12 March 2011
What happened yesterday?… Well, nothing much… except that I attended the special screening of 8 videos for the songs from R.E.M.’s album Collapse Into Now. The event took place in London… oh and did I mention that Michael Stipe was the host of the event, and that he took part in the questions & answers session?
But the story actually begins on Monday, when I received a message from my friend Matthijs:
Matt: “So, are you coming to London on Friday?”
Me: (clueless) “Er, no, why?”
Matt: “There’s a screening in London, and Michael Stipe will be answering our questions, and I just won two tickets for the event! Wanna go?”
Me: “OF COURSE I wanna go!! Squeeee!! Thank you thank you thank you!”
So, Matthijs and I agreed to meet in front of the BAFTA Theatre in London, where the screening was about to take place, at 6pm. A few other people who I’d known, either from various R.E.M. related events, or from online fan communities, had also won tickets, so I was really happy to see them there (hiya Sue, Lucy, Mark and Rob!). Before the actual screening, there was a Collapse Into Now-themed cocktail party, where we mingled with the likes of Bertis Downs (R.E.M.’s manager), Chris Martin (Coldplay) etc; however, we were polite enough not to disturb them, so we simply enjoyed our drinks and discussed our favourite songs from the new album (and took a few photos, which can be seen below).
Then, we were invited to go upstairs to the theatre, and as soon as we realised that the front row seats weren’t reserved, we sat our asses there, right in front of the stage! There was a cosy little table and two armchairs, and soon Michael Stipe arrived with his friend Jefferson Hack, the co-founder of the Dazed Digital who organised the entire event. [By the way, on Thursday our friend Auctioneer participated in the live chat with Michael, also organised by Dazed Digital, so please read his blog post here!)
So, Michael - who had shaved, thanx God! - and Jefferson played all videos that had been completed thus far, and discussed each video after we'd seen it. Later on, they explained that the video for "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I" was almost ready for the screening, but they could not adjust it for the video projector on time; and James Franco is yet to complete the two videos that he is directing.
Instead of me retelling Michael's words, I have filmed all discussions and embedded them below, so enjoy! The highlight for me was Michael's confession that he was really worried about Mike Mills's reaction to the controversial video for "Walk It Back", so below you'll learn how he eventually persuaded Mike to greenlight the video.
The only segment that I did not film was the final questions-and-answers session with the people from the audience asking questions; so I will retell it briefly. When asked why the band is not touring, Michael flatly said: "Because I didn't want to." And he added that these video screenings are actually his own tour! He announced that he would soon be hosting similar events in Austin TX at the SXSW festival, and in New York City. When asked how he felt about letting the directors interpret the songs themselves, without Michael's personal interference, he explained that it wasn't easy for him because he's a bit of a control freak; however, he said that a majority of the chosen directors are either his friends, or people that he had collaborated with before (or both), so he trusted them, and he was really happy with the final results.
I managed to ask two questions: the first one was whether they plan to release these films on a DVD. Michael said that they hadn't discussed this with their record company yet, but that he definitely intended to release them on a future DVD. I also asked him which song from Collapse Into Now was the most difficult to complete. Surprisingly, he said that "Uberlin" was the most difficult song, that he rewrote the lyrics at least eight times before he was happy with them. He joked that the band wants us to believe that all songs were done effortlessly; but that in reality, of course, it's not always the case.
As you will see, throughout the session Michael was very funny and animated. No sign of the "aloof, quiet Michael" that the journalists like to portray; quite the opposite, he is a very intelligent guy with a wonderful sense of humour.
This is just a brief recount of the events, so feel free to ask questions! And enjoy the photos and videos!
Love y'all, Ivana
Mine Smell Like Honey
It Happened Today
All The Best
Walk It Back
Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter
Oh My Heart
Tags: All the Best, Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter, Bafta Theatre, Collapse Into Now, Dazed Digital, Discoverer, It Happened Today, Ivana, Jefferson Hack, London, Michael Stipe, Mine Smell Like Honey, Oh My Heart, Questions and Answers, R.E.M., Uberlin, Walk It Back