Silversonic showcase expands to three days, invites alums

by Annie Huang / Beacon Staff • November 18, 2015

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Jackson Adams, ‘10, directed videos for Watsky and Hoodie Allen.
Courtesy of Jackson Adams
Jackson Adams, ‘10, directed videos for Watsky and Hoodie Allen.
Courtesy of Jackson Adams

A field of flowers frames a girl’s face, her eyes stare toward the sky, and a single drop of blood drips from her left nostril. 

The image is a still from one of the many featured films of the fourth annual Silversonic student and alumni music video showcase, and it’s pictured on the event’s promotional banner. This year it’s bigger than ever, expanding to a full three-day extravaganza, hosted at the Bright Family Screening Room.

Anna Feder, the director of programming in the visual and media arts department, said she is always trying to bring in Emerson alumni or professionals in the working field.

“I want to connect the students with alums who are successfully making music videos as a career, or using it as a way to get into making feature films,” Feder said.

To kick off Silversonic last Tuesday, Shannen Ortale, ‘09, screened “Sound + Vision,” which premiered at the Boston Underground Film Festival in March. 

“Sound + Vision” is a collection of music videos directed by both international and local filmmakers and assembled by Ortale, a 27-year-old. Described as “a lovingly curated mixtape from your slightly-skewed best friend,” the showcase featured experimental and strange videos, according to Ortale.

“I tried to curate a collection of videos that have a dark side to them and in the style of the Boston Underground Film Festival, which is very horror-inspired,” Ortale said.

Ortale, who has screened her films in previous Silversonic showcases, said she does not see a lot of music video programs today, nor did she back when she was in school. She said she hoped the program’s expansion would raise more awareness for this profession to the students.

“[I think] it’s good to take something from the Internet and show it to a living, breathing audience,” Ortale said. “Since music videos are mostly on YouTube and Vimeo, putting them on the big screen gives them more respect and that brings something new to the tradition of film.”

Feder said she founded Silversonic to highlight music video production at Emerson.

“It's really a way to celebrate what the students and alumni are making and to recognize [them] as both an art form and a viable career path,” Feder said.

On Wednesday, Jackson Adams, ‘10, a Los Angeles-based director who has made videos for artists like Watsky and Hoodie Allen, showed his work and spoke about producing and getting involved in the industry after graduation. According to his website, Adams’ online content has a total of over 160 million views. In an interview, the 28-year-old said he wished Emerson brought up music videos more often in classes, and that he encourages students to take the medium more seriously. 

“Even sketch comedy or anything related to branded work involves music videos,” Adams said. “I think having that understanding of how to approach and produce them is a really important skill to have.”

Adams said he believes Silversonic will be a great opportunity for students to talk to working professionals.

“Almost everyone I currently work with went to Emerson,” Adams said. “Without my network, I would not have the courage to make the move to Los Angeles to pursue my career.” 

Jon Denton, a sophomore visual and media arts major, directed “Little Hinges/Hang Me” by Qristina & Quinn Bachand and “Concept Knife” by Island Ephemera, which are both featured on the last night of the event. The former features the girl on the Silversonic poster. 

Denton said a lot of his short films focus on the abstract without any direct explanation. He also said that as someone in the process of figuring out music video production on his own, Silversonic would be a great opportunity to bump shoulders with professionals. 

“A lot of the credit for music videos [is] often being put on the musician rather than the actual director who produced it,” Denton said. “So I think [Silversonic] provides a good space for people who produce music videos to share their work and make themselves known among others who have the same interest.”