide 10×10, it is also a fast learning curve as they wade into the world of music video production for the first time.

Singer-songwriter Bindi Blacher’s track “Cyclone Hush” inspired the scenes filmed in the Adelaide Hills studio, where two dancers in white weave among undulating blue silken material.

“It’s probably the most positive and upbeat song of my [upcoming] EP,” Blacher says. “It’s a song that’s about the freedom of movement… that feeling of being embodied and how the power of that can be quite transformative.

“We’re realising it visually now, which is really exciting, because that’s not something I’ve done much of before.”

Bindi Blacher during filming of the music video for ‘Cyclone Hush’. Photo: Tim Harkness

Blacher was paired with filmmaker Adam Jenkins of Deadly Designs Media. Despite a wide range of experience as a filmmaker, including the creation of short films and several music videos, Jenkins saw 10×10 as an opportunity to continue honing his craft while also supporting local musicians.

“The more opportunities you get, the better you get. Practice makes perfect, and I want to be perfect,” he says.

The process between Blacher and Jenkins has been collaborative, with a flowing exchange of ideas and references leading into their one-day shoot.

“It’s something that gives me an opportunity to be creative and out of my comfort zone in some ways,” says Jenkins. “Hearing the song, I thought, ‘I have my own vision’, but rather than me push my agenda on to Bindi, I wanted to let the artist tell the story and give her the creative freedom. And I’ll complement her by making it look good and hopefully enhance the music through the visuals.”

Dancers feature in the video clip for ‘Cyclone Hush’, a song about the freedom of movement. Photo: Tim Harkness

A collaborative mindset also drove the work between filmmaking collective Iris Wide Shut and band Blind Coyote, who shot their music video between the Miami Vice-afied suburban lounge room and across an empty, sweltering late-night Adelaide city.

Blind Coyote guitarist and vocalist Paul Christensen says he and his bandmates put up their hands for 10×10 because they were keen to meet and work with people who were equally enthusiastic about the creative process.

“We’re filming a video for ‘All Night Long’ – it’s about night-time activities,” says Christensen. “I remember writing it in summer, it was just me and a guitar – it was a day like this, super-hot and muggy and about to rain.

“I was on a huge spur and going to lots of gigs and thinking all my songs are a bit sad, a bit morose, so I wrote something with a bit of bop and just followed it down the rabbit hole.”

On hearing the track, Iris Wide Shut’s Meletios Likouresis and Ripley Hart had an immediate response.

“The song has a very Miami Vice feel to it,” says Hart. “We’re just trying to make something fun, a bit over the top and a bit silly for it, because I think it suits the song and shows a bit of our personalities.”

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Ripley Hart and Meletios Likouresis (both left) of Iris Wide Shut and Blind Coyote’s Josh Kilburn (standing, right). Photo: Jack Fenby / InReview

The concept for the “All Night Long” video involves a narrative that follows some contract killers that Likouresis refers to as “happy psychopaths”. It is ambitious for a time- and resource-limited format like 10×10, but the team are undaunted.

“It’s a good incentive,” says Likouresis. “My favourite director is David Lynch and he always says working under restriction is the best, because that’s when the ideas come and flow.

“I just like pushing myself – I like the challenge of pushing myself and just trying to get the best product. The way I’m envisioning it, if I feel like I can shoot it, I just think – why not?”

As well as spurring this hive of activity and collaborations across the Adelaide music and filmmaking scenes, 10×10 is helping both groups reach a wider audience.

Meletios Likouresis of filmmaking collective Iris Wide Shut. Photo: Jack Fenby

After the frenetic activity of the 10-day production window, 10×10 culminates in a public screening on Saturday (February 25), where all the music videos will be shown and some of the bands involved will perform.

Channel 44 and the Mercury have partnered with Adelaide Fringe to support the event, with the screening to be held in the Mercury Cinema and Channel 44 supporting the production of the clips and also broadcasting them.

“The clips are fun, and it’s impressive what they’ve achieved in such a short period time,” says Lauren Hillman, the general manager of Channel 44.

“We support the 48 Hour Film Project every year and I love the fast turnaround and the time pressures that creates, and in a similar way this event creates a hive of activity, which is very Fringe-esque.”

The 10×10 screening will be the first major event held at the Mercury since it underwent a significant restructure following funding issues last year.

Recently installed Mercury interim general manager Lisa Bishop says 10×10 is a fitting way to re-open the organisation’s doors to the public.

“In a nutshell, the aim of the Mercury in the future is to be an independent organisation but with more collaborative partnerships at the heart of everything we do,” says Bishop.

“So, initiatives like 10×10 mean we can collaborate with the likes of Channel 44, the Adelaide Fringe and Norwood Cheek based in LA, to help filmmakers make work. Opportunities to make work will be a centrepiece of what we offer filmmakers when we relaunch.

10×10 is our way of saying we have not closed, and there’s more to come.”

The 10×10 public screening takes place at the Mercury Cinema this Saturday, February 25, from 4pm.

This story is part of a series of articles being produced with the support of Adelaide Fringe.

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