Filmmaker Craig Rian found a lot of “great music” shooting Nothing.
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“It took five years for me to finish this up after we shot the first show,” said Craig Rian, director of the local independent film There Is Nothing Out Here, which premieres Thursday, November 7, at the Whistle Stop in South Park.
The project, which this reporter had the privilege of providing commentary on, began in 2008 and wrapped filming in 2011. Twenty bands are featured in performance and interview clips, including Transfer, Silent Comedy, the Soft Pack, and Lady Dottie & the Diamonds. “It took a little over two years to film the bands,” Rian tells the Reader. “That was expected, because I wanted to film each band a couple times and get a wide swath of rock music styles and varieties of bands.” The project took two years to edit and a year to complete the DVD packaging. “Besides the filming, all the rest took way longer than it should have because I worked somewhere else full-time that had nothing to do with video or music. Since I paid everyone and bought my own gear, I had to keep the income flowing....”
The initial inspiration for this film was Rian’s love of live-music documentaries, such as U2’s Rattle & Hum and the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, but he says that his vision for the film evolved as he worked on it. “Originally, I wanted to video and follow just one band,” he recalled. “However, on my search for a standout, I found so many great bands and musicians here in San Diego that I couldn’t decide on just one.”
While he was able to get most of the performers he wanted, he wasn’t able to get all the music he hoped for.
“There were some studio versions of songs that I liked a lot, but the bands didn’t play them,” he said. Rian estimates he shot over 400 songs for the DVD, with much unused interview footage in the vaults as well.
Rian acknowledges that the film’s title could be misconstrued as “negative” rather than his intended “ironic.”
“I had three titles that I was considering and, surprisingly, that was the one that had the most positive response,” he said. “It comes from a public art piece that I went out to shoot, by local artist Nina Karavasiles, that reads, ‘This is the desert. There is nothing out here. Nothing.’ At the time I went out there, not only was I in the middle of shooting great music in San Diego, but I was also shooting all kinds of scenic shots from all over San Diego. So, I think it was kind of ironic that, true, standing in the desert where I was there was nothing out there, but I was in the middle of experiencing, musically and visually, San Diego.