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Beats. The Documentary.

by toddkelley on May 10, 2012

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I don’t like to focus too much on regrets. Everyone does the best with what they have and in the process, some of the things we’ve wanted to do over our lifetime get tossed aside. When I went to college and failed miserably at Aerospace Engineering, I had to stop and refocus on what I would do with my life. I took a a few weeks and figured out my future. I asked myself– ‘with all things being equal, what would be my dream job?’. Taking a few weeks was lazy. I already knew the answer from the start. I wanted to either make music, or make movies.

So I switched my Major from Aerospace Engineering to Radio, Television & Film. Suddenly, college wasn’t this hard thing that I needed to get through. It became this awesome thing where I spent most of my week doing incredible things in media. I suddenly went from getting D’s on Advanced Calculus midterms, to excelling at Scriptwriting and Audio/Video Editing. When I got out of college I told myself I was going to one day, make a film. period.

Why did I chose movies over music? Real simple. Out of the two, music was the one thing I HAD to do without compromise. From the first moment I heard Run DMC’s “Hollis Crew”, Hip-Hop became my culture. It wasn’t enough to just listen to rap music. I needed to live it. I needed to discover it an all it’s aspects.  MCingDJingB-boying and graffiti writing. I knew I couldn’t dance, and my spray-painting skills were sub-par at best, so the music aspect became my life. Writing rhymes felt great. I was already into writing short stories, the transitioning to another process where I could play with words was great for an introverted kid my me.

But then.. I discovered the 5th unsung aspect of Hip-Hop– Beatmaking.

From the first day I almost blew up my mother’s stereo by hooking a dual tape deck to record player and started making pause-mix loops, I was hooked. I still loved MCing and DJing, but there was something about constructing beats from sound samples that became my obsession. I started making beats when I was 9 years old. I’m still doing it today. Of course, the technology’s different; I’ve traded my mother’s stereo in for a MacBook Pro running Logic Pro, and my sister’s massive vinyl collection is now a massive mp3 collection on my laptop– but the passion remains the same. It’s the one thing that’s so integrated in my life, that stopping it for a significant amount time would send me into a type of creative withdrawal.

A lot of friends never seemed to understand why I didn’t try to make music a career. Music is so much a part of me, I never wanted there to be a situation where I’d have to compromise the creative process in any way. When something you love becomes a primary part of your income, you need to make compromises to maximize your return. If you’re creating music to be sold, which you need to support yourself and family, then the endgame focuses more on what others want, and not you. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what I wanted to sacrifice.

So, I wanted to make a movie. Just one movie in my lifetime. Not a blockbuster, or an Oscar Nominated masterpiece. Just some type of 90 minute feature that I image, shoot, edit and push out into the ether. But over the years, life has gotten in the way. Money became important early on, then I got married and had to think of someone either than myself. Slowly, the need to make a movie kinda faded away.

At this point in my life, I’ve been re-evaluating my wants and needs. There has always been a monetary and technological speed bump to creating media in the past. These days, those speed bumps have been slowly worn down and now it seems possible that opportunity is just waiting for anyone with a great idea to get out there and be creative.

So I’ve been thinking about revisiting this ‘moviemaking‘ idea. Mr. Whitmore, my scriptwriting and editing instructor use to tell me the same thing over and over: “Find something you love and then tell the world about it.”

What do I love? Making beats!

So I think I want to tell the world about it.

My idea is to make a documentary, tentatively entitled: Beats. A Documentary.

Granted, there are a ton of Hip-Hop / Producer documentary that feature cats like Premo, 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, etc. But that’s not the world I live in. I don’t want to talk about the famed producers that everyone knows. I want to dive into the beatsmith subculture that exists online. Sites like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and (in still to a lesser degree) MySpace have been the home of eager music producers who not only are trying to get their music out there, but showcase their talents just for the love of the art. There are cats i respect big time that i’d love to get on camera and educate the masses of this incredible microcosm of beat makers who exist and showcase their passions and aspirations.

That would be dope. Let’s see if I can make it happen.