“We wanna be known for supporting local music…”
Local director Aaron Smith says he's proud of the awards he's won for some of his films, but this music community has come to mean so much more to him. To be involved in it: Detroit’s ever-verdant crop of musical talent; to be supporting it, acknowledged by it and digging further into it, meeting new bands, hearing new songs, filming more music videos, more live shows.
Smith and videographer Kyle Gleisner are sparked with stores of inspiration after a busy summer holed up in their humble production/editing base, Cabin 44.
Just outside the border of Ferndale...yes, inside a literal cabin, set 50 feet or so back from the road (Woodward Heights), affecting instant autumnal ambiances with blankets of crinkly leaves, woodchips and dirtballs flanking its stumpy porch (lit by a Twin-Peaks-ian green-ish light). There’s even a pair of wicker chairs to the side and pine trees loom nearby.
There to greet you at the screen door are two brotherly-appearing, beardy fellows: Smith, 28, a few inches higher than his confidant, main collaborator Gleisner, the bespectacled 22-year-old.
“I just knew I was gonna be doing film,” Gleisner says of his life's path to film, speaking from within the cozy confines of the Cabin. Their living room décor displays show posters, movie memorabilia, droves of DVDs and VHS-stuffed shelves. “I don’t know what else I could be doing, if I could do everything (in film) I would…”
These two Wayne State grads (Smith in Film Production, Gleisner in Media Arts Studies) are wrapping up a summer that’s seen them start to live out their dreams.
Smith admits he has an eye for spectacle, while Gleisner charts his proper introduction to film as being an extra in a horror-zombie flick, directed by his uncle (another indie-filmmaker and photographer). Their tastes, ranging from Star Wars to Pulp Fiction, Spike Jonze to Federico Fellini, suit them well for the realms of music-video production. But really, it's their ambition and heart that propels the Cabin 44 cinematics...
Funded almost entirely out of their own pockets (or by the good graces of favor-swapping/equipment-sharing-solidarity from various allies in the local independent film community,) the Cabin-44-duo’s résumé now includes notable rock scene shakers such as The High Strung, The Summer Pledge, The Oscillating Fan Club, Squid The Whale, Passalacqua and, debuting next week (Oct 5, live at the Loving Touch), featuring Duende (and featuring local rapper Mister).
They’ve got a few other projects on the horizon: They’ll continue their special live performance series Live at Cabin 44 featuring Ferndale elec-trance-a-delic duo Michael Mars & the God Particle and a pending video project with psyche-pop quartet FUR.
What spurs this labor of love forward: -for starters, of course, is their inherent love for the craft of film; but also it's their newfound inspiration for the music scene. There’s that, but these film-mavens feed off each other’s own personas (and personal methods).
“I couldn’t work with anyone else right now, (Gleisner) knows exactly what I want,” said Smith.
Then there’s all their other collaborators: Photographer Joshua Hanford (of Detroit Exposure) is joining Cabin 44’s widening circle, an alliance Smith forged during his formative filmic experience as assistant-director for the Land of Nod music festival in Jackson, MI, during the spring of 2010). Handford helped start Detroit Exposure as well as aided the Cabin-crew during their live shoots at the Dally in the Alley and DIY Street Fair.
Smith and Gleisner also tip their hats to photographer/editor Robby Melling (of the Get Super Rad media arts collective), for “swapping favors” and providing integral equipment loans.
But that’s part of it: the community!
“I didn’t really understand it when I was living in Detroit,” said Smith. “I came to Ferndale and now here in Pleasant Ridge, being able to walk down to the Loving Touch and see your friends there or going out to DIY and talking to all of these people, the performers who live around the area and everybody just trying to help each other – that’s infectious.”
Gleisner says he’s learned a lot in shooting live shows. “You’re conducting your craft out in front of the public, there’s this on-the-fly pressure. The Dally shoot was a great learning experience for me; and to work with (Handford), we’ve been friends for a while, I really respect that guy and his work.”
Cabin 44 filmed footage of the Summer Pledge and the Oscillating Fan Club – check out their Facebook in the coming month for updates.
Meanwhile, October 5at the Loving Touch is a dual-release celebration: Duende will have vinyl copies of their new double-A-side single “Boss Radio / Detroit J.” (on Ferndale-based Bellyache Records) as well as the premier screening of Cabin 44’s production of a “Boss Radio” music video.
Want a taste of their adventurous and imaginative style? Watch the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—meets—Deerhunter –themed video” for the High Strung’s “Big Game Hunter…” Or, to experience the roots of Cabin 44’s creative canon, stream video of the band TIM, performing on their front porch –or see the final product of what both Smith and Gleisner consider to be their favorite and most formative experience: the music video for The Summer Pledges’ “B’s Teeth.”
More info: https://vimeo.com/user10444245
Photo images: Lo-Fi Bri
Duende pic: Cabin 44