Today, Americans in over 100 cities protest for economic justice and workers/human rights with a ‘General Strike’. While this is happening, a young filmmaker named Romas Zabarauskas, living in New York, is trying to film a movie about the Lithuanian beat scene and corrupt governments entitled “We Will Riot”. Feels like a fitting day for Disco Droppings to profile Romas and share his ideas. Check out my interview with this progressive talent below. If his vision connects with you, head to the project’s Kickstarter where you can view a short video by Romas, learn more about the story line and most importantly, donate to the project. By Friday, May 4th at 6:05PM, this project must raise 10k, otherwise Romas will not receive any of the money pledged to support his film. Currently the project has just under 6k pledged.
DD Hello Romas, how is the hustle going for “We Will Riot”?
RZ It’s going well! I came to New York last August for an exchange year of film studies at Hunter College, knowing that I want to start shooting my debut feature while I’m here. I had a pretty concise idea for a story about a hip New York DJ who goes to Lithuania in order to experience something real for the first time… and ends up causing a riot. I’ve met plenty of people whose feedback helped to finish the script, including John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus, Rabbit Hole), but little by little I realized that because of the film’s subject it’s gonna be tough to find a bigger producer even with all the support I had from him, Gus Van Sant, Berlinale and others. So I decided to fundraise for the first part of the shoot and start making the film on my own. After I shoot the New York part, I’ll come back to Lithuania, where I’ve just established my own public enterprise, and try to finance and shoot the rest.
DD What makes the Lithuanian beat scene special? Who are some of the artists featured in this new film?
RZ A few things are special in the Lithuanian beat scene: first of all, these kids are super young but they’re reaching out all the world because of new, cheap technologies. Second, many of them have classical music education and are experimenting with beats from a very musical perspective. Also, I think the Lithuanian context is exceptional in a way that the beat music is really “hip” – all the beautiful and edgy boys and girls listen to that in Vilnius.
The beatmaking scene in Lithuania little by little has drawn the attention of such “tastemakers” as Mary Anne Hobbs and Radiohead..But these musicians haven’t yet been discovered by a wider audience, and I’m hoping to increase their exposure through my film.
Also I’ve to say I’m not that knowledgeable in music myself – but I work with the experts and made my research. British music promoter and internet entrepreneur, Stableface.com owner Mark Splinter works as a music supervisor for We Will Riot, and we’re also collaborating with one of the beat/bass community leaders Vaiper Despotin. I can’t name the artists yet but for sure we’ll aim for all the best ones – and most of them are already excited and supportive.
DD How has the process to raise money for thus film challenged you?
RZ It’s extremely difficult to raise money on Kickstarter.com – I didn’t expect it would be so difficult. It’s definitely a tiring full time job. But at the same time it’s extremely rewarding to see that people are so supportive and excited about my film. It inspires me and makes me want to deliver the best I possibly can.
DD How do you feel this film, if it goes into filming, will impact the political atmosphere and underground music community?
RZ I hope it would bring more attention to the beatmakers – the attention that they deserve. For the political atmosphere – my aim isn’t to invite everyone to riot, but rather to discuss how can we authentically protest against the system that most of us are involved in one way or another – the use of Gmail being one example. I also wish to shake “hipster” apolitical views so common to the young people everywhere in the world. We need to be political – no one else will change the world for us.
DD Last words? Cheers to you for such a progressive, right on the pulse idea.
RZ Thanks! Happy May Day! Go to the streets!
– Jimi Jaxon