Four New Flaming Lips Documentaries – Previews – A Beautiful Fucking Experience, We Don’t Control The Controls, Year in the Life of Wayne’s Phone, Fearless Freaks 30

The Flaming Lips have several films nearing release – including A Beautiful Fucking Experience, whose director, Sage Seb, revealed the above trailer today.

First up is the world première of the Lips’ new avant garde documentary A Year in the Life of Wayne’s Phone on Wednesday, March 13th at Austin’s Alamo Ritz.  The 9:15 PM -10:35 PM showing, one of SXSW’s “Special Events” screenings, will be followed by a Q and A session.  The film compiles over 28 hours of footage shot by Wayne Coyne on his iPhone into the “world’s first vertical iPhone movie“….

So, how did 28 hours get squeezed into an 80 minute documentary?  Well, there’s actually 240 minutes of footage – the film plays three shots continuously for a chaotic effect of triple audio and video competing with itself.  And the clips are kept short.  Even 30 second videos you might have seen on twitter – like the 14-minutes-worth in the above video – have been trimmed to about 20 seconds each for the film.  And finally, some of the videos Wayne shot on his phone were left out of the documentary for time sake.

All through 2011, any movie I took we’ve taken off,” Wayne explained to Village Voice last summer.  “They all run in series, three videos playing at one time on three screens. Kind of like… well I forgot, but there’s movies that play like that, where its split the whole time. So there are three of them the whole time, and its just random poo poo. Whatever I was doing is there… We had to edit quite a bit of it… but I watched four hours of it and didn’t even blink—like, what the gently caress! Because I forget all the scenarios by which I made a 20-second little movie….its just so random, that’s what kept it interesting. There’s a lot of music, but there’s also a lot of other stuff.”

A Year In The Life Of Wayne's Phone, I just sent the final file to SXSW! It's playing somewhere down there on March 13th!

For example, the above promo poster shows a still from the spontaneous hula hoop contest Wayne hosted and tweeted about on May 15, 2011 at Nelsonville Music Fest.  The two other stills that surround it are clips of the band playing the fest (notice the lights – this was the weekend the band live debuted “Is David Bowie Dying?”).

UPDATE March 14th

Lips fans, especially, will love seeing Coyne with his famous friends (Yoko Ono, Ke$ha and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo among them),” notes Hollywood Reporter’s review of the première.  Based on these cameos (particularly Kesha), the film must include footage from both 2011 and 2012 – at least.  The review also mentions the “fanboy questions” that followed the premiere; “a prolonged segment involving a gelatin-stuffed skull” (suggesting the clips aren’t in exact order); and concluded: “the project is an exercise in concentration, a commentary on short attention spans, and, ultimately, a frustrating exercise in creativity“.

Three constant streams of different video playing simultaneously in a 16×9 format with their coinciding audio…is definitely visually and aurally challenging, which is why I’ve enjoyed working on this edit so much,” said Seth McCarroll from Delo Creative, The Flaming Lips-associated visual production house that edited the film.  Below are stills of the triptych effect in the film:

The film apparently started as a documentary on the making of the Lips’ collaborative double album from last year, Heady Fwends.  The below computer screenshot of the editing of Wayne’s phone videos was posted at on March 11, 2012 with the caption, “Man!!! Wayne shoots waaaay too much video on his iPhone! 9 hours+ of Heady Fwends footage coming yr way!”

A Year in the Life of Wayne’s Phone is one of four Flaming Lips movies set for 2013 release. The other three? A 30th anniversary update of Fearless Freaks, a documentary on the Lips’ Guinness World Records-setting “24 Hour Tour” last June and another doc on the making of their new album, The Terror.  The last of these – titled We Don’t Control The Controls – is also being edited by Seth and includes “hours of talking” about the making of the album, according to Wayne Coyne’s instagram.

“We Don’t Control The Controls” is the key line from the lyrics of “The Terror” title track – as well as the name of Dan Deacon’s remix of the entire album that will appear as side 4 on the double vinyl edition and as a bonus track on the iTunes deluxe version.

For me, when it comes to ‘The Terror’ the shocker line is: ‘We don’t control the controls,'” Wayne recently explained to New Music Express.  “The intense way that we love is not something that we have a say over. It’s a part of our subconscious life that probably comes from our parents or from whatever our bullshit DNA has made us. It’s like the reason you’re tall and have hair and the reason the other guy is short and doesn’t. We don’t decide, dude! Something in us gets to decide. When you’re young you can say: “My eyes were decided by my DNA but the music I listen to isn’t.” As you get older, it starts to seem like you don’t really know how much of anything you get to decide. That’s ‘The Terror’. ‘The Terror’ is that it appears everything is normal and alright but inside you is a fear that says: ‘I don’t know.’ That’s why this music is full of anxiety and feels stressful. It feels depressing but it’s kind of triumphant. You know something now, but the thing you know is disturbing.

Then there’s ‘A Beautiful Fucking Experience.  Its IMDB profile describes it as “a feature length documentary that celebrates music, in particular the live music experience, as told through the journey of The Flaming Lips on their Guinness world record breaking 24 hour tour through the Mississippi Delta.”  The 75 minute MTV doc is directed by Sage Seb.  Watch the trailer at the top of this page, and check out the “way cool Shepard Fairey posterWayne teased on instagram:

The Flaming Lips 24 hour tour consisted of eight concerts over one night and the following day in eight cities – from Memphis, Tennessee through Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and finally New Orleans.  The band were joined by “fwends” – including Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Neon Indian, New Fumes, Linear Downfall and HOTT MT – who played with the Lips as well as their own sets.  “Using Wayne Coyne as the lead narrator,” the trailer’s description reads, “the film captures perspectives from the musicians, the collaborators, the creators of the show, fellow artists, the fans which followed the entire 24 hour journey and the locals of the small towns to weave together a story full of heart, soul and love in relation to music. It took all of those people joining together to create “A Beautiful Fucking Experience.” This is their story. We want it to be your story as well.”

There’s a fifth film as well – Freak Night, a concert film of last Halloween’s Lips concert at the OKC Zoo – though that’s technically a 2012 film.  So far it’s streamed on ustream/theflaminglips last December 20th, but that’s it.  Fans are still waiting for a wider release, such as the DVD issue that was possibly hinted (depending how you read the implications of last year’s webstream’s promotion).  Watch the opening scene below:

So – besides the SXSW première of Wayne’s Phone – how can we see these films?

That is still unclear, though Wayne did reveal some plans to Village Voice last August:
I think we’re going to try and do a 24-hour movie theater experience… I think we’re going to try and do something like that, where there is The Fearless Freaks, there’s [A Year on Wayne’s Phone], and then there’s Christmas on Mars. You spend the night in the theater, and you wake up and we have breakfast. Just these events that are not… you know, you could see us at a concert, and yet there are still other things—its just fun to do things. It’s fun to try new things, to do different things. Even as a lot [of what we do] gets into the big rock stuff, we’re always working on something new.”

It is doubtful Wayne’s Phone will ever receive widespread distribution or be showed anywhere besides open-minded film festivals.  The other docs are more likely to be showed at a variety of venues…possibly including webstreams…

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