Music’s video stars in spotlight at Norwich festival

From Michael Jackson's Thriller, the music video has come a long way and now technology has put it into the reach of even the most humble local band. The Norwich-based BBC Music Video Festival aims to highlight some of the best. SIMON PARKIN reports.

Music videos have come a long way since Video Killed The Radio Star by Buggles became the first song ever played on MTV in 1981.

From multi-award winning extravaganzas like Sledgehammer — which saw Peter Gabriel lying still under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while plasticine modellers got to work — to simple but hugely effective videos like that for Johnny Cash's Hurt, it's an art form that has spawned a whole industry.

And where once the video was only possible for high profile acts whose record labels were willing to stump up the substantial budget required, the advent of cheap cameras, home editing technology and a ready outlet on the likes of YouTube mean it is now in the hands of any band.

Arguably the only barrier stopping any band from producing a memorable video — from established artists to the most humble local act — is there own imagination.

That's the message that will be heard loud and proud at this year's BBC Music Video Festival, which is organised in Norwich and aims to enthuse both artists and the general public. It is an opportunity for film-makers and musicians will get their work seen and heard by thousands of people.

The festival takes submissions from anyone in the world, so we'll be showing some fresh foreign talent alongside some of the breakthrough videos from the new artists and directors of 2012.

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But there will be plenty of local talent too and they will get some valuable national exposure too as selected videos will be shown on the BBC's Big Screens in 22 towns and cities all over the UK throughout September, October and November.

'Music video really has come into its own in last 15 years,' said organiser Sam Hill. 'Close to being a dying medium at one point, it's risen phoenix-like across the internet. For lots of us, YouTube and Vimeo have become crucial ways to listen to music, and marvellous opportunities to see some of the most creative, distinctive and talented filmmaking today.'

Ironically, where once videos looked to be dying out, now there are too many to know which are worth bothering to watch. 'It's difficult to watch them all and every blog will bombast you with the sheer quantity of quality,' admits Sam.

That's where BBC Music Video Festival, which runs from September 10-29, comes in. They've done the hard work for us — sorting through hundreds of submissions to bring us the best, the most innovative and most distinctive. 'We can't show you everything, but we can show you some of the year's best music videos from all over the world.'

Once again videos will be shown daily in panorama on the Fusion screen at the Forum — the largest HD screen in Europe at 60ft wide, making for spectacular viewing.

This really this the best place to watch videos from international talent like the Fleet Foxes and Cornershop to local bands like Crystal Bats and Olympians

As well as the screenings other events are being held in both Norwich and London, including this year a spin-off two-day mini-festival of music films, exhibitions and live performances.

'Also, this year we're showcasing the fan-films, documentaries, road trips and passion-driven movies that give us unique insights into individual scenes and different towns,' said Sam. 'We've got films about specific scenes in Bristol and Leeds and ones that uncover hidden underground movements. From dubstep to death metal, we're aiming to show the expanding relationship between film and music.'

What's On


Fusion, The Forum, Norwich, until September 8, 10am-5pm, free admission

A fascinating — not to mention nostalgic for music fans of a certain age — film and exhibition looking at 50 years of the Norfolk music scene. BBC Voices has scoured the archive of local musical talent for the film show. The bands of today have been influenced by those that went before and here you can see everything from fan-made footage to a series of specially made films about Norwich music venues such as the Orford Cellar, The Gala, the Lad's Club and the Jacquard, as well as films about Soundclash Records and Norfolk music legend Richard Hammerton. Meanwhile in the Forum there is an exhibition of related photos, posters and musical memorabilia of all types.


Fusion, The Forum, Norwich, September 10-29, 10am-5pm, free admission

Discover the very best unusual, exciting and intriguing videos from around the world on Europe's biggest HD screen with this daily showcase. It's a chance to see and hear the best new music and the film making talents from Fleet Foxes and Cornershop to local bands like Crystal Bats and Olympians. It's free, no booking necessary, just drop in. Who knows what treasure you'll catch?


The Curve, The Forum, Norwich, September 22-23, 10am-5pm, free admission

Music films are fast growing as cheap filmmaking and editing technology, together with numerous opportunities to share it with the public mean even the smallest bands are able to create full length films. Why stop at a video when you can create a whole film? Everyone, from fans to professionals, is telling the story of bands, artists tours and town scenes in a huge range of styles. Films to be featured in this two-day spin-off will include The Brooklyn Organ Synth Orchestra's version of Tubular Bells and there will be a world premier of Liam Roberts new film about the Norfolk Electro Scene.


Millennium Library, Norwich, September 10-23, normal library opening hours, free admission

A special photographic exhibition, being held in conjunction with Outline magazine, celebrating the Norfolk music scene. It is a chance to see some great photos from amateurs and professionals of local and national bands that have played their part in the area in the past year.