A good litmus test for ideas around Musicbed is not related to the ‘what’ of the matter, but more to the ‘why’ of the matter. It bleeds into everything we do. Every email, social media post meeting — we have to think about what value we’re bringing to the table. What worth does it have? We’ve just wrapped up our most ambitious project to date, and, for once, we’re not sure what sort of value we’re bringing to the table — that part’s up to you.
As we collectively hold our breath, waiting to release our first feature-length documentary, we’re reminding ourselves what brought our team here in the first place. Why we spent two years and a ton of resources producing a feature-length film that may or may not be successful. MAKE, a title we came up with after months of deliberation, is finally here, and, if nothing else, it’s something we believe in.
We had an honest conversation with Musicbed CEO Daniel McCarthy after post-production wrapped up, about why we decided to make the film. We’ll break it apart below, but first we’ll let him tell you in his words:
We didn’t necessarily want to talk about the process of creating. We wanted to talk about why we create. I do think a lot of people talk about the creative process, I don’t think anyone has talked about what drives us to create.
We’ve been making short films as a company for a long time, and we’ve noticed something. Almost every comment we read about the films — they’re not dissecting the story. They’re not saying how it impacted them. Every comment is, ‘What did you shoot this on? What lens?’ It’s all how-to crap. They’re wondering how they can imitate something. They’re asking the wrong question. You keep asking us ‘how’, but you didn’t ask us ‘why.’ It’s indicative of a much larger problem, one that people in the creative world have battled since art was a thing.
It’s time to have a conversation about what drives us to create — passion or success. I think one of the strongest values we have at Musicbed is relationships. The basis of a good relationship is vulnerability. If we want to build real relationships, I think it requires that we get real with people.
My hope is that creatives can see the film for what it is, and that they can see themselves in each one of these characters. Not everyone that watches it is going to be a filmmaker or a musician. I think the act of creating is so basic-level human, that if you see it from the big picture, it doesn’t matter what you do as a career.
While the response to the film is yet to be determined, we’re certainly proud of it. Ultimately, see it for yourself to make a judgment. But allow us to share three reasons why we think MAKE does have value, and why we felt it was more than just an idea.
What is this moment that you’re chasing, and do you really think it’s going to fulfill you?
THERE’S A PROBLEM
Accolades have been a part of the art world since art existed. Before the Oscars, before the Grammys, there were still people wanting, needing recognition for their work. No artist is above it. MAKE’s premise is simple. How do you define success, and make sense of it as a creative?
As an artist, what happens to your work when you forget the passion that got you there in the first place and start worrying about likes, followers and dollars? The inevitability of the matter is that we’re all going to end up in the same place — a point where success no longer holds any value. The mindset we see so often in our industry is so focused on the next goal, instead of focusing on the moment, the act of creating something new.
But like we said, this isn’t a new problem. Artists have always sought success over the passion of the craft. Ultimately, the person seeking success is left empty when they find what they’ve been seeking so desperately. This is the catalyst for MAKE. We’ll let Daniel sum this section up:
There’s this idea that a major league baseball player’s favorite and most depressing day are the same day. It’s the day they win the World Series. It’s the most fulfilling and most depressing day of their lives, because they reach their destiny and then all of a sudden realize there’s nothing else.
We wanted to ask creatives, ‘what is this moment that you’re chasing, and do you really think it’s going to fulfill you?’ Because it can’t. It never will. If the thing you’re chasing will never fulfill, maybe it’s time to decide if you’re chasing the right thing.
MAKE is not a sermon; it’s not a lesson. It’s us having a conversation with our peers — one we all need to have.
THERE’S AN OPPORTUNITY
Something Christian Schultz, the director for MAKE, told us after post-production finished, was that two phrases were running through his head the whole time: ‘don’t give up’ and ‘don’t do this for the wrong reasons’.
‘Am I doing this for the wrong reasons’ is a question that’s not asked enough in our industry.
As Daniel would say, call the film what you want — a passion project, a statement, entertainment or a monumental flop — just don’t call it a marketing ploy. This is us, Musicbed, baring our hearts to the world, being vulnerable and hoping you make the same connection we have.
We felt very strongly about this film, not only because we think creatives need it more than ever, but also because we need it more than ever. As a company, what is it that we’re trying to chase? What happens when we get there? It’s important for us to remember that we’re living a creative life just as much as the people that are watching the film.
Our responsibility as creatives, sharing this life, is to call out a problem when we see it — a problem that affects us all. We’re passionate about living a healthy life, and we want to see the people we serve live that life too.
We have a unique perspective at Musicbed, that’s why we made the film. We see filmmakers and musicians fall into the same traps every day. We see their personal lives collapse when they realize the ‘success’ they’ve been chasing has no sustaining value.
MAKE is not a sermon, it’s not a lesson. It’s us having a conversation with our peers — one we all need to have.
It’s time to have an honest conversation about why we do the things we do, and maybe we’ll come out of the other side having learned something.
THERE’S A CONVERSATION
Every person we interviewed for this documentary had different thoughts on balancing success in their own creative career. They didn’t have answers, per se, but they do have experience. They have failures and successes.
Ultimately, the designers, filmmakers and musicians we spoke with were completely open to the idea of dissecting the themes in the film. It’s a subject we feel that people want to talk about, but never really address. Their thoughts were enlightening, and we felt worthy of basing a documentary around.
The opportunity we all have, and really the solution, is to have a conversation. This idea of battling our own egos, changing our motives and finding real peace in our work affects us all.
And that brings us to the underlying motive behind MAKE. We love people. Our goal as a brand is for ‘success’, whatever that may mean, to be a byproduct of loving the people we represent. The people we work with. This industry can be cold and dark. It can be harsh. What would happen if we stopped trying to top one another and created work from our own hearts, regardless of what the end result would be?
That’s the key. Every person has some element of creativity that affects their life. It’s time to have an honest conversation about why we do the things we do, and maybe we’ll come out of the other side having learned something.
Everyone is going to have their own thoughts and opinions. That’s the whole point. We’ve worked very hard to make this documentary a possibility, and after two years we’re close to taking a deep breath and letting out a sigh.
The entire team involved has pushed harder than they ever have on this project. We’re so thankful for the crew, the people we interviewed that let us invade their spaces and the people we’ve collaborated with during production. It’s been a labor of love for the people we work with, and work for, every day.
We’re re-releasing the film this Fall, so in the meantime, take a few minutes to watch the trailer for MAKE below.