Friday, November 21, 2008
Battle of the Album Covers
If you want high quality: http://www.manvsmagnet.com/motion/album/album.mov
Director: Ugly Pictures (Rohitash Rao)
Running Time: 2:34
Source: YouTube & ManvsMagnet
Battle of the Album Covers wasn't intended to be an online success. It was a commissioned piece of work for the annual charity event in New York City called "Battle of the Ad Bands." Ugly Pictures co-founder Rohitash Rao had created a two and a half minute film the year before, where it featured people fighting in an alleyway with different instruments. For the 2006 show, Rohitash Rao wanted to go a different route. He worked with designer/artist ManvsMagnet (Matt Smithson) to create a film not with figurines, but with the album covers themselves.
The two minute film has a simple plot: the album covers fight against each other, and there's multiple fights to boot. Dead Kennedy's logo versus Van Halen's logo. AC/DC's cannon shooting down Def Leppard's building. Rick James shooting down Billy Joel. Ozzy Osbourne's Bark at the Moon biting the heads off of people. It's hilarious and wacky, styled in the way of Monty Python's images ala Holy Grail fame... meeting Celebrity Deathmatch.
“The reaction was so amazing — nobody could hear the sound because people were cheering so loud,” says Ugly Pictures’s co-founder Rohitash Rao in a interview with Boston newspaper The Phoenix. “Minutes after the screening was over, people demanded a copy. The next day, we tried to put it on YouTube and somebody had already put it on there.”
Ugly Pictures, ManvsMagnet and Rohitash Rao had no issues with their film being shown online before they did. Because of this, in 2006, the video became an online hit. Thousands of plays occurred and it was a top watched video on YouTube and the internet. It's still a viral favorite with many people, particularly in the teen and college age groups.
It's not very surprising that the video was already online before the creators themselves put it up. In this day and age, when a film is shown to the public and a high interest grows because of it, the video will be online within a couple of hours. But in the case of "Battle of the Album Covers," this happened before the creator's consent. It happened without the creators knowing this was already up.
In the film industry right now, there is a hot debate still brewing about the issue of copyright laws and the internet. People torrent films in the theaters right now, in order to avoid spending money. Industry folk blame illegal downloading to the lack of ticket sales and revenue occurring in the business right now. It's understandable how that applies to features, as millions of dollars are spent on some high-production quality movies. But does that philosophy apply to shorts?
Filmmakers have the right to put them on YouTube themselves. YouTube even has their own Screening Room for those who wish to watch high quality films made by reputable directors. But are filmmakers losing money because of online marketing? They are getting their name out, yes, as well as their film, but they are not receiving any kind of pension in return for their hardwork. Online fame leads to exposure, but no instant gratitude in cold hard cash.
So are these short film makers gaining any money to begin with? Does the nature of the short film industry bank on artistic license more than money making? Do the issues of copyright law and control apply to the short film industry? Is it because the shorts are so small in time, there is no need to be riled up about the lack of consent of showing a short?
As a filmmaker, I feel like those who make shorts should not only receive recognition for their hard work, but some sort of compensation in return for the hard work they do. In regards to "Battle of the Album Covers," I can see why Ugly Pictures had no issues with this short -- they were commissioned from the start to make this. I wonder what other directors would say about this issue, and if artistic consent does apply to shorts as it does to features.
Also, if you are wondering what the running order of album covers were in this short, here's the list.