Early Concert Film with The Beastie Boys
My concept for "Beastie" was to create a short concert film featuring the Beastie Boys that would capture a Beastie Boys performance from the audience’s point of view. To that end, I distributed a mixture of half a dozen 16mm Bell and Howell Filmos, and 16mm Bolex cameras amongst the audience members at a special one time only performance given by the Beastie Boys in honor of my birthday at Bard College in 1982.
I met Adam Yauch (MCA), of The Beastie Boys, (a.k.a. Nathanial Hornblower) when he and I were both attending Bard College together. The Beastie Boys were already a terrific punk rock band then and it was clear to me they were destined for greatness. I approached the Beastie Boys with my concept for "Beastie" and asked that they perform in it, both to document their performance, and in honor of my birthday.
Not only did the Beastie Boys quickly agree to perform in my film, but they also brought future Beastie Boy, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock)'s band "The Young and the Useless:" up from the city to perform as the opening act at the event. Also accompanying the two bands from New York City were several vanloads full of fans that joined the Bard students in the audience.
By distributing cameras to the audience members I managed to induce a blend of shaky hand held camera work, with candid shots of the band, combined with candid shots of the audience members shot both from within the performance space as well as from the hallway corridors leading in and out of the space. These unfiltered perspectives combined to create an incredibly visceral viewing experience for the moviegoer.
Realizing the audience was likely to be comprised of violently slam dancing and slightly inebriated folks, as a precaution I also set up a sync sound 16mm Arriflex BL mounted on a tripod in the balcony to cover a wide master shot of all the action in the event the distributed hand held cameras were inadvertently damaged or destroyed during the performance.
"Beastie" was filmed entirely on black and white reversal film. Bard had a small black and white film processor available to me so I used it to process much of the film myself by hand.
I knew that the space, a big black room with a black and white checkerboard floor, would read very well on black and white film. In order to enhance the two-tone effect as well as the freneticism of the moment, I purchased a hundred or so beach balls and asked members of the audience to jettison them from the balcony at the exact moment the Beastie Boys started playing. The beach balls were also intended as my own private alliteration to "Beastie Boys."
As further provocation for the audience to react wildly when the Beastie Boys took the stage, and as a visual tie in cue to the beach balls, I projected a 16mm film consisting of a 360-degree pan of myself running in nothing more than my 'birthday suit' in a circle while dribbling one of the aforementioned beach balls in the same space. This was just yet another private anarchistic joke on my part that related specifically to something my college advisor and mentor Adolfas Mekas had once said to me. He said that, "… an artist must always stand naked before his audience." I thought it might be fun to take him at his word, literally.
As scheduled, on my birthday, Friday, November 13, 1982, the Beastie Boys, who then consisted of John Berry, Michael Diamond (Mike D) Adam Yauch, (MCA) and Kate Schellenbach, (later of Luscious Jackson) played in what was then a gutted abandoned theater space, which had been the former Bard College Drama Dance Department Theater but was in the process of becoming the new Preston screening room for the Bard College Film Department.
"Beastie" took quite some time to edit and complete as I had to do everything myself by hand from editing the film on an upright 16mm Moviola, to the main title design which involved scratching the titles into the film with a pushpin. The film processor I used to process the film required a complex mixture of some particularly harsh chemicals along with steady and constant hand turning with a pencil stuck into a film reel in total darkness for many hours.
"Beastie" would mark The Beastie Boys' first on screen appearance in a published motion picture.
"Beastie" first premiered publicly at Bard College and at the No Nothing Cinema in San Francisco in 1984 and then later numerous times behind the band themselves as they performed in various New York clubs like Danceteria in the 1980s.
In 1992 Adam Yauch (MCA) contacted me in Los Angeles to ask if the Beastie Boys could use portions of "Beastie" in the then upcoming Beastie Boys' long form home video, "Skills to Pay the Bills", which also included other Beastie Boys music videos directed by Adam under his pseudonym, Nathanial Hornblower, as well as one directed by Adam Bernstein. The Beastie Boys then licensed portions of "Beastie" for limited use in "Skills to Pay the Bills." "Skills to Pay the Bills," released by Capitol Records that same year, went on to earn the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) gold sales award for selling more than 500,000 copies.
Audiences, other than those that were in attendance at the theaters and at the Beastie Boys concerts when the film was first released, have never seen the majority of "Beastie," which is about 5 minutes long and contains other early Beastie Boys songs, such as, "B.E.A.S.T.I.E." "Jimi" and "Transit Cop."
The primary reason for the film's limited release was that there was no real means of distribution for a five-minute long film at that time. Now that distribution is finally possible over the Internet and wireless devices, it is my wish, as I know it is of many Beastie Boys fans out there, that larger audiences finally get a chance to see my film in its entirety.
To that end it is my hope to re-release "Beastie" as well as many outtakes that include a performance by "The Young and the Useless" featuring Adam Horovitz, (Ad-rock) as a download for a nominal fee, a portion of which will include a donation to a worthy charity, such as the Tibetan Freedom Fund, or to cancer research.
If there are any Beastie Boys fans out there that want to see my film "Beastie" in its entirety, please let the Beastie Boys and me know.
You can write to me here care of this website, http://www.PhilipPucci.com.