Countless entrants supplied the panel of judges with their stunning, moving and absorbing photographic and video entries, each one shadowed by an individual and once-in-a-lifetime back story. These were whittled down to a handful of 21 finalists whose personal live experiences were combined and immortalized in the short film Epic directed by Toby Dye of Ridley Scott Associates. His previous experience in documentary-making with the likes of Spike Milligan and the much admired music video for Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus clearly prove Toby’s suitability in the role as well as on the judging panel. Thus Epic sounds as if it may well prove to be an effective mash-up of documentary and music video… but a film to capture the power of live music? That’s quite a statement
Yes, I was a little sceptical too and during interview Toby was in fact the first to admit that using film to capture the essence of music is no easy task “but when done well, it can be brilliant.” The winning entries were therefore chosen not only for their inspirational and entertaining stories but for their overall impression as an enduring, personally historic moment in that person’s life. Apparently for Toby the overall winner was chosen solely on the aesthetic quality of their image/footage but what a hell of a story that winner had. One Liam Wood received a glitzy trip to Hollywood accompanied by a wagon-load of LA-based treats because last December he took his girlfriend Leona May down to snow-blanketed London to see Paramore in concert where he proposed on stage in front of thousands of people, a moment which was captured with subtle, effortless beauty on film.
The film was screened in Studio 1 on the stage that would soon be filled with musicians for the Gala finale. Toby Dye, the finalists and all of those involved in piecing together Epic can give themselves a standing ovation for an outstanding understanding of how we relate to art no matter what form it takes. The film was truly mesmerizing and uplifting as it carefully untangled and played all the strings in that heady and addictive web of emotions we feel when we experience our own personal soul-food. The first roar of the crowd as the lights go down at a concert provides the same adrenalin rush we experience when our football team storms onto the field to an explosion of chanting or that magic hush that rushes over the audience when the curtains open at the cinema and reveal a greatly anticipated movie. Epic captures the spirit of live experience. Alternating between the shaky footage from the point of view of the sweaty and excited crowd to the slow and deliberate motions of meticulous camera work, 21 stories blur seamlessly into one collective event whilst simultaneously shouting out their own individual and distinctive message. The film captures a spectrum of perspective ranging from the youngest, most excited fan to the most seasoned and undaunted photo-journalist in a way which does not blur or muffle the magnitude of their live story.
The panel of judges included acclaimed artist and producer Mark Ronson who alongside his talented band the Business Intl. performed an exclusive gig for the lucky 21 who arrived in style in order to witness the film’s premiere as well as an assortment of celebrities scattered amongst the exhilarated audience such as Simon le Bon, Channel 4’s Ricky Wilson, Jameela Jamil, Michelle Ryan and the Sugababes. He put on quite a show.
It must be said Abbey Road pulled out all the stops and hosted an incredibly enjoyable event with various interactive celebrations of music and its power to change people’s lives and tattoo their memories. With studios 1,2 and 3 transformed into our own personal playground, concert hall, auditorium and cinema there was little I or anybody else could do to contain their delight. If you’ve never visited a large recording studio before then you’re probably not aware that the rooms themselves aren’t merely ordinary rooms. Studio 1 at Abbey Road is roughly the size of a small air-craft hanger and because of the way sound travels and settles it’s impossible not to note that these large beautiful rooms were specifically chosen for their asymmetry, impressively lofty ceilings and often quirky design to provide the best arena to record music. Even the venue for the premiere of Epic hints heavily at just what a potent combination impressive aesthetic and powerful music can make. To name but one entertaining activity that some of the guests were treated to during the night was an opportunity to sing and record a Beatles medley in Studio 3 for half an hour. My arm candy and I didn’t half feel like rock stars with those headphones on, the cameras tracking all thirty faces, including Michelle Ryan’s, as we belted out ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘With a little help from my friends.’ Doubtless our vocal efforts will undergo some serious auto-tuning before that record ever surfaces but still… Pretty epic.