Musicians and Missing & Murdered Women

Since Aaron Peters started working seriously as a filmmaker in 2011, he has collaborated on two important Canadian films. The first was when he was asked to support the film project “Occupy Love”, by Ontario filmmaker Velcrow Ripper, with his aerial shot of the Toronto Dundas Square “Idle No More” flash mob round dance. More recently, Peters was asked to help capture an interview while he was in Winnipeg.

The interview Peters filmed was set up by Cameron Monkman who was putting together the documentary film “Missing”, a film about Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women. Cameron Monkman is known in the Toronto music scene as hip hop artist “Young Jibwe”. I’ve seen Young Jibwe perform and I knew of him, but I never really cover hip hop or rap music (I just personally don’t prefer the genre), so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to him. I didn’t know that Monkman also worked on film projects. I didn’t know that he also organized music events.

Monkman had organized filmmakers across the country (Aaron Peters, Jeremy Oliver & Jenny MacIntosh) to interview people he couldn’t reach. He arranged interviews that included BIF NAKED (Canadian musician), ROBBIE MADSEN (Toronto Musician), QUESE IMC (Hip Hop MC) & MELISSA SPENCE (Canadian radio DJ/Music Director).

I was wondering how this project would turn out. It was several one-on-one interviews captured by different people with different cameras. I thought it might look like a home movie. I wasn’t sure if Monkman would do a good job with the editing and presenting of this collaboration. When the movie was released I was impressed! It turned out beautiful. Not only did Monkman use the collected footage well, he told the story well. It’s a difficult story to tell and included interviews with Gladys Radek, advocate for Missing & Murdered women cross Canada, and Murna Abraham the sister of Sharon Abraham who was a victim of Robert Picton. Horrible stories, but presented in such a way we could feel like we were in the room with these people holding their hands while they talked to us. Cameron, like a smart musican should, added his own music to the soundtrack. It all came together well.

Musicians And The Passion For Film

Musicians have long been dovetailing their film and music. Neil Young, under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey (Greendale ), Rob Zombie (Halloween), Blane Thurier (Low Self-Esteem Girl). Wayne Coyne (Christmas on Mars), Thom Yorke (Pixies), and I’m sure you could add to the list. Then there are the filmmakers that you may not realize are also musicians like David Lynch, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks. As a friend of mine eloquently put it “you can see the cinematic scope in Morrison’s lyrics”. Even Jim Morrison of The Doors was a UCLA film student.

Long & McQuade, the “Musical Instruments” store, is now carrying video equipment. I spoke with Steve Long about it. I was curious to know what their take was on it. Did Long & McQuade see a trend? Was the equipment simply for making Youtube videos or was there more to it?

Long said they started selling and renting Go Pro cameras about a year ago. Go pro has a package  that makes it easy to attach a camera to a mic stand, drum kit, trombone and capture a live performance at interesting angles.

I told Long I had purchased my Zoom handheld recorder at Long & McQuade 3 years ago. It’s what Aaron Peters and I use for the audio recording of videos when we’re interviewing on the street. It’s a great little affordable audio recorder, but not a great video recorder. The Go Pro is good for capturing video, but not so great for recording audio. The equipment at Long & McQuade is affordable and you have the option to buy or rent most items. Recording gear, video gear, and lighting gear. So in combination this equipment can give you a high quality video. Steve said “I like to say, even the most affordable system we sell is equal to what the Beatles used to record Abbey Road.”

“I like to say, even the most affordable system we sell is equal to what the Beatles used to record Abbey Road.” Steve Long, Long & McQuade

We talked about music as content for television and videos. How relevant is it anymore? Isn’t everyone turning to sports these days? Long pointed out how many commercials he’s seen lately that include guitars, like the TD Bank Sunday Hours commercial. Our own Midland band Born Ruffians recently created a new 2015 ad with Honda.

Cameron Monkman understood the relevance of music in his film. Music is a community. The film was a collaboration created by several artists who came together simply because they were asked to. The purpose of the film “Missing” is not to garner our sympathy, but to communicate the need for change. There is something wrong with a country who has literally lost women for the past 30 years and doesn’t bother to look for them or the criminals who stole them from us. “Missing” is a piece of art and a well told and important Canadian story.

My question to musicians is what topic is your next film going to be about?