Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Steinberg (KAOTIC DRUMLINE: DRUMMING WITH A DIFFERENCE)

KAOTIC DRUMLINE: DRUMMING WITH A DIFFERENCE played to rave reviews at the September 2021 MUSIC Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Another project led directly into this one! (I had been the music composer, and ultimately, became one of the co-producers on a new Chicago-based feature documentary “Tomorrow’s Hope,” which had a different focus – exploring Early Education against a backdrop of deep systemic inequality.) But in that film, live drumline music had been a memorable and important element, both onscreen and offscreen. As a result of that process and in developing a relationship with drummers Jamie and Jamal Poindexter (the father and son also featured in “Kaotic Drumline: Drumming With A Difference”), some of us were getting the feeling that a piece specifically about the drumline could resonate, inspire and likely even surprise people.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

From greenlight to finish, it was a month for this short. And from past experiences, I’ve learned that having a “hard deadline” as we did with this one – although sometimes pain-inducing – is often the way projects truly happen.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Tough Question!

Ha. Okay. How about “Transformation Rhythms.”

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Maybe it was hitting that hard deadline we had? But somehow we got it across the finish line in time, despite all the moving parts – and in the end, just as we’d hoped to somehow when the dust cleared. In terms of obstacles, a close second would be probably producing the film within necessary covid protocols. (That, along with other daunting problems solved, are thanks only to the wizardry of our producer Tamra Raven!)

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

What a treat! Thank you all so much. It was just a joy to hear how the film moved and intrigued people, and also it was very encouraging to hear the ways in which the positive, socially-conscious aspects of what this particular musical group is trying to do clearly resonated. Cool to see that the section exploring the individual instruments – bringing the audience “behind the curtain” – seemed to bring the performances closer! Separately – just from a strictly filmmaking perspective – compliments on the pacing and quality of the work are always great to hear. (You never really know if they’re gonna see what you see, right?) Glad also to hear appreciation for our cinematographer Doug Clevenger’s approach. In a broader sense, it’s so rewarding when an audience’s experience seems to connect you right back to your original intentions – when it feels like maybe you actually achieved what you set out to do.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

When I was a small kid! My mom had some Super 8 film cameras and I used to try all kinds of nutty, ill-advised things with those, and luckily I had some friends that were game to do it with me. Honestly, it was so fun. Then my dad had gotten himself a video camera, and before long, we also soon absconded with that.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I have no idea at all so I’ll throw out a few, and hopefully you won’t get mad at me for it: Wizard of Oz, Apocalypse Now, Purple Rain, Casablanca, Star Wars, Get Out, Vertigo, Do The Right Thing, Harold and Maude, Singin’ In The Rain, Deep Cover, Young Frankenstein, Dr. Strangelove, Murder My Sweet, Blade Runner, They Live, Office Space, Planet Of The Apes (original).

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Oh, it works well. Easy to navigate and also has an impressive variety of festivals from all over the world, which we find exciting and fun.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Today – Mexican? Tomorrow – Indian? Day after – Texas BBQ? And what about Korean BBQ? Getting a bit hungry right about now, come to think of it.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

At present we are working on a new music video for my band, Captain Danger! Previously we’d worked with genius cinematographer Dane Lawing on our oddball Sci-Fi music video for the Captain Danger song “Holly.” And now that seems to have gotten all our juices flowing again for this next adventure together. Stay tuned!

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