As we draft material that reflects on C-U Blogfidential and the concurrent movie culture of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, during the past 10 years, we’re bound to remind ourselves of story ideas and series that went unfulfilled. Some will be left in the pixelated dust while others are deemed worthy of a second look. Our tuneful “Images of the Week” is inspired by the latter thought as we revive an “IOW” subset – music videos – last examined a year ago. The common denominator for today is Urbana’s John Isberg, interviewed last week by Buzz magazine and introduced on CUBlog a while back, who has turned out a good number of local artist videos as Swede Films. Isberg is also undertaking a feature documentary on our music scene’s recent history, WHERE IT BEGINS, in addition to a full-length portrait of a paranormal investigator, THE GHOST COWBOY. We can’t help but admire his energy and self-motivation.
Below CUBlog shares three Swede samplings. The first is an evocative video for Elsinore’s “The Great Communicator,” released as a digital single in October. Inky shadows and muted color tones nod to the likes of David Fincher and David Lynch in this scenario, shot in the Rantoul area with Chad Olson, Charlie Kessler, Iman Sharabash, and Frank Engel as crew. Elsinore lead singer Ryan Groff plays a protagonist whose conscience is haunted by an ill-fated acquaintance, embodied by Chicago actress and model Emily Bennett, while being lulled by a rather lost-looking highway.
Next is an intimate video shot by Isberg in a back room of the Parasol Label Group building near downtown Urbana. In it, the second of a Swede “live” series, “Watchtower” is performed by We the Animals – Kayla Brown, Mikael Brackett, Mark Wyman, and Joe Funderburk – with sound engineering and mixing provided by Elsinore’s James Treichler. One should note the presence of string lighting as set dressing, a favorite visual device used by the filmmaker in all three pieces embedded here. The song hails from We the Animals’ demo EP released in 2014 through Bandcamp.
Last and hop-ily not least, we arrive at the most bunny-ful clip all told! “Great Lakes” by Motes fills the soundscape with pop-fuzz bliss as a once-loved stuffed rabbit, relegated to a “FREE” box in a knick-knack shop, comes to life and hitches rides to the band’s gig in the hope it can reunite with its human family. Isberg and assistant director Jen Province smartly use downtown Champaign locations for the action while Thomas Nicol of Pens to Lens fame puts his plush animal experience to good use here. “Great Lakes” appears on the debut Motes album Keep It in the Dark from Heirship Records.
Plenty more can be enjoyed at the Swede Films account on Vimeo such as “8 Track” by Truck Parts, “Bounder” by Cody Lee, “Freeway” also by Motes, “Gemini” by Moonwish, “Trash” by Kenna Mae, “Wave” by Boycut, and “Wish I Was Missing You More” by Rebecca Rego with Kenna Mae, one of which will figure in a near-future “IOW.” Look for the Champaign Ladies Amateur Wrestling (CLAW) promotions as well! Although we will revisit this late-blooming videographer’s adventures in due time, you will probably see plenty of fanfare elsewhere in our community as he progresses on WHERE IT BEGINS. Described as “CU Music Documentary 1977-2000” on Facebook, its time frame overlaps and extends beyond the eras recounted in INCIDENT AT KICKAPOO CREEK and OUT OF NOWHERE and is just as sorely needed as those prior films by R.C. Raycraft and Bob Zimmerman, respectively. The C-U music saga continues!
~ Jason Pankoke