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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #45: Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #45: Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, 'Shut Up and Play the Hits'

British directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace met while attending film school in Liverpool. After graduation, they moved into music videos and commercials; their first documentary was “No Distance Left To Run,” a film about Blur. It’s their first-ever Sundance. Read on to see who they got to serve as cameraman.

What’s it about? An intimate portrait of James Murphy during the final 48 hours of his band, LCD Soundsystem.

Directors Southern and Lovelace say: “When we first met James, the fact the band was ending was known, but there had been no decision to play the final show at Madison Square Garden. We’d developed a really good relationship with James and when he told us that they were going to bow out at MSG, we knew immediately that the show would be a huge part of the movie.

“We were fascinated by the idea of James’ decision to quit. It seemed to be the antithesis of the rock cliche: Most bands fall out or just keep plodding on, but here was a group of people who were still friends, who were still making great music and who had very calmly decided to call it a day. The question of “Why?” seemed like a good starting point. Creating a contrast between the exhilaration and incredible atmosphere of the show and the ordinariness of James’ life the day after seemed like an interesting means of exploring the ideas and themes we wanted to tap into.

“One of the biggest challenges was finding the shape of it. It’s not an easy film to pigeonhole; it is in part a concert film, but also has a strong narrative element. It was also a daunting challenge editing the concert down and in essence making our own set list —choosing the most appropriate performances from a show that was nearly four hours long.

“We hope people have a really good time. We had great fun in the sound mix with James, making sure the music sounded as incredible and as LOUD as it could. A couple of the tracks are real ear-bleeders now! Our hope is that those who couldn’t be there have the chance to experience the exhilaration.

“It’s also a film that looks at the relationship between fans and bands (or the idea of a band), from James as a young kid listening to Bowie and Lou Reed, to one of the most enduring images for us—the final shot of an inconsolable young fan who is one of the last to leave the arena.

“We were inspired by concert movies like “The Last Waltz” or “Stop Making Sense,” in that we wanted to create a film that was experiential, and a document of a moment in musical history. We shot the show in a pretty old-school way, with no live feed or monitors; we just wanted the team of DPs we’d assembled to capture the atmosphere of the show, the relationships between band members, the characters in the crowd, and not get bogged down in traditional, safe live coverage. We wanted it to be kind of loose and unstructured and as a result as true to the spirit of the event as it could be.

“Having Spike Jonze as one of the camera operators on the night was incredible and he captured some great moments. Getting Chuck Klosterman on board was an amazing addition to the film. He had written an article about James in The Guardian and during our research it was one of the most illuminating. We cribbed him on what we were looking to get out of their meeting and the two of them went at it. I think that conversation ended up lasting longer than the show!”

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