The 2023 SLO Film Festival is taking audiences back to the ‘80s era of music videos with its “SLOMTV: Music Video Showcase” on April 26 at the Fremont Theater, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The night will feature music videos from directors and musicians around the world as well as live musical performances by Caleb Nichols, Connect the Coast, The Honeyboys and Peaking Lights.
Skye McLennan, the executive director of the festival, said she sees the showcase as an instrumental part of the festival. SLO Film Fest decided to dedicate a night to music three years ago because directors submitted music videos every year, but there was not a specific category dedicated to them.
After four years of working for the festival, McLennan said she is especially looking forward to this year’s showcase because it will feature a new projector and a wide variety of music genres, such as country, rock and electronic.
“It’s going to be a great night celebrating the Central Coast and live music,” she said.
McLennan encourages the San Luis Obispo community to see the power of music for themselves on Wednesday.
“The caliber and quality of what we’ve got to offer are really neat, and it’s in your backyard to come to check it out,” she said.
Director and long-time macro photographer Shawn Knol submitted his film, “Circle 12,” to the festival, which he called “a fun visual feast for the eyes.” The film is a collaboration with Berlin-based ambient music artist Robot Koch.
Knol said it took him seven years to create the compilation of polarized light visuals that make up the film.
“I just like to show people what I was seeing through my camera, and the only way to do that was with video,” he said. “It was just a way for me to show other people what I’m all about.”
Knol said he looks forward to celebrating his first film festival entry and his 40th birthday in San Luis Obispo. He believes that people should come to the festival to get inspired by the different entries.
“[Come to the festival] to be blown away by seeing the people around you, what they create, because there’s not really another way that you can be exposed to it in that way,” Knol said.
Jonathan Bareford also utilized the SLO Film Fest to push himself into the film industry after submitting his music video, “Clear,” which aims to show the importance of helping the environment and appreciating the beauty in nature.
“I really wanted to take the cause of environmental preservation and tell it sort of like an action-packed way in one of the most desolate, stunning locations I could find, and that ended up being Iceland,” Bareford said.
Over the course of three years, Bareford worked on “Clear” under JONO, his music project, and filmed in Iceland, reshooting clips that were ruined by extreme weather in Alaska and Boston.
Bareford and his team were especially proud of their end result, leading them to submit it to the festival.
Bareford said he hopes that people attend the music video showcase and leave feeling creatively inspired.
“For anyone that is interested in music videos but wants to see all of it in one place around a bunch of other passionate people for it,” he said. “I think this is the perfect place for that.”
Singer-songwriter Andrea Diaz, who creates music under the name Dia Luna, is another one of the creative minds being showcased at the festival. “Wilderness” — created by herself, the video’s Director of Photography Dani Gros and Assistant Director Charlie LaRose — shows the self-reflection that occurs after ending a relationship and the animal inside of all humans.
Their emphasis on animals was born from Diaz’s love for the earth.
“Nature is extremely important to me, and I think that as an artist it is something that I want to promote because I feel like we need to honor and protect the natural world as much as possible,” Diaz said.
Diaz said her ultimate goal for the video is to tell the story like a fairytale and provide both sides of the human experience.
“There’s beauty but then there’s also terror, and you can’t really separate the two, and that’s what makes being a person interesting,” she said.
Diaz also recently released a collaborative EP with her friend, Nate Mars, and she has singles that will be released soon. She said the film festival is one way for her to grow as an artist and show the community the power of visual storytelling.