The Free Music Archive and WFMU are holding a remix contest to demonstrate the potential of open digital libraries, inviting users to remix the Public Domain.
While I don’t have a great deal of free time, this idea has great appeal for me. By chance I had some time last weekend to peruse the archives, find some material, and put together an entry. I’ve never made a remix before, and I had a great deal of fun doing this one.
The most time-consuming part was finding a topic and selecting the material. Since I’m fascinated by the affordances of technology that bring new voices to individuals engaged in one of the oldest forms of communication, storytelling, I decided to concentrate on amateur and home movies. The Free Music Archive is filled with music from talented artists. I looked for titles corresponding to one of my underlying themes, the passage of time, and then filtered by genre. Although the search tools aren’t very practical, it didn’t take me long to find two truly excellent pieces to serve as my film’s soundtrack.
Once I had the soundtrack down, selecting clips and making a story was a matter of editing. I listened to the soundtrack in a loop while selecting the clips and putting together the final compositions. It was intense and took the better part of two evenings, but I found it highly satisfying.
The clips I chose were filmed in the US between 1930 and 1950. I included a few reminders of the second World War, as well as some nice footage of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge before construction of the roadway. I was mesmerized watching these home movies and thinking about the parallels between the changes in society brought about by the arrival of technology in the early twentieth century and the present. We take for granted now the accessibility of energy, transportation, and recording media such as photography, but at that time these were relatively new to the masses. I also enjoyed discovering their world through their eyes. I included a long sequence of clips filmed by Ivan Besse in Britton, South Dakota during the Depression. Watching people react to the camera was captivating, and I was struck at how happy, friendly and hopeful they all seemed. I found myself wondering who they were, who they loved, and what was important to them.
The deadline for entries was extended in consideration of those recovering from damage caused by hurricane Sandy, which was also helpful for me, because although I finished the film last Monday, it took me all week to have a chance to put together the final credits, start the rendering and upload the film.
If this inspires you, there is still time to submit an entry if you hurry. You have until tomorrow, November 11th at 11:59pm EST.