rock nyc Films A Commercial
I’d been thinking about a branding exercise for rock nyc for months and months, just an idea but nothing I wanted to pursue. I spoke with my friend, True Groove label chief Tomas Doncker, who said it was doable, but even so I just left it as a thought… then two things happened…
1 – I saw the video for Tomas’ “Some Ol’ Dolls” and was overwhelmed with admiration for the director Dylan Mars Greenberg and was convinced his vision could bring magic to just about anything. I watched Dylan’s latest movie, “Re-Agitator: Revenge Of The Parody,” a low budget explosion of sound and vision with a neon, unsettled sense of self and other worldliness. It looks like high camp but its resetting of the Dr. Frankenstein story has serious things happening over and over again. I knew that if I wanted people to pay attention to rock nyc, Dylan could give it the ideas and style to sell it.
2 – The fifteen year old actress Zoe Wilson. I saw her in a reading of Marla Mase’s “The Pill” and was overwhelmed by a performance that, when it moves to La Mama in January, should win her an Obie. Throughout the play, Zoe is on the razors edge between making teenage tragedy glamorous and deadly. The reason she manages to play so close to the bone is because when she falls apart in the play, she truly falls apart. Whether crying while being to taken to a sanitarium or melting down as a child at Disneyworld, Zoe makes the ease of her other moments appear like extreme relief, like what is happening in front of the mask and then is dropped. The icing on the cake for Zoe was her performance in the “Sing It, White Effie” fifth episode of the fifth season of “Orange Is the New Black”. Zoe belts out “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” from Dreamgirls, and steals the show.
I knew Zoe looked the way rock nyc felt (Ellen Bach once dubbed me a teenage girl in a grown man’s body) and Dylan had the ideas and the energy I hoped rock nyc stood for: not any political or musical view, just tons of energy and attitude.
So I turned to Tomas who took on producing, as well as performing, on the project. I’ve been close friends with Tomas for years now, starting as a fan and slowly becoming good mates. Even so, he went above and beyond for rock nyc. Essentially, he produced the entire show out of the goodness of his heart, his only reward was helping me, and that sense of giving was at the heart of the filming last night in Manhattan. Everybody gave more than was needed, both in time and encouragement. Especially Marla Mase and her son Yanai Feldman, who took time from grieving to spend time with us.
The idea was simple, performers read excerpts from rock nyc reviews, and after the reading the hook from a song by the artist was (actually, will be later in the studio) was sung. I expected Zoe to be great and she was great, and there is no doubt I will be bragging to friends, sooner rather than later, “Yes, I’ve met Zoe, sure, here’s a picture of us together.” But everybody was great, starting with rapper JSwiss, a new age Kendrick who is about rapping to an astonishing degree, and who Tomas had talking about Taylor Swift and Jethro Tull which he pulled off with great conviction he didn’t much feel. Annette Arnold, reading Ellen on Elton, became a teenage girl jumping on her bed before our eyes, Yanai took direction from Tomas and Dylan, before nailing a passage from my “Police Are The Worst Band Ever” story, better still he channeled both Nick Cave and Alyson Camus on a terrific excerpt from Alyson’s live review. Marla’s crazy Pro Era roar: “I WAS THE BLACKEST PERSON THERE” was hysterical in its bafflement. There were many highlights, mostly highlights, even all highlights.
But my two favorite moments weren’t actually filmed. First was Tomas working out Chance The Rapper’s “Same Drugs” –a vocal tour de force so tender… I taped it for my own consumption, and a song he should definitely record. The other moment really moved me as a quick proof of the joy of creation: Tomas and Zoe figuring out the hook to the Supremes “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Watching the two working on the song side by side was very moving, hearing them figure out the indelible classic was one of the moments in music I live for.
Then, Dylan took down the Green Screen, we cleaned up the meeting room and left, as though we had never been there. The only proof will be arriving soon enough when I post the commercial.