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November 19, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-19

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 19, 2010 - 5A

First film for
First Element

production company
0 premieres maiden movie
Daily Arts Writer
Since the passage of the film tax incen-
tive program here in Michigan in 2008, the
number of creative production crews in the
state has reached unprec-

edented levels. But with
Hollywood films being
shot on and around the
University's campus and
their actors visiting Ann
Arbor hotspots in their
downtime, it can be easy
to gloss over the more
important, lasting effects
of the incentives: local
film production compa-

The Art of
at 8p.m.
Michigan Theater
Tickets from $9

nies based in Michigan itself.
One such company is First Element
Entertainment, a start-up production com-
pany in Detroit. Started by University alum
Adrian Walker, the company works with
film, music and other media, with the goal of
gathering industry professionals together to
bring original forms of entertainment into
the mainstream.
Walker described the fateful meeting at
the University that propelled him to start
the company in Michigan.
"I went to a (business) school event where
Spike Lee was coming to speak to the stu-
dents," he said. "I was able to have a one-on-
one conversation with him and he actually
suggested that instead of trying to go to Hol-
lywood, we should just start up and try to do
our thing here."
About two years later, the company is
prepared to complete its first foray into film
production with the release of "The Art of
Power," which will roll out its red carpet for
a premiere on Nov. 20 at the Michigan The-
ater. The film follows Wesley (Scott Nor-
man), a young D.C. adult who looks to exact

revensge against a powerful senator (Peter
Carey), embroiling two women (Erin Nicole
and Marisa Stober) into his life as his plan
Shot on a miniscule budget in both Michi-
gan and Washington D.C. and starring new-
comers, the film is emblematic of the new
Michigan film industry - small, burgeoning
and ambitious.
. "The production was very large-scale
for our budget," said Walker, who serves as
writer and executive producer for "The Art
of Power." "We ran a skeleton crew in D.C.
of about 16 people, but when we came back
here it probably went up to about 30 people
without extras or actors ... it was basically
12 days production in D.C. and 17 days in
The scale of the production was made
possible by advancements in camera tech-
nology, which allowed the filmmakers to
achieve state-of-the-art picture quality
without investing the time and money asso-
ciated with film stock. The crew shot on the
Red camera, the premiere digital film-alter-
native camera currently taking Hollywood
- and particularly independent filmmaking
- by storm.
"The cost of production would have been
over a million dollars if we had used film
stock," Walker said.
Beyond its production, however, it was
important that almost all post-production
on the film took place in-state, and not just
the incentivized film shoot.
"I feel like incentives are just the cata-
lysts that spur the industry forward," Walk-
er said. "They're not the long-term vision I
think this state should have."
The exception to the Michigan post-
production is the film's score, which fea-
tures two different composers. Half of the
score was recorded in Chennai, India by
The Acoustricks, a group stemming from
the KM Music Conservatory, which is run
by Academy Award-winning composer A.R.
Rahman ("Slumdog Millionaire").
Beyond "The Art of Power," First Element
Entertainment hopes to continue producing
See ELEMENT, Page 6A

Daily Arts Writer
"Aida," MUSKET's first musical of the
season, a powerhouse of contemporary
music and ancient themes, bridges its
extremes with a uni-
versal plotline: a love
"Aida" has origins Tonight and
in an opera by the tomorrow at
same name. The story 8 p.m., Sunday
focuses on the strug- at 2 p m.
gle of Aida, a Nubian
princess and recently Power Center
captured slave, and Ticketsfrom $7
an Egyptian captain,
Radames, to pursue
their romance while remaining loyal to
their combating countries.
"Aida" fulfilled the producers' crite-
ria of a show that was commercial and
attention-grabbing, as well as artistical-
ly pleasing and comedic. Casting for the
show began during the second or third
week of classes with rehearsals immedi-
ately following.
MUSKET is a student-run theater
group sponsored by the University
Activities Center.
"I feel like Aida was a good compro-
mise, because it's a big show ... but at the
same time not many people have seen
it because it hasn't gone on tours," said
Patrick Fromuth, a senior in the school
of Music, Theatre & Dance and one of
the show's producers.
With music written by Elton John
and Tim Rice, "Aida" covers a broad
spectrum of genres, ranging from
rock to gospel to disco. The powerful
soundtrack will reverberate through the
Power Center via a 14-member student
"The music can be removed from
the musical and out of context it is still
really relevant, and I think that's just

Elton John's genius," said Jake McClory
an MT&D senior and music director for
"Aida." "There's three songs that (Aida
and Radames) sing twice. I thought it
was really repetitive, but when you put
it with the story, it made sense that they
were going through these changes but
feeling the same."
The choreography mirrors the music's
variety of styles, but many of the dancers
had minimal previous experience.
"It's a blessing and a curse to work
with a cast that doesn't have a lot of
dance training, but it's been a beautiful
challenge," said Edith Freyer, a junior in
LSA and MT&D and the show's choreog-
rapher. "It came down to looking sharp
and keeping things simple and trying to
tell a greater story."
"Aida" will still show off beautiful
choreography with a featured dancer,
Sadie Yarrington an LSA and MT&D
MUSKET's 'Aida'
is modernized with
the addition of
video projections.
"I'm not somebody who really under-
stands dance, but when (Sadie) dances,
I'm just in complete awe," Fromuth
added. "Seeing Sadie and Edith work
truly makes me see the value and the tal-
ent it takes to do all of that."
In addition to the music and dance
spectacles of "Aida," the set design is
augmented with video projections,
which will be operated by two alumni
who came back to the University in
order to use this equipment.

"It's going to be like a movie mixed
with theater, but it's more or less high-
lighting what's happening in the scene,"
said Kathryn Pamula, a Business and
MT&D junior and one of the producers.
"This is where theater is going, and we
have the opportunity to take more risks
than otherwise."
"It's not one of those plays where we
black out and there's a scene change -
its constantly flowing, kind of like our
dreams," added director Richard Gras-
so, an MT&D junior. "We're not remem-
bering everything, but the big impact
moments of the dream."
Evoking this dreamlike narrative
state, the show begins and ends with a
set resembling a modern-day museum.
With the aid of video projectors, the
audience is transported into the hazy
storytelling space that exists for the
majority of the musical. The artifacts
and pieces in the museum will unravel
an ancient Egyptian set in a surreal
"It's book-ended with this museum
scene so we can be reminded of the mod-
ern day audience and how this musical is
still relevant to us regardless of the time
period," Grasso said. "It's a timeless
story ... and we can relate to that today
- whether it be through racial segre-
gation, orientation segregation, we can
still see that in modern times."
Bringing "Aida" to a college stage
brings increased relevance, as many of
the themes in the show are applicable
to students, particularly on this campus
with our theme semester, "What makes
life worth living?"
"Not only is it striking and stirring
and sexy, it kind of plays into Mary Sue
Coleman's widening your worldview
and cultural diversity at Michigan,
which we take alot of pride in," Fromuth
said. "The show is kind of a celebration
of crossing those cultural divides."

The title character of "Aida" is a Nubian slave princess.
Elton's Egyptian epic

Not good music

DailyArts Writer
Stereolab - an experimental post-rock
band formed in 1990 that created the 1996
sonic gem Emperor Tomato Ketchup -
announced in 2009 that it was going on
hiatus indefinitely, much
to the disappointment of
the band's devoted fan **
base. But less than a year
later, the group is back Stereolab
with a new album, Not Not Music
Music. Unfortunately, Not
Music's content sounds sragly
just as bland and unexcit-
ing as the title implies.
On Not Music, the songs seamlessly shift
from one to the next while Letitia Sadi-
er's breathy vocals blend from English to
French intermittently - and often ideci-
pherably. The album's purpose seems puz-
zling - it doesn't really add anything new
or innovative to Stereolab's discography,
and it's not a fun listen. Kind of an ironic
bummer for a band hailed by The Indepen-
dent as "one of the most fiercely indepen-
dent and original groups of the Nineties."
The album does have its bright moments.
"Silver Sands," remixed by Emperor
Machine, is a 10-minute synth-heavy dance
jam that recalls Stereolab's glory days as a
krautrock-influenced band. The motorik

rhythm is reminiscent of German electron-
icband Kraftwerk's repetitious mechanical
sound. The song has a denser, more fore-
boding feel in comparison to the album's
throwaway tracks.
However, these enjoyable moments are
sparsely found on Not Music. Not that any
of the songs are objectionable - it's only
that they could be much better if the band
returned to its garage-rock roots. "Delu-
geoisie" is about as cheery as a deluge. Sadi-
er drones on while a sagging tempo and
tragic trombone provides the background.
Overall, the album is eminently forget-
table. The "Neon Beanbag" remix that
Atlas Sound provides on the record's final
track is a reminder of this. The original,
which was the first track on Stereolab's
2008 release Chemical Chords, is just bet-
ter. Sorry, Bradford Coix.
Through the years, Stereolab's sound has
devolved from its more innovative roots
toward more inoffensively lighthearted
pop songs. Consequently, listening to
the 13-track LP feels a lot like swimming
through tepid, lukewarm water. It's not an
altogether unpleasant experience, but it's
still relatively mind-numbing. Likewise,
most of the tracks fail to stir listeners'
interest and don't leave much of a lasting
impression. Instead, the album serves only
as a minor ripple in Stereolab's consider-
able discography.

At UMMA, performance
puts the museum on exhibit

For theDaily
When walking through a museum,
it's easy to dismiss the mundane and
irrelevant elements and focus on a
curated journey. How-
ever, the conventional Collections:
concept of "museum- UMMA
going" is challenged
at University of Michi- Saturday at
gan Museum of Art's 1:30 p.m.
latest and one-day-
only show, "Collec- UMMA
tions: UMMA." Free
The site-specific
performance includes
an impromptu score coupled with a
pre-recorded film of UMMA's archi-
tecture. The video, created by School of
Art & Design MFA candidate John Kan-
nenberg, provides a structure for the
live improvisational sounds by various
musicians, including School of Music,
Theatre & Dance professor Stephen
While many Art & Design students
travel to UMMA to examine the art-
work behind the cases, Kannenberg
spent his time listening in the galler-
ies. The sounds encouraged him to then
seek the visual oddities around the
"I've done all of this visual research
around the museum - collecting all of
these images in the museum, which is
everything but the art," he explained.
This unconventional process led him to
create a piece about UMMA itself.
As the project began to unfold, both
the environment and the video dem-
onstrate a sense of new meets old; the
video score is displayed in both the
original building (Apse Gallery) and
the rscently added Maxine and Stuart

Frankel Family Wing (Vertical Gal-
lery). In fact, each frame in Kannen-
berg's video is sliced and shows one
image from each the Apse and Vertical
galleries. He primarily focused on the
tiniest of details that typically remain
unnoticed, like chairs for museum-
goers and case work for exhibit pieces.
The site and film present a clear dichot-
omy between the new and old aspects
of the museum, giving this unconven-
tional piece a sense of familiarity.
"I am setting up a situation where
a group of sound artists can react to
the look and sound of the space at the
same time," Kannenberg said. "So I am
thinking of this as an improvisational
dialogue, with the sound and the visual
aspects of the space, which is filtered
or mediated through this situation that
I've set up - the video."
Kannenberg's interest in the rela-
tionship between sound and images
brought him into the world of "picture
scores," the concept that explores how
an image can affect sound, and vice
versa, when the two are juxtaposed. In
the past, his focus has been on single
images, but he has also been working
to develop a video that can be used as
moving "graphic score."
"(A) graphic score is like taking a
picture and turning it into sound," he
explained, but with multiple images.
There is no canvas needed.
In addition to the video, the exhibit
includes musicians spread throughout
each space, forcing spectators to actu-
ally interact with their surroundings.
"I am directing the gaze of these
musicians and sound artists who are
going to be forming (music)," he stated.
"From there they are going to be both
looking and listening to the space and
reacting to it in an autonomit way."

Though the sound created is
unknown until the show, Kannenberg
expects quieter music that will not
detract from the video or space. Rush,
Kannenberg's former professor, said
he plans to use an eclectic variety of
instruments like the wind instrument
ocarina - not the iPhone application -
and a sopranino trombone, also known
as a slide whistle.
"(I don't have) intentionality about
the performance, but (I) hope that it is
cohesive and provides a good environ-
ment," Rush said.
In 'Collections:
UMMA,' recorded
video meets
improvised sound.
Lisa Borgsdorf, the manager of
UMMA, feels that havingKannenberg's
piece at the museum is an obvious and
appropriate marriage. This symbiotic
relationship provides museum-goers
at UMMA a meta-viewpoint and a new
perspective on the familiar spaces.
"It will be an opportunity for audi-
ences to reflect on the space in a dif-
ferent way because they will be looking
at images of the space that they are in,"
Borgsdof said.
"John is looking at it with a differ-
ent eye, especially by focusing at the
very small details. And I think that will
heighten people's awareness of how
they are interacting with the space -
which is an interesting opportunity for

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