Interview with Will Weaver and Chris Damon [Bianca Wieck]



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00:00:01 - The Mission of Good Day RVA

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Partial Transcript: BW: Hi, this is Bianca Wieck, it is November 17th and I am interviewing Will Weaver and Chris Damon, members of Good Day RVA-

CD: Hello.

BW: - a local nonprofit in the Richmond music scene. So first, can you guys explain what Good Day RVA is?

CD: Good Day RVA is a collaborative effort, film collective of anywhere between 4 and 30 people, um, our focus is on the Richmond music scene, and we have a flagship series of live performance videos, where we film Richmond bands playing in live and unique locations around the city and state.

WW: And then we’ve also branched out and we’ve had a guest session-type series, where we’ve tried to actually work with touring musicians who maybe coming through Richmond. And that’s kind of been more recent addition to our original mission of just doing Richmond bands, so, we saw it as an opportunity to expand the audience, you know, if we get a few national-type artists coming through then people who might not otherwise seek out Richmond artists, they discover them through the national touring artists. So to date we’ve done three of the guest sessions…

CD: Yeah, yeah, well four with Tony Hazard when it comes out

WW: Yeah, so but the mission I would say just to follow up with what you said Chris is that we viewed Good Day as a collective from the very beginning so the driving force behind it is the volunteers who contribute their time, because none of us are doing this as a full-time job, even though we have lots of talented filmmakers in a group, Chris being one, he’s been working on Hollywood films in the area, but it really is a diverse mix of people, volunteers who contributed to the project.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon discuss their organization Good Day RVA- what its mission is, what they've accomplished, and who is part of the organization.

Keywords: Richmond; bands; mission; project; time; volunteers

Subjects: Good Day RVA; collaboration; mission; non-profit

00:02:53 - Relationship with the Richmond Community

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Partial Transcript: CD: We wish to be an archive of the Richmond music scene. And to the community as a whole. This also includes the filming we’ve done for other nonprofits and organizations, we’ve filmed for Art 180, and an organization that does performing statistics, we’ve filmed for Capital Regional Conservancy, we’ve filmed for University of Richmond, um, but anything that is using its own power to strengthen the Richmond community.

WW: Yeah, and just one last thing, one problem is that by us working with other nonprofits, I think that’s been a meaningful experience because with those other nonprofits, they might not have the budget or they may not have, they may be intimidated by working with a for-profit video production service. So it’s kind of. Mutual beneficial relationship, like when two nonprofit organizations have been working together, so that’s been, I think, a rewarding part of this is being able to work with groups that we really believe in their mission, like Capital Regional Conservancy, like being able to help them out. And it’s kind of grown our body of work overall.

BW: So you work not just with local artists but with nonprofits then? How broad would you say your network is?

CD: I suppose not under the Good Day name, we’ve got video work, well actually this might be a non-sequitur since it wasn’t under the Good Day name, we’ve filmed four organizations that are against the Pipeline being built. Basically we want to use our talent to take a stance for the environment and for the people and we kind of did that, well we certainly did that with that video, which took some stance, we filmed that at Yogaville and all the Super 8 that we shot told the story of where the pipeline was to be built and it was our effort to show exactly what would be effected with what Dominion is proposing or what they’re trying to push through currently. But it also, we did another video that we shot immediately after that, it was at an old bus depot and there were 150, 200 murals that were put up by national, international, local artists that, two days after we filmed it the keys changed hands and they were all painted over. So I think what we really try to do, what we do about this, is capture these places before they’re gone.

WW: Yeah, and going back to your original question as far as the network, we also have left a very open door to where this project can go, because as far as who we work with or the groups we work with, we’re keeping an open mind, I’d say. Like I mentioned working with nonprofits, working with nonprofits that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t work with a for-profit, but at least under the Good Day organization I would say we tend to do things, tend to work on projects that we are passionate about ourselves. I think we’re pretty selective about what projects we take on, and some of that too is just the necessity- we have a limited amount of time for this being like n addition to full-time jobs and everything, so really it has been from the very beginning and continues to be, the music part of it is the emphasis but those kind of side project things have been fun too.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon elaborate on Good Day RVA's relationship with the Richmond music community with regards to archiving history and working with other non-profits.

Keywords: Richmond; community; music scene; non-profit; organizations

Subjects: archive; community; music scene

00:07:55 - Founding of Good Day RVA, Inspiration, and Progression of Videos

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Partial Transcript: BW: Ok, so how was Good Day RVA founded? How did it come to be?

CD: We, shit, I mean really I know we initially got together as a big group of friends and we were all talking about, we have a large group of creative minds, and we got together to talk about hey, what are some interesting things we could get together and do. So Will and I and Evan and Matt recently had been showing each other these live music videos, specifically La Blonda Tech, which is out of Paris, they film videos like arcade fire in an elevator, stuffed in there, and drummers ripping pages out of a telephone book to create percussion, um, and we thought those were so interesting and we wanted to mimic something like that here.

WW: And those were all recorded live, and some people refer to them as a take-away show, just like, very raw kinda simple editing.

CD: Yeah they use just like a camera and a boom mic, that’s how they did it.

WW: Yeah that was certainly an inspiration-

CD: Yeah and there was the taxi cab show as well, in the back of a cab bands would play, and we kind of just inspired each other and we went to go see live music around town anyways, so it felt natural that we would reach out to some of the local bands to see if they would be interested, and it turns out that that interest was great.

WW: Yeah, and there was no one really doing what we were doing at the time, there wasn’t really, I mean as far as the quality of videos out there, typically you’d find very low quality at a concert, at a show that I think there was a need for something-

CD: And we all had an interest in film, we weren’t really filmmakers at the moment either. We had dabbled in filmmaking at that time, I’d done some independent little films as a PA for other organizations in town and I was kind of sick of waiting around for the callback. Will certainly had an interest in photography, as did Matt-

WW: Yeah, in my undergraduate experience at JMU I did mass communications, I was always interested in film and music and media, but I never really did that as a profession, so to me it was like here’s a way that I can balance my professional life with my passions and hobby-type stuff. So yeah it was very DIY from the beginning, we built a dolly, just like from watching the YouTube videos of how to build a dolly under 20 bucks kinda thing, which we ended up using a lot of that stuff for a long time-

CD: Until the steady cam.

WW: Yeah, yeah, so it’s been neat, at the very beginning it was like 3 or 4 of us doing everything, organizing the video shoots and setting up all the equipment and filming and editing, then cut to the last live video that we shot, and how many cameras-?

CD: I think like 10 cameras and a lot of our friends have told their friends, and they’ve come to bring very nice toys out, so, but in the beginning, Will and Evan and Matt and I all taught each other how, we strengthen each other to fill in gaps where we were, not lacking, but we were all interested. Will was good with editing and computers and I had no idea how to do any of that. I didn’t even have a camera, Evan and I were borrowing cameras for the longest time, and you were too for a little bit in the beginning. I knew camera work, I knew composition. Evan was the first to do a class in Super 8, which we’ve now incorporated into all of our live videos, you can see some right there, there’s rolls right there. But we all strengthen each other where we needed it to be, and turns out we make a pretty great team.

WW: Yeah, it’s interesting when you see, if you watch progression of the videos, we have, each video we keep we improving and learning and trying on things, but at the very beginning we didn’t really know what we were doing so it was like, it’s been a learning experience through each video.

CD: I know that in the beginning, none of us knew how to do sound properly, and we knew that the live sound was just as important as the live video when you’re capturing a band playing live. And I reached out to a friend who knew a guy who was interested who was gonna work basically for free, and he took an interest in it and brought his friend along, so we actually had two sound guys for the first videos, um, one of them who works for Vice now, one of them who works for the TV show “Survivor,” doing sound. But I think it’s a testament to just how goo our live audio guys are.

WW: Yeah, and that was a good call on your part, from the beginning, to be like, we can’t do all this and audio on top of it, so that was the one area where we needed a good audio person to record videos because they’re, you know, if you’ve seen some of the videos, they’re always in these different environments and it can e very challenging as far as like, capturing audio when, you know, the weather’s crappy and you really have to have the proper equipment for that. And, having a generator going and having the loud, um, that the audio is not interfering.

CD: And we’ve worked with probably six or seven different audio technicians, all of whom are extremely soft-spoken and intelligent, you know, they’ll come up to you and ask you some questions and you’ll give them the answer and you can see them computing in their head, ok, so they just go about and do their thing and it’s nothing that we have to worry about anymore because we know they can handle it. Sorry I’m talking in fragments here.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon describe how Good Day RVA was founded, some of their biggest inspirations with regards to video, audio, and film making, and how their videos have progressed over time.

Keywords: camera; founded; inspiration; recorded; videos

Subjects: film; inspiration; quality of video recording; videos

00:16:23 - Relationship with Artists

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Partial Transcript: BW: So, going now to the relationship with the artists, how do you choose the artists that you make videos with?

CD: It’s different for each one, I guess. In the beginning, I was friends with one of the guitar players from the first band we filmed. We had our list of bands in the beginning, maybe 10, 20 peeps that we knew we wanted to record, certainly not all of them we’ve recorded yet, and some of them are broken up, but we’ve seen them playing live and it’s as simple as that, that’s the band that we want to film. Certainly we’ve done our own research, Will would send us links of bands that we wanted to film, specifically White Laces, you were like, check this band out, turns out I knew one of the guys in it, so it was kind of an easy link as well to make happen.

WW: Yeah, most of it is the bands we’re passionate about, the bands we get excited about. But then again too, because it is this collective and on any given video we may have a different mix of people coming out. I mean, everyone coming out, may not know the artist, but a lot of it is just help, giving that band or artist exposure, because that was the thing- we wanted to offer these videos free to bands, so a lot of these newer bands they don’t have a big budget to spend on videos, so that was one of the things we thought could be a key part of the mission, make these free for the artists.

CD: And no doubt, right now, we’d want our video count to be over a hundred, you know, and time is a precious thing. And all of us work full-time jobs, a lot f us are very active outside work as well. We try to hone in our energy on this, but we could certainly, this is something we want to continue to do for a long time.

WW: We’ve been pretty consistent though, we’ve averaged about 4 videos of the live performance a year. But that doesn’t always fall neatly, it ends up averaging out to four, but

CD: Yeah, last summer we filmed 8 bands throughout 6 weeks, and we’re just kicking out the last of those right now, but we’ve also filmed a ton of stuff since then, so it’s just. Staggered release, um, and for the longest time we were pretty good at releasing in order of when we filmed them, and now it’s like, ok, when do these bands really need it?

WW: Sometimes we’ll try to align a release, like if a band is playing like a record release show, like we’ve done that with Hardy Wood a few times when they released an album and we’ve debuted the video as well, so sometimes it just works out that way. But I was just thinking too, we were talking about archiving places in the city that may be non-existent or have changed, so, capturing that is a neat archive for the city, but I’d also say that the music scene in general, because like, we’ve filmed bands that have come and gone now, they’ve formed different projects or whatever. But I think it’s kind of neat to capture that moment though in Richmond music history, like, ok there’s this band at this point, that’s kind of the nature of bands coming and going.

CD: And for the first year and a half, nobody really knew who our faces were. They knew that the project existed and they were excited about it, but we were definitely behind the scenes, we would kind of release and step back. And there was a buzz in the music scene about this mysterious group that was just creating videos for these bands for free and the quality just seemed to be growing. And I guess after the first festival, after enough of the music scene knew, finally got to see who we were face to face, in the beginning we would be reaching out to the bands, it was kind of like you pulled the plug and the bands started asking you if you’re available. And again, there are so many that we would love to do, I would love to be able to do this full time. Maybe one day, are you listening, city of Richmond? If you’d like to give us a 100000 dollars, we could make cool videos in your city. Give us money, thank you.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon describe how they work with artists, how they choose which artists to work with, and how they deal with an increasing demand for their music videos.

Keywords: album; archiving; artists; music scene; release; videos

Subjects: archive for the city; garnering support; relationship with artists; releasing albums

00:22:09 - Making a Profit and the Music Industry

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Partial Transcript: BW: Ok, so yeah, the music industry is a very corporate-driven industry. Obviously, it’s a lot about money. So then, how do you navigate the corporate side of things as a non-profit? How has it been as a non-profit in a very for-profit music industry?

CD: Um, I gotta tell ya, I went to ask a couple of production offices in Richmond, they can stay unnamed but I told them about who we were and we were trying to get money for the festival we were trying to put on a couple years back and a lot of them were like, so why should we give you money if this is something we are trying to make money on? You know, so I think there is some competition with companies in town who see us kind of as a threat, who are doing this out of our own time our own energy for free, when they’d be able to make a buck off of an artist. And while I went to arts school and certainly had those talks, a lot of teachers that said don’t do work for free, but I think you can do some work for free, and I think it’s necessary to build community relations. Especially if it’s just fun, and you get to hang out with your friends while doing it. So, screw the nay-sayers.

WW: Yeah, I think that sums it up pretty well, we wanted to keep this fun and I think there’s this fear, you hear it from people, if you do turn to a profit-driven model, then maybe it doesn’t become so fun anymore, because then you’re dealing with picky clients and it can, I don’t know, there’s a lot more pressure, your creative control can be lost, so I think that we just wanted to keep this pretty easy-going and I think that having that model as a non-profit that really helps with that, I think that that’s pretty central to what we’re doing. I don’t think we’ve encountered much, as far as running up against, as far as in the music industry in Richmond, I don’t know if we’ve run up against any direct, I mean aside from what you just mentioned, I think now honestly it’s like, when you think about the music industry and art, times have changed how artists release music and how they do music videos. I mean now it’s like, everyone’s got a pretty state-of-the-art camera in their back pocket. Artists are being more creative in how they release videos, it’s not as much anymore as, oh we need a record label to fund ten-thousand-dollar music videos, people are being much savvier and more creative, so I think that we’ve filled some of that niche as far as creating very high-quality music videos on a budget. I don’t know, maybe you can speak to It, I don’t see any of the bands we work with are doing high-budget type videos. I mean some are on a bigger type label but yeah, it’s an interesting discussion, how much do you give away as an artist for free? I don’t know, it is tough, because there are times when we could use that revenue stream, aside from, we will do the annual music festival that we put on-

CD: But I think we’d rather take our money instead of the bands from someone who’s willing to sponsor it, and that is a challenge itself, to go out into the community and ask people for money.

WW: Yeah, I would say that that has been the biggest challenge of this project, how do we raise that money, who do we approach… it’s tough, especially as a collective,, to make those decisions, and I think that’s inherently a challenge in any kind of collective, especially one that is a non-profit, yeah that’s one of our biggest on-going challenges.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon discuss how Good Day RVA navigates the for-profit world of the music industry and is able to create free music videos for artists.

Keywords: challenges; collective; fundraising; high-budget; label; money; profit

Subjects: competition with companies; for-profit; free; music videos

00:28:20 - Why Good Day RVA?

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Partial Transcript: BW: Ok, so I have one final question. So, personally, why have you given your time, your effort into this project?

CD: The love of music. And the love of the city. And the love of the people within the community. I personally have been here 16 years now, and I think I live here because of what this city can offer as far as those things. And I haven’t found a better place yet to live inside the United States other than Richmond.

WW: I would say a lot of the similar midst, as far as just loving music. I saw this as an opportunity to get more involved in the community, and get more immersed into the music scene specifically, because the first few years I lived in Richmond, I feel like I knew a little bit about the music scene in Richmond, but not to the extent that I do now, mainly through going out to shows and discovering new Richmond bands. It’s amazing the talent you find in your backyard. That’s why, it’s funny, you hear people talk about the poor quality in music these days, I always laugh at that, because most people are basing that on what they hear on mainstream radio or what they’re seeing on TV, but how many people are going and discovering artists in their backyard? I don’t know if we mentioned at Gallery 5 but we’ve done this annual festival every year for the last 5 years, and we’ve had like pretty much a whole new line-up each year of about 14 bands, so it’s this endless well of talent, and I think that is a testament of how vibrant and driving the music scene is in Richmond.

CD: It’s been a wild ride to realize that when you put your energy into something you’re passionate about, the world opens up to you. And it turns out that the world lives here.

WW: Yeah, I was just thinking again about this last video we shot, this artist Ben Shepard, which we’ll be editing soon, we had, we talked about earlier, all these talented filmmakers and volunteers come out and help, it was just inspiring to see. Some of these people, I think about Hugh specifically, Hugh is this guy, a professional cameraman, he works with like the NFL and does high production TV shows and he just is passionate about what we do. He loves Richmond music, so he comes out with his equipment, does it for free, just because it’s one of his passions. Even though he’s not getting paid, he does it, for the love of Richmond music, and so I think that is, shows you how something that starts very small, organically, it can be inspiring for people who want to get involved. So I think that we will continue to see that throughout the years. And even if we stepped back and disappeared, I think that the seed has been planted, it will continue in some form.

CD: And there are other, to give a little shout out to other organizations in Richmond who do good stuff too, like RVA Trek, they put theirs out on a pretty consistent basis. The guy who runs that, Scott Lane, is an old friend and a good guy. It’s just cool to see other groups stepping into make videos happen and elevate the music scene as well. Our friend Craig who has since moved to Texas was an all-star in capturing the music scene, I think he went out and saw 7 or 8 shows a week, and would film them and create videos and pictures for them. And he inspired other people to do the same. We enjoy our time, w don’t necessarily always go out with our cameras, but there are a lot of people who do, if not the same kind of project, they’re u there doing their own thing, and maybe they have been inspired by us. But we’re certainly not alone in our, it seems to be a lot more people who have come out to film what they’re also passionate about, which is the Richmond music scene.

BW: Ok, well thank you guys so much.

Segment Synopsis: Will Weaver and Chris Damon discuss why they spend so much time and energy on Good Day RVA, why they love the city of Richmond, and why other non-profits and volunteers are inspired as well.

Keywords: community; inspiration; love of music; non-profit

Subjects: Richmond's music; community; love of music; music scene