With Other Music – our documentary on New York’s beloved independent record store that closed in 2016 – we decided to make a film about the loss of physical space, and therefore the community it housed. We knew losing a place like Other Music wasn’t just about bricks, paint, wood, and merchandise. We knew that these places mattered in a much larger and more human sense. When Other Music closed in 2016, we lost a particular place that was important to us and many others, but our motivation for making a film was not just to preserve the memory of a specific cultural institution. We hoped that by describing the loss of a community we could inspire others to support and try to save similar cultural centers that mean something to them, be it record stores, bookstores , video clubs, arthouse theaters, concert halls and neighborhood cafes. We had no idea how badly things would need to be saved in 2020.
When the United States began to lock down in late March, we were preparing for the scheduled theatrical release of Other Music. It was due to screen in April at theaters like the O Cinema in Miami, the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA, the Regent Street Cinema in London and at the IFC Center in New York, a short walk from Washington. Square. Park from where Other Music has existed for over two decades. The film was even going to be played on repeat at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland all day for Record Store Day on Saturday April 17th! Suddenly there wouldn’t even be Record Store Day at all, and the theaters that had planned to show our movie had closed their doors and put the staff on leave. Many of them were already running GoFundMe campaigns to try to pay their rent and hopefully stay afloat until the storm passes.
As excited as we were to have our first movie in theaters, we realized very quickly that there was no point in being disappointed that things weren’t going to go as planned. We were all in the same boat. Everyone’s life and work has been turned upside down, and like everyone else, we have had to adjust our expectations, improvise and adapt to the new reality. We were very lucky to have a distribution partner in Matt Grady from Factory 25 who was proactive and didn’t just delay things indefinitely and wait for the pandemic to go away. We all decided together that if people couldn’t be physically in the record stores on Record Store Day, why not give them the opportunity to spend an hour and a half at Other Music through our film? We offered the movie for rental online starting over the weekend of what was supposed to be Record Store Day, in direct partnership with record stores around the world as well as some of the theaters that intended to show the film. Our “virtual theater” outing raised a total of over $ 25,000 for these small businesses – a drop in the bucket compared to the overall losses they suffered, but at least we were able to use our film to help. in a small way in a time of extraordinarily great need. And we heard from foreigners as far away as Japan and New Zealand who told us that they rented the movie and fell in love with Other Music, although they never put the money into it. feet.
Now, four months later, most of us are still stuck at home, and the end of this pandemic is nowhere in sight. Businesses that suffered in April are still not close to anything that might qualify as “normal.” Record stores sell their wares online or open for a handful of shoppers at a time, and a delayed version of Record Store Day is finally taking place in a scaled-down and socially distant fashion from August 29. been able to work at all since the start of the pandemic are pushing Congress for a bailout so they can reopen one day, but so far with no real success. Over time, unfortunately we have started to become numb to the unfathomable losses that are happening every day and everywhere. For example, what comedy fan would have imagined in January 2020 that not even in the middle of the year, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater would no longer operate in New York?
Imagining what the world might be like when we can finally get out safely from our homes and be close to each other again is scary and sobering. It makes us realize that as sad as it was that Other Music had to shut down, at least its customers were able to walk into the store one last time to buy a record, say goodbye, and happily celebrate their long run in person. . with other people who loved the place. How many companies will not have the chance to do so? For us, it is a heartbreaking scenario.
(Photo credit: Robert M. Nielsen)