Hate City is new documentary about the various music scenes within Atlanta. It’s directed by Bob Place and since viewing the initial trailer, I’ve been very intrigued as to how this film will turn out. There was a lot of hype surrounding the dismal release We Fun, however many Atlanta locals argued that the film did not connect with the core values and ethos of Atlanta’s music scene.
In the following reprint from The Moon and Pluto, Moon and Pluto writer Nadia Lelutiu asks director Bob Place the hard-hitting questions about his new documentary.
“The film is not a movie highlighting different bands. It’s about the people in the music community in Atlanta, talking about the community and talking about how they’re affected by this post-apocalyptic state of the music industry,” – Bob Place
“The internet changed the world. We are at the point that DIY is the best that it’s been and the best that it could be, because it’s so accessible, but because of that, it’s also a bad thing, because the market is flooded, and that’s what we go into in the film,” says Place. He also emphasizes what the film is NOT, “What I didn’t want to do is make a film where everyone is sucking each others dicks. It is about people involved in the community, not a self-indulgent 60 minute blow job.”
The film doesn’t only depict the perspective of bands, but various players in the music industry, including hip hop artists, music attorneys, independent and major record label owners, and radio DJs, with the intent to show, “every perspective of what is going on, but it’s all from the perspective of Atlanta.” Place describes the film as broken up into three segments, first establishing the music situation, then characterizing what’s happening in Atlanta and what makes the city special, and finally highlighting certain Atlanta musicians and industry folk that share their perspective on it all and reveal how they function within the current climate of the music industry.
Place is not only a filmmaker. He’s a comedian, deeply involved in the Atlanta comedy scene, as well as a musician in Atlanta. Throughout his experiences playing with his band, Swank Sinatra, over the past 7 years, Place had heard Atlanta referred to, time and again, as “Hate City” and found it an appropriate title for his documentary. “Hate City is Atlanta. Atlanta became such a popular town, as far as music. It became a destination for labels and artists, because of hip hop. When you get down to the microlevel, there’s so much going on. With the rock-n-roll scene, meaning anything that’s not hip hop, there’s a little more rivalry, and I learned that more while making the film.”
Place is adamant about the film keeping away from what’s “hip”, explaining, “I wasn’t trying to be hip about it. I don’t think I’m hip. Shitty bands do really well in Atlanta, and I think it’s because that group of people think it’s cool to be shitty…I don’t know exactly [why shitty bands do well]. I wasn’t trying to be hip or cool with the film. I was just being me and felt like an outsider of the scene. Not that there is a scene; there are a couple of little cliques. The film goes into that; it’s a music town, but it’s a segregated music town, with cliques of bands doing their thing and I wasn’t trying to cater to anybody. I was just trying to tell it like it is. There’s a lot of pretentiousness in the community, and with the particular thing that I do, we don’t give a shit about all that.”
It was a relief to hear that the film wasn’t trying to boast a certain group of bands or create the facade that there is an overriding music genre represented in Atlanta. Place also acknowledges that this film is not some “inside joke” that only Atlanta will get. He expresses the homogeneity of content in the film, saying, “I don’t think the only people that will enjoy it are the people in Atlanta for novelty reasons. It’s about Atlanta, but if you’re a musician, no matter where you are, it will be an interesting, informative film. It talks about the reality of where we’re at and what we should do, if you’re a musician. It’s the Atlanta perspective of that, but Atlanta’s a hot town! The audience is anyone that’s interested in being a musician.”
The storyline of Hate City was shot with 8mm film, to give the documentary a true gritty and dirty aesthetic. The interviews were handled with a standard definition camera, and once the interviews were cut, Place placed the interviews between these surreal, grimy storylines, and included hand drawn animations to create an artistic rendition of the interview content. Hate City took about a year to complete with the help of producers, Michael Albanese and Harvey Leake. After the premiere showing in Austin, TX at SXSW, the film will be screened in Atlanta, though there are no details on this yet. We’ll keep you posted.