Considering the subject matter, it's unlikely that Bill Streeter will be screaming "Quiet on the set!" this weekend.
The St. Louis director, producer and cinematographer will mix music and mini-movies Saturday, April 13, for a second round of Lo-Fi Cherokee, a celebration of local talent on one of the city's most vibrant streets. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Streeter and his crew will film musicians such as Troubadour Dali, the Hobosexuals and CaveofswordS as they perform in a variety of Cherokee Street locations throughout the day. An after-party with The Blind Eyes, Picture Day and Old Lights follows at 8 p.m. at Foam.
We caught up with Streeter to find out what goes into such an intense day of shooting.
Last year, Lo-Fi Cherokee sprung out of your original Lo-Fi Saint Louis enterprise that documents local music, events and personalities. Why spin-off a specific Cherokee Street project?
Tower Groove Records had approached me about promotion, and I proposed that we try something similar to the Lo-Fi Sessions I'd shot at City Museum, but film it along Cherokee street, St. Louis' epicenter of DIY. Jason Hutto suggested doing it all in one day, which I believed was crazy. But then I thought if we could pull it off, we might be able to turn it into a unique annual event that blends live performance, film and one of the most interesting and dynamic communities in the city -- all in a way that nobody had seen before.
What was so special about last year that motivated another installment?
Last year was an experiment. Amazingly, we pulled it off more effectively than I imagined and created a new thing, something nobody had done before. It was so much fun, I knew we had to do it again. Plus there were many more bands I wanted to work with.
Even you can't be in two places at once. With shoots scheduled every 30 minutes in different venues, are you employing multiple crews or are you really setting up, shooting for five minutes, tearing down and moving to the next location yourself?
The trick is in organization and planning. I've scheduled the bands and audio crew to set up an hour prior to each shoot so that by the time the camera crew walks in, we only need to figure out the best way to shoot each scene. With crews of three shooters each, we'll have a little more time to move from venue to venue, and nobody but me will be shooting more than about eight videos. The bands have full control over how they present themselves to the cameras and are encouraged to be creative and use the locations to their advantage. We really don't know what we'll be getting until we walk in, which forces us to be improvisational in the way we shoot.
Video shoots rarely stay on schedule. Are you pressured to keep calm because you're working on such an aggressive itinerary?
Last year, we went a little long in a couple of locations, but more often, the shoots went smoothly and actually were completed in 10-15 minutes, which made up time. It's really in the planning -- controlling enough elements to allow you to have a few minutes of creative spontaneity with each band.
It seems like a ton of work. Wouldn't it be easier to shoot in Cherokee venues over the course of, say, a month? What's the allure of doing this within one day?
It does sound like a gimmick doesn't it? And it is, kind of. But it's also a creative challenge for me and for the crew to see what we can accomplish in a single day. And if you're one of the people watching us do this in real time, it'll be a glimpse into the filming process as well as a taste of a lot of different bands all in one day. It'll also give folks a chance to experience the diversity of independent businesses that are on Cherokee Street.
How can music fans and city explorers take part? Can they watch the shoots or be extras in the videos?
We felt confident enough with how well it went last year to invite the public in to watch this year. Last year, people found out about it and followed us around from shoot to shoot, saying how much fun they were having. I thought it would be a nice element to formally invite regular St. Louisans into the mix this year. And now it becomes kind of like a nano-festival where you get to see a bunch of acts in one day. (Get the map and schedule here.)
When will the new videos be available?
In about a month on lofistl.com and on our YouTube and Vimeo channels. We're planning a party for that, so stay tuned.
After documenting St. Louis music for so long, how has your own appreciation for local talent evolved over the years?
I have very little musical talent myself, so I deeply admire what musicians do and am a big believer that the live performance is the best way to experience music. When it's good it's really magical, and capturing some of that magic to get others excited about it has always been my goal with Lo-Fi Saint Louis. The local talent here is amazing. There's a wide diversity of acts, and the music scene seems to be more supportive and less divided along genre lines than it used to be. Many of the artists I listen to regularly are St. Louis bands, so I guess you can say I'm drinking my own Kool-Aid.
See also: -Ten Bands You Never Would Have Thought Used to Be Good -The Ten Biggest Concert Buzzkills: An Illustrated Guide -The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos Ever -The Ten Worst Music Tattoos Ever