A strong hook. Short and to the point. Repetition offered as pleasure. These qualities have been associated equally with the supercut video, a product of contemporary digital culture, and the classic pop song, intrinsically linked with an older format: the 7-inch vinyl single. Records in American Independent Cinema: 1987 to 2018 brings the two formats together, inviting the supercut to complete its work within a three-minute pop song timeframe and populating the screen with multiple images of spinning vinyl. The supercut is the product of obsessive compilation and this, too, finds a parallel with the cultural identity of vinyl, to which the figure of the compulsive record collector is key. This figure appears in a number of the movies featured in the supercut, a recurring character type in American Independent Cinema from the mid-80s, the point at which vinyl ceased to be a commercially dominant music format, and continued affiliation with it became an identity-defining lifestyle choice. Driven by MJ McCarthy’s original indie score, Records in American Independent Cinema presents its vinyl-on-film moments in orderly fashion at first, but becomes ever more frantic as the run-out groove approaches…
Note on selection criteria: 'independence' in American cinema has been defined, variously, by criteria that are industrial, aesthetic or socio-political. I have taken a mixed approach, looking for films produced and distributed by companies outside of the major studios, or distributed by the specialty divisions of the majors. I've relaxed these criteria to include films widely discussed in terms of their 'independent spirit' even if associated with a major studio (e.g. Do the Right Thing is included, even though it was distributed theatrically by Universal). I've also included some major studio films that feature the 'indie' figure of the quirky vinyl obsessive (a wave that had a millennial peek with movies such as High Fidelity, Almost Famous and Ghost World).
Whilst I have looked for examples from across the time range covered by the video, the bias of subscription video streaming services to newer films means there are more examples from recent times. In any case, let me know what you think I've missed!
This supercut will appear on the Indy Vinyl project website later in the year, alongside lots of other, more analytical, video essays on record-playing moments in US indie cinema.