Hip Hop Music Videos Meet The Film
by Margaret Sang
In Radio, What is Commercially heard is not what is Culturally
happening. You can guarantee the same logic applies to
music videos. The music video industry is controlled by
the major distributors of music. The marketing systems
that are in place force commercial products ahead of the
underground artists work right into the hands of
the consumer. How do you compete with that?
Jesse Russell Brooks is the director of an underground
music video commissioned by Change Everything Music in
Los Angeles, CA. Once he was on board in July 2004, the
small label stuck Brooks with that exact same problem
Underground Hip Hop artists have very little money compared
to the commercial giants. The standard approach for many
underground Hip Hop artists is to immediately distribute
a music video on the internet through venues such as Ifilm.com
or often to various public access shows in America. Independent
agents such as The CVC Report or Royal 'D' Visual Marketing
can distribute for your group or label and also help you
try to place a music video on network TV for about $10,000.
A small price to pay for the possibility of commercial
This article is about a film-maker who exploited an arena
that would develop the value of a Hip Hop music video
over the underground competition, without competing with
the commercial giants. The power of the music video
has been diminished for underground artists by the commercial
industry. The consumer has become too savvy to rally around
a public access music show in conjunction with one or
two local radio interviews and or a club performance.
In my mind, there was a piece of the puzzle missing. A
modern day promotional tool that would augment the value
of underground Hip Hop marketing. Jesse explained.
The International Film Festival Circuit is an untapped
marketing device for underground Hip Hop artists. Absolutely
In America alone there is roughly 1500 Film Festivals
that promote and screen work to over 10 million audience
members a year. These audiences members include music
labels, film directors, video game designers and famous
artists all looking for what is new in film and music.
Right now, 25% of these festivals carry a music video
category. The last 75% is looking for a way to develop
a music video category and will make adjustments to accommodate
the music video art form, Especially if it is Hip Hop.
The Spaghetti Junction Urban Film Festival is the largest
predominantly black film festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
I emailed them to find out what their position was concerning
music videos. A representative replied, We do not
have a category for music videos anymore. We did in previous
years but did not receive any entries last year. Film-makers
these days have over saturated the market with shorts
and documentaries. The music video submissions simply
are not there to invest the time and effort to promote
a category for. If the pressure was there, we would offer
grants, industry support, and find the money to make it
The Film Festival Market is the point where the needs
of the underground Hip Hop artists and the underground
film director can both be met. Festivals offer grants
and cash prizes, merit initiatives, industry jobs, interviews,
contacts and free advertising for the film-makers as well
as the artists. Judges may be very important or distinguished
industry professionals who make themselfs available to
the film makers and artists. Local and national major
players such as production studio executives and radio
DJs are often in the audience. If they are not,
you may be encourages to invite them with an endorsement
from the festival director. Film makers and Musicians
participate in talk backs in front of large audiences.
There are areas for free shameless advertisement and a
lobby for impulse sales. Local music stores and book shops
participate to boost their image and products to the community.
The film festival circuit is the missing link to underground
Hip Hop marketing.
The film festival circuit is unspoiled by any impression
of what Hip Hop should look like or sound like. It is
the opportunity for underground rap artists and their
directors to not only increase their audience, but to
also share words and visuals that would normally get us
stamped as Too Art house or Too Conscience
or To Radical or To Controversial
by commercial outlets. Film festivals are made up of consumers
and professionals looking towards the next creative move
outside of the commercial world that may eventually broaden
My goal is to not only influence film makers to
start shooting music videos for the festival circuit,
but to also influence underground Hip Hop artists to make
music videos and begin using the film festival circuit.
Brooks has started an advocacy to influence festivals
to add a music video category. The Queens International
Film Festival has asked him to help develop their 2005
fall season with a music video category. This is the opportunity
for festival directors to widen their economy and Hip
Hop artists to broaden their playground. Brooks predicts
that local bar bands and underground Hip Hop groups will
eventually flood the America festival market with enough
underground Rock, Jazz, Punk, and Hip Hop music videos
that the category may begin to split into genres. Turning
what use to be a venue to discover film-makers into one
for discovering musicians as well.
This is a Magic Bullets that could gentrify underground
hip hop and forge a way for these passionate, intelligent,
articulate, young gifted and black artists to express
themselves in a market that does not have to compete with
the stereotypical, commercially controlled musical kingpins.
With in the past 6 months , ILLCOMs music video
The Uprising directed by Jesse Russell Brooks
has received 11 awards and over $4000 dollars in cash
grants from film festivals in America and abroad. The
video has been screened in over 20 festivals in 2004 and
is presently pending in over 45 festival competitions
and 5 invited screenings for 2005. ILLCOM has sold more
the 10,000 units and is pending a national tour Fall 2005.
The Video Link is listed below.
Jesse Russell Brooks is currently on the MakeBelieve Film
rooster as a music video director in Los Angeles and is
currently in pre production on his next Hip Hop Music
project. He is also a public speaker and film advocate
whose goal is to influence underground Hip Hop artists
around the globe to make music videos and compete in the
Film Festival Market.
References and Contact Information
Jesse Russell Brooks
Illcom: The Uprising Music Video Link:
The CVC Report:
Spaghetti Junction Urban Film Festival
The Queens International Film Festival
About the Author
Margeret Sang has Written articles focusing on the Music
and Film for Ezines and Collage press for 3 years.