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Beanywood Interviews: Amy Grill, Director of “Speaking in Code”

April 23, 2009

Making its premiere tonight at the Somerville Theater is Speaking in Code, what may be the most in-depth expose on the techno music scene ever filmed.

Director Amy Grill, an Emerson graduate, and her husband David Day, entertainment editor of Boston’s Weekly Dig, and a techno VJ himself, spent three years crafting a film that consumed almost every aspect of their lives.

“It was almost non-stop,” says Grill. “We’d dream, eat and sleep to this music and everything about the scene.”

The inspiration to make Speaking in Code didn’t entirely derive from a desire to document the emergence of trance as a respected musical art form. “It was about finding out who these artists are,” says Grill. “And it their story that would take us and send us in the right direction.”

Grill also noticed there was “a glut of low production value” in the existing techno music documentaries. “They’re fine, but they didn’t go too far. And there’s a lot of depth in this music scene. A lot of fascinating, bizarre people. It’s deep.”

Having filmed hundreds of hours of footage, Grill and Day realized they were essentially “camera testing” the artists who would be featured in Speaking in Code. She says, “By doing that we knew we could find the characters We were able to find out which artist would open up and reveal themselves. Some did. Some didn’t. We went with the one’s who did.”

Being already immersed in the techno music scene, the filmmakers knew they had a terrific vantage point from which to give an audience an insider’s glimpse. “The scene is so much about socialization and connection,” says Grill. “There’s intimacy, honesty, and trust. These artists, all of them – Modeselektor, the Wighnomy Brothers, Ellen Allien, everyone – they had to trust us. They had to feel comfortable in order to reveal themselves so that we could learn from them.”

When the music starts, there’s a meaning. There’s something that each of the VJ’s are striving for. And there’s the hope that perhaps there’s one track that will transform an audience.

“We filmed hundreds of hours of material. You can’t use everything. Our goal was to take the track that best represented that particular show. So, in Speaking in Code, we captured that emotion and that power.  Feelings shift, moods changes, and so does the music. But it’s always the case that good music is good music.”

Speaking in Code premieres Thursday (4/23) at 7:00 pm at the Somerville Theater.

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