Remember when we used to complain that MTV didn’t show music videos anymore? As the channel, which introduced America to the promotional pop video in 1981, saw more potential in the cheap format of reality television and its sister station VH1 moved behind the music, videos faded from view. The format, for a brief stint in the early- to mid-‘00s, appeared to be doomed.
Then, as happens, the Internet took over and now no one seems very much concerned about the health of the music video. With the means of production and distribution made available to any band or budding director, music videos of all stripes are constantly streaming through the tubes beneath our cities and beaming out of the screens that we each hold in our hands. They are impossible to ignore. I’ve watched four already today and am currently on my fifth as I type this.
But this is no music video utopia in which we live. Two problems face the modern music video audience.
One: A lack of critically minded gatekeepers leaves the viewer in the digital woods fending for him- or herself. A typical video diet might consist of friends’ bands, algorithm-approved fare and whatever the controversial/ridiculous video of the moment might be. Exposure to art that is both outside our personal social bubbles and more subtle in its artfulness—what, say, MTV’s 120 Minutes used to provide us—has seemingly become less and less likely. Though online channels like Pitchfork TV and Vevo do exist, plays are still largely at the users’ discretion, and those channels suffer from problem number ...
Two: We are forced to watch music videos on tiny screens, sometimes surrounded by advertisements and comments, and often in post-card sized viewers. Much of the intention of the videomaker is lost when the art is provided such minimal space and delivered with so much distraction. Frankly, given the amount of work that some videomakers put into their creations, it’s kind of depressing.
But take heart! There is hope. Seattle Weekly has partnered with Artist Home and SIFF to present the first Sync Music Video Festival, a new event that “exists to showcase and celebrate today’s most innovative and entertaining music videos while helping to create a support network for videomakers in the Pacific Northwest and raising money for Seattle-based film organizations.”
The festival will take place on Friday, February 28, 2014, at SIFF Cinema Uptown. On that night we will present a jury-selected collection of music videos on the big screen, in their full glory, with no distractions. There will be discussion with directors and some schmoozing as well. All will be revealed in the run-up to the festival. But first, we need to get as many videos as possible in front of our jury’s eyeballs. We will be accepting submission for Sync until Dec. 16. All the rules are posted over at SIFF.
We will consider all types of entries, from the biggest production to the smallest one-shot video. We know that brilliance comes in all shapes and sizes (and with varying budgets), but that all have the potential to light up the big screen.