As a concert fan who not only loves going to show, but also loves experiencing concerts through the eyes of fellow fans via mobile phones and hand-held cameras, I’ve had a lot of fun watching and learning about the new Radiohead Live in Praha DVD made by fans during the band’s August 29, 2009 concert in Prague at the Výstavištĕ Holešovice Exhibition Hall.
Though the project was impressive and inspiring, there a few things that would’ve made it even better.
I should tell you first that I understand how difficult developing and executing such a project can be. And what impressed me the most was the editing job and the collaboration of the fans/filmmakers and how they were able to pull a team of 80 people together to create the DVD.
According to the site’s list of credits, other reports and comments from the makers of the film, the Radiohead in Prague DVD was made using several different cameras and shot from the vantage point of the fans standing in the crowd. And the group of fans who shot the footage were given no directorial guidance aside from their own creative inspiration and their inner hand-held video muse that led them during the show.
The concert DVD, like most Radiohead concert experiences, is a visual spectacle to behold. The film is also a solid sonic pleasure because the film’s creators had the blessing of the band and were able to use the official sound mix from the Prague concert.
Now, even though this is an ambitious fan-made movie, and the crew had a specific goal in mind when they made the film, here a few ways to make it even better if they were to make a sequel.
First, I would have liked to see more shots of the fan’s faces as they watched in awe of Radiohead’s performance. With just a few spliced in shots of fans faces showing their emotional expressions -- edited in at just the right spot during the show -- the DVD would have been even more personal that it already is.
Secondly, like a well-done documentary film that deftly tells the story of the events as they happened, the Radiohead DVD could be more emotionally dynamic by spicing in short moments of fans being interviewed about what was going on in their minds and hearts as the show unfolded, or why they film what they filmed.
Besides capturing them on video, one of the other ways to capture fan emotion is with words. And considering how much concert fans use Twitter and mobile phones to share experiences during concerts these days, I wonder what it would have been like if the filmmakers were able to weave in fan tweets from Twitter or text from cell phones made during the show. Like interviewing the fans about their experience, showing fan expressions in words would have added even more emotional power and context to the DVD using social media.
Moreover, using the concepts of a site like Big Live might be able to take the film beyond the actual live concert experience, and allow the larger Radiohead fan community (and even new Radiohead fans) to connect, share and chat during the show and after it takes place.
Yes, these sequel suggestions are easier said than done. And I know telling concert stories with video is hard to do. But it seems like there was a fantastic opportunity to do it with Radiohead in Prague, if they wanted to.
As I watched the Radiohead DVD I started to think about other fan-made concert movies like the Beastie Boy’s Awesome: I... Shot That?where the band gave fans video cameras and the freedom to shoot the band how they wanted to.
And when I compared the two, from a fan perspective, Awesome is much better. But again, Awesome, was shot for a different purpose, with different direction and a larger budget. But still, from a concept perspective, I wish the Radiohead Live in Praha DVD had more fan-centric elements of Awesome in it.
That said, I'm wondering how the forth-coming Nine-Inch Nails Fan-made movie After All Is Said and Done will compare to this Radiohead fan-shot DVD.
No question, this is a special Radiohead concert moment captured on video that all fans can enjoy as a free download. And yes, you should watch it, if only to see how a team of fans successfully assembled to celebrate and stitch together a digital quilt of videos using different types of cameras, mobile phones and other media. I just wish they did a better job of documenting the fan experience. Because I know fans want to tell their story and in with projects like this one it’s a great opportunity and environment to have their story told. Should there be a “sequel” or if another group of filmmakers get inspired, all they have to do is figure out how to ask fans and how to present their answers and experiences in tandem with the concert footage.
Letting the fans use the live show mix was another smart move by Radiohead. And like Chicago Tribune pop music writer Greg Kot discusses in his book Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, Radiohead continues to be a strategic innovator and leader when it comes to using digital and new media tools to promote their music. And this DVD is yet again another way they've empowered fans to spread their music by wisely giving the project their “blessing” to keep fans engaged as they work on new music.
Were you at the Radiohead Prague show? Have you seen the DVD already? What do you think?
Download: Radiohead Live in Praha