Aidan O’Bryan: Something In The Water

There’s Something Musical In The Water: Something In The Water.

While sitting around reading street press about the Summer 2007 festival season, Aidan O’Bryan had an idea for a film. The film was ‘Something In The Water’ – a feature length documentary about the Perth music scene.

“It dawned on me that it was going to be a pretty special time for WA music and maybe it was time that someone actually made the Perth music doco that people had been talking about ever since Jebediah burst onto the scene.”

So Aiden took on the role of director with fellow WBMC employee Janelle Landers as producer and they went about making the film along with a crew of photographers, researchers and editors.

“In short we just made a few calls, bought a new camera and got on with it.” Aidan says.

And they did so without any government funding. While that meant the film was harder to afford, it did mean they had complete creative control.

“The film cost a lot of money but in the end it was really nice to have complete creative control over what we were doing and how we were doing it. The only deadlines and restrictions we had were the ones we made ourselves and in the end we only had to make ourselves happy with the final cut.” Aidan says.

Featuring the likes of Jebediah, The Stems, The Scientists, Eskimo Joe, John Butler, End of Fashion, Sex Panther, The Panics, Little Birdy and even Rolf Harris to name just a few, the film features an eclectic mixture of established and up-and-coming bands. And it was something which the bands themselves seemed to be passionate about as well. As Aiden explains:

“For the most part, getting bands on board was pretty easy, with a couple of notable exceptions being record companies who are mostly a pack of know-nothing corporations who don’t care at all about music or their rosters.  Sounds harsh but it’s unfortunately true. The great thing was that, even when we were having difficulties, bands would make calls for us to other bands and get us access to people who we might not have otherwise gotten to talk to.”

He continues: “A great example is that we weren’t getting any response from Suze DeMarchi from the Baby Animals but after speaking to Andrew Farriss from INXS, he said ‘Next time you email her, tell her I said she has to do it’.  We sent another email and got a response the next day and eventually caught up with her at her house in Los Angeles.”

While doing the film without government funding meant complete creative control – it did create somewhat of a hurdle when trying to get the rights from record labels to use songs in the film.

“Most were pretty easy, but very, very expensive to deal with regarding music rights and the like.  I guess the business side of the music business needs to exist but it’s certainly skewed away from the artists and the idea of having to pay twenty one thousand dollars for one minute of music was a difficulty,” Aidan says.

But thankfully, all the hard work paid off, with the film debuting in Perth in February to excited punters, musicians and industry alike.

“The film has been far beyond our most optimistic expectations in terms of how much people like it.  We sort of expected to be making a film that a few music fans would want to see and would enjoy but the response from almost everyone has been great.  The premiere was about the funniest film screening I’ve ever been to with people cheering all the way through – free beer helps! – and all our reviews and audience feedback has been great. The only couple of bad things that people have said have been things like ‘Why isn’t Bon Scott in it more?’ or ‘Why isn’t my band in it?’ or things like that. We knew we couldn’t include everything and everyone but so far most people have been really happy.”

Throughout July, the documentary was screened throughout the south west of WA. Local band Sugar Army tagged along and played at most of the shows. Aidan says there are plans to screen the documentary to the eastern states.

There are also plans to hopefully screen the documentary overseas at two music and film festivals, a DVD release as well as an airing on ABC’s jtv program. Several people at the ABC were interested in screening the documentary so Aidan and Janelle applied to have it be a part of the jtv docs segment.

“We agreed to put it in as a jtv docs application with the goal being to cut it down to 55 minutes for a one-hour TV broadcast.  Some of the reason we wanted to do a film independently is just how annoying it is to deal with broadcasters and funding agencies and a few of those things have been borne out but overall we’re really glad that the film’s going to have a chance to be seen by a whole lot more people.”


Something in the Water Offical website and MySpace

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Copyright (C) 2008 Christina Ballico.
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