Monday, May 16, 2005

Neistats vs. Sonics...

Check out the Neistat Brothers website and their movies here.

The actual six minute movie in question is here

Lee Ranaldo of the band Sonic Youth mugs for the camera during the Wall Street fund-raiser that featured a Neistat brothers film.

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This kind of sneaky, by-the-seat-of-their-pants modus operandi mixed with brashness is how they work. When indie rock stars Sonic Youth declined to be in the LMCC movie, the Neistats sent an angry letter to the band along with a DVD, chiding the rock stars for an attitude that, admittedly, the Neistats themselves can exude. After receiving the package and realizing the growing cult status of the brothers, Sonic Youth changed their mind, but it was too late; Thursday's fund-raiser was looming, and the brothers were already over it.

On Thursday afternoon, as the $1,500 dollar-a-plate Downtown Dinner fund-raiser was gearing up, the Neistats were still engaging in subterfuge. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council wanted the brothers to do a dry run with the audio-video technicians a few hours before the event began. Van and Casey managed to finish two versions of their short movie (finishing around 6 a.m. that morning): one a basic audio-video test bearing only a few video clips, and the other the real directors' cut. They screened the test film.

The party was at the swanky Cipriani Restaurant on Wall Street, and the Neistats worked the crowd like pros. In addition to Hillary Clinton and Schumer, VIPs included developers Dan and John Tishman, and Sonic Youth, who were the target of more Neistat invective, as the brothers took the opportunity to ridicule the band on the red carpet. (The Neistats always travel with a camera, and it is usually on.) Casey scored at least two phone numbers from cute assistants working the event.

Before sitting down to her table, Clinton smiled at the mention of the brothers. “I loved being part of their video effort, which I guess we're going to see unveiled tonight,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. I'm thrilled, thrilled! I can't wait. They're so cute.”

During the salad course, the real film hit two large video screens above the audience.

The opening credits showed Casey and Van covering the city with graffiti, drawing on police cars with permanent marker and spray-painting Schumer's name on the side of a building. The short interviews with the senators and the Tishmans followed.

The twist that the brothers kept out of the test video was an unscripted moment with each interviewee in which they provide paper, ruler, and red and black markers and ask for an impromptu creation of art. Dan Tishman constructed a building-like sculpture in three dimensions, while Clinton drew black squares and scribbles all over the page in red, writing, “Think outside the box.”

The video ended with Casey talking on his cell-phone, saying, “Yeah, Sonic Youth isn't in the video, but I guess we should at least mention their name.”

Everyone laughed (except Sonic Youth).


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