A good litmus test for ideas around Musicbed is not related to the ‘what’ of the matter, but more to the ‘why’ of the matter. It bleeds into everything we do. Every email, social media post meeting — we have to think about what value we’re bringing to the table. What worth does it have? We’ve just wrapped up our most ambitious project to date, and, for once, we’re not sure what sort of value we’re bringing to the table — that part’s up to you.
We had an honest conversation with Musicbed CEO Daniel McCarthy after post-production wrapped up, about why we decided to make the film. We’ll break it apart below, but first we’ll let him tell you in his words:
“Every email, social media post meeting — we have to think about what value we’re bringing to the table. What worth does it have?”
As we collectively hold our breath, waiting to release our first feature-length documentary, we’re reminding ourselves what brought our team here in the first place. Why we spent two years and a ton of resources producing a feature-length film that may or may not be successful. MAKE, a title we came up with after months of deliberation, is finally here, and, if nothing else, it’s something we believe in.
“We’ve been making short films as a company for a long time, and we’ve noticed something. Almost every comment we read about the films — they’re not dissecting the story. They’re not saying how it impacted them. Every comment is, ‘What did you shoot this on? What lens?’ It’s all how-to crap. They’re wondering how they can imitate something. They’re asking the wrong question. You keep asking us ‘how’, but you didn’t ask us ‘why.’ It’s indicative of a much larger problem, one that people in the creative world have battled since art was a thing.”
I think one of the strongest values we have at Musicbed is relationships. The basis of a good relationship is vulnerability. If we want to build real relationships, I think it requires that we get real with people.
My hope is that creatives can see the film for what it is, and that they can see themselves in each one of these characters. Not everyone that watches it is going to be a filmmaker or a musician. I think the act of creating is so basic-level human, that if you see it from the big picture, it doesn’t matter what you do as a career.
While the response to the film is yet to be determined, we’re certainly proud of it. Ultimately, see it for yourself to make a judgment. But allow us to share three reasons why we think MAKE does have value, and why we felt it was more than just an idea.
Accolades have been a part of the art world since art existed. Before the Oscars, before the Grammys, there were still people wanting, needing recognition for their work. No artist is above it. MAKE’s premise is simple. How do you define success, and make sense of it as a creative?
As an artist, what happens to your work when you forget the passion that got you there in the first place and start worrying about likes, followers and dollars? The inevitability of the matter is that we’re all going to end up in the same place — a point where success no longer holds any value. The mindset we see so often in our industry is so focused on the next goal, instead of focusing on the moment, the act of creating something new.
“The mindset we see so often in our industry is so focused on the next goal, instead of focusing on the moment, the act of creating something new.”
But like we said, this isn’t a new problem. Artists have always sought success over the passion of the craft. Ultimately, the person seeking success is left empty when they find what they’ve been seeking so desperately. This is the catalyst for MAKE. We’ll let Daniel sum this section up:
“There’s this idea that a major league baseball player’s favorite and most depressing day are the same day. It’s the day they win the World Series. It’s the most fulfilling and most depressing day of their lives, because they reach their destiny and then all of a sudden realize there’s nothing else.
We wanted to ask creatives, ‘what is this moment that you’re chasing, and do you really think it’s going to fulfill you?’ Because it can’t. It never will. If the thing you’re chasing will never fulfill, maybe it’s time to decide if you’re chasing the right thing.”
Something Christian Schultz, the director for MAKE, told us after post-production finished, was that two phrases were running through his head the whole time: ‘don’t give up’ and ‘don’t do this for the wrong reasons’.
‘Am I doing this for the wrong reasons’ is a question that’s not asked enough in our industry.
As Daniel would say, call the film what you want — a passion project, a statement, entertainment or a monumental flop — just don’t call it a marketing ploy. This is us, Musicbed, baring our hearts to the world, being vulnerable and hoping you make the same connection we have.
We felt very strongly about this film, not only because we think creatives need it more than ever, but also because we need it more than ever. As a company, what is it that we’re trying to chase? What happens when we get there? It’s important for us to remember that we’re living a creative life just as much as the people that are watching the film.
“It’s important for us to remember that we’re living a creative life just as much as the people that are watching the film.”
Our responsibility as creatives, sharing this life, is to call out a problem when we see it — a problem that affects us all. We’re passionate about living a healthy life, and we want to see the people we serve live that life too.
We have a unique perspective at Musicbed, that’s why we made the film. We see filmmakers and musicians fall into the same traps every day. We see their personal lives collapse when they realize the ‘success’ they’ve been chasing has no sustaining value.