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LA Film Fest: Did MTV Kill the Music Video Star?

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Film festivals aren't typically the place where you expect to see music videos, but this being Los Angeles Film Festival it's not surprising that music videos would find a home in the festival's program. This is, after all, the entertainment capital of the world and LAFF's new home at LA Live puts it in pole position to take advantage of the facilities numerous musical spaces, which include the Grammy Museum.

They did. Shown in the Clive Davis Theater, this year's Eclectic Mix program showcases music videos from every genre--from house to indie rock to hip hop to... well, you name it, they seem to have it.

Or, as Drea Clark, the festival's music video programmer humorously put it, "Get ready for the boobs and peen!"

Though most of the bands are not household names, what these artists have done with the music video form is worthy to note. As Damian Kulash, lead vocalist and guitarist for the band OK Go, pointed out in a Q&A after Sunday's screening of Eclectic Mix #2, the use of music videos as a televisual promotional tool has long since passed. "No one will spend $2 million or $5 million on a music video anymore," he continued.

And while those of us who grew up with MTV may mourn the loss of a (somewhat) dedicated music channel, Kulash also pointed out the distinct advantage of the music video leaving mainstream television.

"Now we have this open art form," Kulash explained as he stood amongst a few of the other directors whose work had been featured in the program. "None of us up here would have had our music videos played on MTV."

Which raises the question as to what, if anything, a music video can do for today's musicians-- a question I don't even pretend to know how to answer. Bands like OK Go whose videos have a distinct voice and style seem benefit greatly from the videos they produce. Often highly choreographed, the videos take on lives of their own, reTweeted and forwarded across the Internet. To date, the band's videos have generated upwards of 82 million views on YouTube.

"We're one of the few bands that, if we post a video on YouTube, know that it will get millions of hits," Kulash said later. The video OK Go screened at LAFF, for the song "This Too Shall Pass," has been viewed over 14 million times to date.

But the Eclectic Mix series is notable for other lesser-known musicians and directors-- talent coming up through the ranks. Spike Lee, McG, and many of the biggest names in directing all made music videos once, and many of the videos featured in LAFF's series display incredible talent worth mentioning. My personal favorites from Sunday evening's program are linked and featured here.

Artist: The Most Serene Republic
Song: Heavens to Purgatory

Artist: Rex the Dog
Song: Bubblicious

Artist: Jenny Lewis
Song: See Fernando

Artist: Hammock
Song: Breathturn

Artist: Two Door Cinema Club
Song: I Can Talk