Late last year, Bret Hoy and Sam Geneser set out to cast a lens on Midwestern punk. The duo had few preconceptions, and they found themselves welcomed into an open, diverse community. An initial interview with St. Louis's own Mark Sarich, the curator of the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, opened the pair to the inner workings of the DIY music sub-culture.
Following an IndieGoGo campaign and more than six months of filming, Hoy and Geneser now attempt to cast light on this movement through their film Dither: The DIY Sound. Hoy and Geneser hope to encapsulate the view from the bottom. Dither looks at artists who book their own tours and shows while self-releasing records with little to no outside help.
Hoy and Geneser eventually met with Ian Mackaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat, Dischord Records) for answers and inspiration. As Mackaye is often cited as a model-citizen of sorts for punk rock self-awareness, he provides heavy context to the film. Mackaye and other artists, such as Jacob Bannon (Converge), were tapped for their precious insight.
Based out of Springfield, Missouri, Bret Hoy (co-editor, cinematographer) sits firmly between major cities, providing knowledge on this intersecting and varied web of working artists. Hoy met with us to discuss Dither and to share his unique perspective on a vast but underlying sub-culture in American media.
RFT Music: Your documentary started as a film simply about "music." If you can recall, what were your initial impressions of the music scene as seen on the ground level?
Bret Hoy: When we first started going to shows during the early production of the film, the first thing that really surprised us was how accommodating and outgoing everyone was. We never felt out of place.
With music as your focus, what initial goals did you have for the film?
It's funny because when we first started working on Dither, we really had no idea what we were doing and we didn't know exactly what we wanted the documentary to be about. I'd say our primary goal at the very beginning of production was to make a documentary about Midwest punk music. It was an ambiguous goal, but that's really what it was. When we dug in and started getting our main interviews, something much more important and meaningful developed.
According to your IndieGoGo video, an interview featuring St. Louis native Mark Sarich sparked your interest in the DIY culture. How did his perspective lend to the overall goals of Dither?
As I said, our primary goal was to make a documentary about punk music and the DIY ethic, but we weren't sure of the route that we wanted to take with it. When we talked to Mark Sarich, we had an interesting and mind-opening dialog as to what the DIY ethic was to someone that has lived it for twenty-plus years. Our goals changed from just making a punk documentary to making a documentary about maintaining a life that's not corrupted by money and that's separate from the mainstream.
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