Editorial: Dysfunction Junction - Publication: LA Weekly - Date: June 2010
Sunset Junction, Silverlake is hallowed ground for many ardent music fans, from Spaceland to Silverlake Lounge, to Elliot Smith’s shrine and that questionably priced namesake street fair, the area is undoubtedly ripe with history and smacks of kudos and authenticity.
Regardless of whether they are in fact local, it seems there’s a legion of hopefuls projecting their fervent territorialism (and imaginations) on Sunset Junction – High on self importance and the cache associated with being comped at The Echo, these folk cherish this slice of musical history like its either their first born or some unique species, as if the area is some elongated music video set.
To these valued members of society, Sunset Junction is a last bastion of all that counts – something that could be forever lost if they avert their eyes long enough. It’s a place where they wistfully gaze, as if conjuring imagined ( and dated) fantasies about some indie utopia with ensuing visions of say Elliot Smith, Beck and assorted members of The Silversun Pickups sauntering along Sunset boulevard after masking their Spaceland hangovers with a carb heavy breakfast at Millies.
So it smacks of a little irony ( and in the face of the aforementioned) audacity when Los Feliz resident Jesus Rodriguez a Venezuelan born Indie film maker/director recently started publicizing his first film, a musical project focusing on the area. Why ? Rather than capture some contrived pseudo art fashion documentary, he instead created a traditional, high camp, all singing all dancing musical called Sunset Junction.
Add to this the audacious addition of a love triangle storyline, “exploring a struggling star falling in and out of love with her co stars,” and it seems he’s begging for trouble by a staunch legion of snarky hacks scraping a living in LA.
Indeed, met with a trailer of the film on website LAist, one less than visible blogger, bent on compensatory bombast, extolled, as if defending hallowed turf, “it makes the most gentrified parts of Silver Lake look like Melrose Place shot by a bunch of amateurs. That, and a general Flashdance/Showgirls vibe, without the metallurgy or the tits.”
Jesus says while he’s a little offput by the scornful tone, he’s content with the appraisal stating the obvious, let alone the naïve sentiment behind Silverlake’s eschewing some apparent “edgy,” aesthetic. “Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the backdrop is, its kind of irrelivent really its basically a story about falling in and out of love,
“I think there is a level of irony in seeing people that are supposedly hardcore indie musical types performing in a musical, it kind of mission accomplished if that’s the sort of reaction that local press will offer.”
Emphasizing that the hipster/ indie vibe isn’t so elitist anymore, Jesus also points out that Silverlake was one of the first areas of the inner east to undergo gentrification and nowadays has around as many six figure yuppies as the likes of Santa Monica.
Still that’s not to say the film is peppered with a cheesy commercial soundtrack. There are edgy songs from 13 different artists and bands who to extricate “Sunset Junction,” from being the next distraction for the world’s Justin Beiber fans. Amongst them are the likes of Helen Stellar Maleco Collective, Jail Weddings, and soundtrack composer duo Marc Dold and Judith Martin (Blood Diamonds and Little Miss Sunshine).
The film was shot on a was shot on a on a budget of less than $10,000. With a Canon 7D, which is originally intended for still pictures. Jesus reveals additional logistical snippets, “ We gathered more than one hundred people that volunteered their time and their work to make this project a reality. We shot during 35 days and used 27 locations all for free.”
While the moniker “indie,” is ia little nebulous nowadays given the latent destruction of the record label hierarchy and infrastructure, Jesus feels comfy calling Sunset Junction an indie-musical.
Revisiting the whole perception of his film’s backdrop as the antithesis of the Hollywood ethos, he reflects that this concept is a tad pretentious, and “somewhat naïve. In the face of clichés about passion, artistry and scene mongering, Jesus says he’s more a realist,. “Its ironic and maybe naïve to still perceive Silverlake as this bastion of indie music where the exponents aren’t remotely interested in attaining any form of success.”
“In the end, no matter what they say, people in the entertainment industry want to succeed and get recognition for what they do.”