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Go BackPUT THE NEEDLE ON THE RECORD! Filmmaker Jason Rem reveals more about his award-winning exploration of electronic music!

Posted: 25/10/05 10:39

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Put the Needle On the Record is an award-winning documentary film that charts the growth of electronic music and examines the whys and wherefores of DJ culture today. Striking a healthy balance between making the film entertaining and informative, writer-director-producer Jason Rem explores the scene from a U.S perspective in his first feature length documentary project.

Mixing footage shot in Miami at the 18th annual Winter Music Conference with that recorded in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, involving 45 interviews and 53 tracks from leading artists, Put the Needle On the Record flows well and raises many interesting points. Deep Dish, D:Fuse, Francois K, Josh Wink, Peter Rauhofer and Roger Sanchez are among those providing input to Rem’s cultural investigation as topics such as origins, evolution, genres, venues, crowds and electronic music production are brought to light.

Put the Needle On the Record has been on the (film) festival circuit for a year and is due to finish touring in January 2006. Marco Bonte spoke with filmmaker Jason Rem to find out more!

Marco Bonte: What inspired you to make Put the Needle On the Record?
Jason Rem:Shahin Amirpour, one of the producers of the film invited me to the Winter Music Conference in Miami. At the time I knew just a little about electronic music and the DJ scene as a whole. But when I arrived in Miami I was inundated with the creative musical explosion that is the conference. I was fascinated by the uniqueness and individualism of the DJs, the myriad of choices one has in the music and the overall joy the fans and industry folks have for what they do. I had been thinking about a subject for my first documentary and after returning to LA decided to make the film.”
You must be an electronic music lover, since you came up with the idea of the DJ film?
“I always liked the music but so much more so now. Electronic music in general is very subliminal in the American culture. If you are not in the know, you have no idea that there is a substantially growing movement of the music going on all around. You may hear it in a club or in entertainment soundtracks in film and television, but unless you have an experience that gets you into it, you may miss the music all together. Although I knew a little about what was going on, I was lucky to have my experience at the conference. Since then I have been enjoying tons of different kinds of music in all electronic music genres. House, drum & bass, breaks, experimental, downtempo, there is something great, new and interesting in all of it.”

What was your favourite part in the whole process of the film?
“Choosing the look, the film stocks, doing the interviews, setting up the shots, chasing down great footage and bringing it to life. That is where the most energy and excitement is. I love the writing and editing process but it is a slower enjoyment. Also personally learning and discovering, and then turning around and getting that information to the public in an enjoyable and entertaining format. There is nothing like sitting in a theatre and having people get excited about what you and your crew made for them. It’s especially satisfying when the industry folks give it a thumbs-up.”

What type of camera[s] did you shoot the film with?
“We used three Beta SP cameras in Miami. Each crew of four would work one of three shifts (11am-7pm / 4pm-12am / 7pm-5am) as Miami was going 24/7 that week. We also had a Super 16mm cameraman shooting 4000' of Kodak film using an A Minima camera. We put a helicopter in the air for the aerials and shot the Super 16mm from a nose mount and the Beta SP from the side door. When we got home we brought in footage from all over the world and had to mix different stocks and aspect ratios in post. But it all looks smooth and for most it's hard to tell whether you are looking at Super 16mm film footage, a DVD dub or European PAL DV Cam.”

From the 45 people you interviewed in the film, who provided you with good memories?
“All of them give me a good memory. No joke. I was so pleased that all the talent brought something unique and gave great insight. I do have to say that Nigel Richards provided great comedy relief and on the other end of the spectrum Christopher Lawrence brought a nice perspective and downtempo vibe. But whether it was Jesse Saunders and Francois K giving historical elements or Dirty Vegas, Dave Ralph and Mark Lewis discussing global aspects, something from each interview can bring a smile to my face. For instance, Deep Dish was a really great interview and it was so interesting to see them have the same understanding of one another during the interview that they seem to have behind the decks.”

Did you ever think your film would play across the globe?
“I chose this subject because of its global exposure. I tend to think big on the projects I work on and have travelled the world extensively so it was my hope it would work out this way. I really tried to incorporate places like Russia, Ibiza, the UK, Zurich and others so that it would have global appeal. But you never know until you get it out there. It has been great to get emails from all over the world sent by people who want to see the film. The global interest in the film has been one of the very positive benefits for all of us involved.”

There is a DVD version of the film forthcoming, when can we expect it?
“Early 2006. We are looking to have a limited theatrical run and then will get the DVD and all the bonus features as well as the CD soundtracks and video game out to all of those across the globe.”

Can you give some tips for upcoming film producers, scriptwriters and all who are interested in the film industry?
“You have to just go for it. Whatever you want to do. You can’t wait for someone to come along and hold your hand and teach you everything. Talk about it. Tell people what you want to do and if it’s meant to happen it will. Some people may think you are crazy or won’t understand, but that’s okay. Just keep going for it and find the people who do understand you. Just shoot it, write it, do it. It may not be exactly what you thought, but once you get one thing done the next is that much easier. In today’s world the barriers to entry and costs are lower and the ability to get your creative works to an audience is much easier. And cultivate relationships. Entertainment is an industry built on relationships.”

What is your next goal or project?
“I recently finished my first feature film script. It’s a Hollywood satire with a robbery twist. I will produce and direct, and I hope to shoot next spring. I also have a sports-based reality series in the works and am getting into directing music videos and commercials. I recently went to the Burning Man festival for the first time. It was such a vibrant explosion of creativity, spirituality, community and music. I might shoot my next documentary there!”

Check out
Put the Needle On the Record at:

The Amsterdam Dance Event
Screening details: To be announced. 27th - 29th October.

The Deep Ellum Film Festival Dallas Screening details:
To be announced. 17th - 23rd November.

For more details about the film, including screenings, please visit:

Words by Marco Bonte