The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience's Kevin Kerslake on the film process and more

If you've been to the Electric Daisy Carnival here in Denver -- which is a relatively small kid brother to the massives that take place annually in Las Vegas or Los Angeles -- then you probably kind of know what to expect from The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience. Director Kevin Kerslake compressed eight hours of partying into a film that runs just a little under two hours; we talked to him about the challenges of filming such a huge event and, yes, the riots in L.A. surrounding the film's Hollywood premiere.

Westword: We know you've been involved with music videos and other music-related filmmaking; how was this project different from what you've done in the past?

Kevin Kerslake: I think it's different in terms of scale, because there are so many artists and throughout several genres, all basically coming into a single film, whereas if I was doing a film on Nirvana or the Ramones or Soundgarden or whomever, it was always the same sound. But this was interesting, to create this tapestry where different genres sit with others, or going into and out of stories with more regularity than some of the other films had. I think it's all in terms of layers, and the fabric of the film just had a little more texture than some of the others.

Were you able to capture a cohesiveness despite the different genres of electronic music?

I think that there is a certain continuity when you go to events like this, even though you're experiencing different artists, different types of music, different art installations whether they're interactive and immersive, and the different people you encounter along the way. But all in all, the mood is pretty buoyant, and it really is just about keeping your foot on the gas, for the most part, and making sure that there's a gentle spirit that courses through the whole film.

What was the inspiration to put this film together?

I've been working with Pasquale Rotella (the brains behind EDC) since 2000, and the very first party that we did, we put our heads together in terms of -- you're obviously in a cinematic environment, and a lot of the things that are going on have cinematic quality, so at that point, it's just getting a little deeper into the personal aspect, whether that's stories or history and how all those things factor in. It is such a visual spectacle, and to meet that, as an audience member, you have an appetite to get deeper than just eye candy. It's a pretty logical evolution when you go to these events, if you are visually inclined, to consider a movie about it, however long, whether it's a short or feature-length, that it would be something that would be really fun to make and really fun to see.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Probably the biggest challenge was scale. The Electric Daisy Carnival is so big and so sprawling, big in terms of real estate and sheer acreage, and then sprawling in terms of everywhere you look, 360 degrees, there's something going on, and some of it's planned, some of it's spontaneous, and you've also got all the artists on the five stages. That's a lot of stuff you have to cover, as a filmmaker it's my responsibility, but with that much to see, it just means you need a lot of people to capture it on film. It all translates into scale, and how many people you can reasonably hire to be on your team, and then also how to keep the quality top-shelf. We had 700 hours of footage. It's a two-day event, now it's a three-day event. We had 54 cameras, including all the toys, cranes and helicopters and the specialty items. And it still feels like you missed stuff.

Will some of that extra footage be on the DVD?

The DVD comes out November 9, so we'll have special features, which include some of that footage that might not have made it in the cut, longer interviews, some more of the history and artist profiles, things like that, that for one reason or another didn't all make it into the movie.

What was the best part about working on this film?

It was pretty distinct, I think, from some of the other long-form projects that I've done because it kept being funny and fun to work on, and I think that with some of the other projects, it's like a marathon, and so some of the humor starts to subside, whether you're in the room or even stuff you're seeing on the screen. That was the one thing that was enjoyable, it was always a laugh -- and also it helps that every day that you're working on this you're hearing killer music, so that makes your job easy.

What did the artists think?

I actually secured all the artists' approvals before we moved forward. All of the artists, that's just out of respect and probably even, I felt like I was obliged to do it. And all the artists love it. They were happy; we didn't have to do any changes.

Can you talk about the riots that broke out at the Hollywood premiere?

The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience was slated to be in nearly 600 theaters nationwide on August 4, however, we encountered certain, ahem, difficulties with many of those theaters after our rather festive premiere on Hollywood Boulevard. The riot squad crashed our party! We lost almost 90 percent of our screens, because of an overreaction on the part of the theater chains, who were suddenly afraid the movie would be a bit too popular. Undaunted, we are bringing it back to the cities that were cancelled.

That includes a screening at 9 p.m. tonight at the Landmark Mayan; call 303-744-6799.

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen