When I mentioned that bringing my camera to a film shoot at Mao Livehouse starring our own Bedstars would be a little too meta for me, I had no idea how surreal the whole experience would be. Or how wicked fun. Let’s back up for a moment though – film is my first love. Love everything about it. The production, the crew, the grips, the Pas, the steadicam, ‘getting the scene’ – the entire process. In fact, I’ve toyed in the past with applying to the film program these scruffy film students were a part of (a quarter of a million dollar commitment as one of them told me). Anywho, here’s the logline: a bunch of NYU students, one a native Beijinger, are in town shooting a short film semi-fictionally centered on the Bedstars and the blossoming punk scene here in China. They’re shooting the big set piece – the scene where it all comes together and the Bedstars, the drunken Sex Pistols era rock n roll rascals there are, have finally the opportunity to prove their worth. That’s the basic set-up. And how do they fare, well let’s have a look…
Pretty wild eh. Now back to the reality of the situation – in order to give the scene an authentic feel, the crew needed willing participants to ‘play the part’ of concert going hooligans. Which we’re essentially anyway. And when they wanted more out of us, we gave it in spades, hooting, howling, – the whole shebang. Eventually, you’re caught up in the whole process, and you realize that, hey, I’m wilding out camera or no camera. And then the icing on the cake – free beer. The production had this happy-go-lucky PA whose job entailed giving out as much free beer as humanly possible so that we loosed up. But seriously, this guy was dead set on bringing the booze – in fact, I’m pretty sure the guy was plastered himself, slipping and sliding across the floor with delight as he made sure everyone’s hand had a can in it. Soon enough, by the time a couple showed up in dinosaur costumes, the whole place was a complete shitshow. Gotta love movie magic.
And the Bedstars, well they gave a heck of a show. But essentially they had to, right – they were on camera for crying out loud (not mine mind you). If that’s not pressure then I don’t know what is. Nevertheless, they brought an energy to their show that was undeniable, and put on a ‘performance’ that had the crowd going nuts. Everyone was spot on, from lead Zhao Kai on vocals to Li Fan on drums, upholding the wobbly image of rock stars who slug though his own material with gleeful precise reckless abandon. It’s a thin line, but the Bedstars land of the right side of that line. These are quick, dirty catchy tunes that don’t bullshit around.
Yet at the same time, my mind was being manhandled by this strange feeling. Was I being bribed to have a good time so they could ‘get the shot’? Bands put on performances every day, that’s what being a rock star is. As manufactured as the scene might have been, we were still there doing what we would be doing anyway. As were they. Right? There is no spoon. Eventually I said fuck it and grabbed another beer and enjoyed the good tunes, like this cover of The Dead Boys, and marveled at the beauty of film.
Bet those film school geeks had a hoot when they saw the makeshift steadicam they rented out. Can\’t wait to see the finished product.