Ever since Danger Mouse's The Grey Album hit the Internet, the mash-up has blown up in popular culture. From the Hood Internet's cleverly-titled electronic dance hall music to Dsico the No-Talent Hack's glitchy cut-ups, it's a genre that has become prevalent in hip music circles for its post-modern take on the canon of pop music.
In Brett Gaylor's film RiP: A Remix Manifesto, the mash-up is used as a greater symbol of the battle surrounding intellectual property rights. The film pulls double duty, as it's both an artist profile of Girl Talk (real name Greg Gillis) and a polemic devoted to the increasing need to modernize our copyright laws in the face of the Internet.
On the phone from Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest film festival, for the film's official launch, Gaylor explains the issues he raises in the film are perfectly suited to what's going on down in Austin right now.
"It's an interesting place to launch a film," he says. "The festival has three components-- interactive, film and music. Everyone's grappling with these issues right now. All three of these industries are in major, major transition."
While Gaylor's film has entered the film festival proper, his film is spiritually similar to the Interactive Festival as well. RiP is all about how new media technologies are changing the game and changing creativity for artists, while the interactive side of the festival focuses on new media technologies.
Gaylor suggests this is because of how digital technology seems to be exponentially growing while film and music stagnate, far outpacing the two stagnating industries.
"The interactive portion is up 30 per cent this year," says Gaylor. "The whole landscape is changing. Digital seems to be innovating much quicker than film or music. Everyone's thrashing around trying to figure out what's going on."
In the film, Gaylor attacks the music and film industries for being out-of-touch with the needs of a new web-oriented generation. He argues modern music and creativity don't seem to work within the traditional album-selling model. At SXSW, an industry festival with movie and film bigwigs from across North America, RiP played to a sold-out crowd with a very heated question and answer period after.
"You had people cheering for the film and some people who were denouncing the film," Gaylor says. "There were people arguing with one another. It was great to see that there was this heated debate."
For Gaylor, who is not only a director but also a web advocate, hearing these rambunctious Q&As translates to massive success. He feels that being able to generate discourse on such an important issue is vitally important because the documentary can only help spread his perspective.
"The point of the film is to get people talking," he explains. "A film like mine needs to transmit the beliefs and the intention of the director. The debate about how you deal with the issues raised in the film happens afterward."
Gaylor adds that while the film is available online on the NFB website, and you can remix it at opensourcecinema.org, it is also integral to watch the film in theatres.
"It's really important to get to the theatre because it's a film that needs to be watched on the big screen with your friends to really appreciate it," he says.