Hipsters weren't the first to sing and dance in a spontaneously choreographed group for a musical, and probably will never feel compelled to in this world, but in the movie world they have now given into this urge in Hipster! The Musical. The musical didn't immediately take form as a feature film, but it eventually transformed from the tight fitting jeans of a short film to a feature length.
See also: - Boulder's five biggest hipster bars - Denver's ten hippest bars, or ten biggest hipster bars. Hipsters. - Comedian Chris Hardwick on hipsters, sobriety and the true meaning of being a nerd
The story follows the main character Dave -- a shy, good-natured fellow who can't bring himself to confess the love he has for his best friend, Lily. When she dons a feather in her hair and joins a group of hipsters, Dave must embrace his inner irony to try one last time to captivate the girl he loves.
Without delay Dave comes at odds with the maniacally-sarcastic Salinger and his hipster henchmen, and also with Lily's lust for all things hipster. But, most of all, Dave is at odds with himself, and only through song and dance will he muster the courage it takes for a happy ending.
I recently sat down with writer, director and producer Adam Blair (a fellow CU Denver student and musical enthusiast) for a chat about how he envisioned Hipster through thick dark-rimmed glasses and how it came to fruition.
Westword: What made you decide to combine the two worlds of hipsters and musicals that don't normally go together?
Adam Blair: I was at the gym in the fall of 2011. I was listening to The Producers soundtrack on my headphones when I saw the most ironic person I'd ever seen. She was smoking a rolled cigarette, on a fixed gear bike, with a yoga mat under her arm. That visual combined with the music in my head, and the fact that I was looking for a project to invest in, formed the perfect storm for Hipster! The Musical. I was influenced a lot by Book of Mormon, which was becoming popular at the time, too. That brand of satirical, self-aware, musical drive.
In the process of making this film, was it always your intention to make Hipster a feature?
The film began as a twelve-page short film. That draft was completed in December, 2011. But the more that my composer/co-songwriter Sam Golden and I brainstormed and wrote, the more we realized that there was a gold mine of material that would go to waste if the film were only twelve minutes long. So we made it longer and longer and kept adding tunes and plot points. When we reached 45 minutes, my producer Rob Shearer urged me to bite the bullet and make it a feature -- films are on a sort of dead man's zone when they're between 45 minutes and an hour, since they aren't really a short or a feature. So we lengthened it out, and, about 29 drafts later, had a working feature script and soundtrack.
Did you cast this film? Are they primarily CU Denver students in Hipster?
We held auditions at an open casting call and also tapped some local talent agencies. Our talent ranges from DSA to CU Denver alums to DU and Metro students. We've got high school students to college graduates represented here -- and even a few pre-schoolers!
Was there a lot of improvisation on set? How closely did you stick to the script?
I like to let the actors explore and play with the script on set for sure. Zach Davidson, who plays the hipster Thelonious, was a riot. He had one-liner after one-liner he'd keep throwing out to start off many of the scenes. We even ended up recording some "Thelonious Action Figure Catchphrases" that I hope to release online soon. We had to really nail the musical sequences since those were scored to music. The actors really owned their roles and explored during the more dialogue-heavy scenes.
Were there specific filmmakers or films that helped to inspire you thematically or visually with Hipster?
Like I said, Book of Mormon was a big inspiration. I also kept going back to Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog as a model for a low budget, story-driven, cinematic musical. What Joss Whedon is able to do in that series is really amazing.
Your title, Hipster! The Musical, implies humor. Can viewers expect to find humor in your film?
Yes! There is humor, hipster mocking, and even some tugs at the heart strings, if I did my job right.
Did you learn anything making this film, or are you already a movie making genius?
I learned so, so much when making this film. I learned that I should have lots and lots more planning. I learned how to better work with actors. But, above all, I learned that a director is only as good as their team. I was very lucky to have such a devoted, passionate and talented group of artists and craftspeople working on this film. It isn't my film -- it's all of ours.
What types of audiences do you hope to reach with Hipster? What do you want people to come out of the film thinking about and feeling?
It is certainly geared towards the high school/college crowd, but I think that its songs and the core of its story are universal. As far as what people can expect to leave the film with, I can't say. That's up to them. But I'd love to know what it is!
What types of projects would you like to be working on five or ten years from now?
I am going to focus on writing for a while. I don't want to rush into another project -- I'll write some shorts and make them really good, then consider actually filming them. But five years? Ten? I generally don't plan ahead quite so far out.
Do you hope to screen this at more places than just your initial screening?
We are planning to shop the film around to various film festivals, both local and international. Once we get as many eyes as we can to see it on the big screen, I'm planning to put it online for the world to see. I have also been playing with the idea of translating it into a high school musical theater kit--I'd love to see how a high school company handles the songs and story. I think it'd translate well.
Are you still looking to fill seats at this premiere at June 13th at Harkins Theatre?
We are at capacity for this screening, but may be holding future Denver screenings. Go to hipsterthemusical.com to find out more!