Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Saying it with video ... and music

Six years ago, a friend and associate asked me to produce a Christmas video of a different kind – a video, using footage shot in North America and Europe by her investigative group and others of the “farm to plate” experience of countless animals we rarely see in any other context than, say, a warm and fuzzy Christmas dinner. Hence the commissioned title – “Do They Know It's Christmas?” – and the timing: it was released on YouTube on December 21, 2007.

You can view it here.

Unfortunately, the version I had wanted to release was largely set to KD Lang's sublime cover of Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah,” but I was unable to get permission to use it on time. In fact, the permissions people at Sony wound up doddling so much, I concluded they simply couldn't be bothered. So a year later, I uploaded that original version – slightly tweaked – without permission.  So there! I also used excerpts from a couple other carefully chosen songs without even trying to get permission. I had gone rogue! The resulting video, “Hallelujah, Silent Night,” is embedded right here, below the next paragraph.

Both of these versions (and yet another which I set to Radiohead's aptly mournful “Exit Music [for a Film]”) challenged me to present gruesome and depressing scenes of abuse and unkindness in a way that evokes something beyond horror, rage and despair – or worse, emotional desensitization – but rather emotional identification and an empathic resolution to walk away forever from this inbred and perversely normative vice of enslaving and brutalizing our fellow animals. The lack of distracting narration and the tightly wound integration of image and music went some distance toward achieving my goal, I hope.

Hallelujah, Silent Night

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