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Adam Yauch Remembered: Filmmakers Share Their Memories of the Late Oscilloscope and Beastie Boys Founder

By Indiewire | Indiewire May 7, 2012 at 1:15PM

Adam Yauch Remembered: Filmmakers Share Their Memories of the Late Oscilloscope and Beastie Boys Founder
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Check Out the Trailer for iW's 15th Anniversary Centerpiece, "Bellflower"
Evan Glodell's "Bellflower." Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Vincent Grashaw

Producer, "Bellflower"

Last night I dug up my emails and text messages with Adam and reread them all. The thing that hurts the most about his passing is I feel like there was so much more to be done with him. We were just getting started. This guy believed in us (Coatwolf Prods.), and he gave us a huge opportunity in showcasing our work to the world with “Bellflower.” It changed my life, and I will never forget it.

In just one year’s time I have a bunch of memories of Adam: dinner at the Salt Lick in Austin, TX; joyriding in the Medusa car with Evan and I during SXSW (which I have video of); the premiere of the hilarious “Fight for Your Right: Revisited” short film that he directed; the Oscilloscope "game night" party at their offices on Canal Street... These are just a few things that come to mind. I also have this image of him sporting a bad-ass cowboy hat stuck in my head.

You can be angry at the notion that age 47 is too young. But wow, if you step back and look at the amount of people he affected personally — those he influenced with his music, inspired with his charity work, everything he accomplished in his lifetime — he lived more in those years than most would in several lifetimes. 

I am grateful I got to know him on a personal level and share in some good times, even if it were only for a short while.

Tribeca Snapshot: Bradley Rust Gray's "The Exploding Girl"
A scene from Bradley Rust Gray's "The Exploding Girl." Image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.
Bradley Rust Gray and So Yong Kim

Writer-director and producer, “The Exploding Girl”;  Producer and writer-director, “Treeless Mountain”

So and I are torn over how to describe our feelings about Adam. So wants to honor his dedication to independent cinema, including our films, which are not exactly easy movies. I am obsessed over my impression of him as a gentle and wise soul vs. his public persona as MCA.

We've also been listening to the Beastie Boys and remembering the moment when we first heard each song. So recalls how she was too goth to really follow their early music, while I remember people who liked "License to Ill" used to pick on me at school. I actually mentioned this to Adam at one point. He kindly apologized, saying those songs were meant as a joke, but instead they ended up being embraced by jocks.

The first time we met Adam was at Sundance in 2000. We ran into him with a friend getting pizza, and nervously asked if he wanted to see my short film. To our surprise he actually showed up the next day. It was an honor to be sure, but could someone really love cinema so much that he'd show up to some stranger's short at a morning screening?

Years later we saw Adam at a food court at the Toronto Film Festival which was showing So's second feature, “Treeless Mountain.” Timidly, we recounted that we had met him before and asked if he might be able to see our film. He was in a hurry, but said he'd try. I don't even think we got the name of the film out of our mouths. Just after, we ran up to our screening and one of the volunteers came to us and said, "MCA is watching your movie! I didn't even ask him for a ticket, cause you know… he's MCA!” Fortunately, Kelly Reichardt had recommended that he catch it. We were deeply honored that he selected the film as the first foreign-language addition to his family of films.

We remember the first trailer for “Treeless Mountain”: It starts in space. Lightning comes out. A HUGE BUZZING ELECTRICAL BLAZE CRACKLES as the Oscilloscope logo is unleashed. Then gentle music begins and two little Korean girls walk onto the screen. We mentioned to Adam that while we dug the logo, the "spirit" of the noise was a bit in conflict with the general approach of the film. He chuckled and took the sound out of the opening.

After picking up our next film, “The Exploding Girl,” Adam said that he hoped to support all of our work. His confidence in us is part of what kept us going.

Adam was a gentle spirit, a knowing and kind soul. But still he's a force of nature in front of an audience with a microphone. That artistry, and his general sense of play, is what made him so impressive. He had a gift of impacting popular culture while supporting momentous causes. In between, he left his mark in so many other ways. One of our most prized possessions is a copy of Grand Royal Magazine on electronic music.

He was fun, smart, and he deeply believed in alternative cinema. His soul will be missed and cherished by us and the millions he touched through his work and devotion to the creative spirit.

This article is related to: Adam Yauch, Kelly Reichardt, Oren Moverman, Vincent Grashaw, So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray, Oscilloscope Laboratories





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