The film/production company MDMAfilms (founded November 16th by Tao Lin and Megan Boyle to release “extreme mumblecore”/”drugcore”/”emo” films and documentaries) had its premier and first public Q&A this past Sunday, November 21st, at Temporary Storage in Bushwick. Billed as the closing performance of the art exhibition “After We Met,” curated by Claudia Eve Beauchesne, the event was attended by a few dozen well-dressed young people. Notably, many were Asian. Intermittently grinning at someone else’s blank stare or staring blankly at someone else’s intermittent grin, people stood in an estimated 40′ x 25′ space, conversing in a vaguely energetic fashion.
Around 7:55PM the crowd was asked from an indeterminate source to sit, if they wanted to. Then a short film where Lin and Boyle focused discussion toward shrimp and “ground beef” matters, mostly, at “Caked Up!,” a charity event where 30 artists were asked to design cakes, which were then laid out on an enormous table for people to eat at their discretion, a few weeks ago in Chelsea, was projected from a Laptop onto a wall. The film (apparently from the “event coverage” arm of MDMAfilms) garnered sporadic laughter and sustained grins and resembled something you might see on Conan O’Brien, except it was all filmed and edited with a MacBook and iMovie, and had R-rated content (there was a slightly baffling Charlie Sheen nonsequitur, likely in reference to this).
Then another “event coverage” short film, where Lin and Boyle apparently asked Louisiana residents in Baton Rouge (why the fuck they were in Baton Rouge was not addressed), at what seems like a Flea Market, about their plans regarding the first installment of Harry Potter 7, was shown for around 10 seconds before the video stalled. After around 20 seconds of apparent helplessness by the 30+ people in the room, whom combined probably owned over 50 MacBooks, the Louisiana short film was abandoned, and the trailer for “MDMA,” the duo’s first feature film, was shown.
Then Lin and Boyle moved to the front, sat in chairs, and looked out at the audience: about 20 people sitting in groups of 4 to 6, about 10 people milling about or standing in place (not all of them facing Lin and Boyle). There was a feeling of either muddled awkwardness or subtle zaniness in the triangulation of (1) the eager poise of Lin, leaned forward grinning (2) the tentatively laid-back manner of Boyle, staring out through iconic “hipster glasses” (3) the idly attentive to daringly inattentive (daring toward what? no one knows) manner of the audience, either hungry (snacks were not provided) or confused or distractedly attempting to frame what had happened within information previously garnered from their various graduate degrees. The Q&A began.
CLAUDIA EVE BEAUCHESNE: Are you cold?
TAO LIN: Yeah. Yes.
CLAUDIA: I want to know the concept behind the film production company, what inspired you to start it? What’s the aim of this company?
TAO: You do it.
MEGAN BOYLE: We just did like. We originally just like, asked each other questions while we were on MDMA and started filming it.
CLAUDIA: Are you hoping to just keep doing that or is this evolving, or…?
CLAUDIA: What do you hope it’s going to evolve into? Are you just going to take MDMA and film yourselves, or…?
MEGAN: We just do like, different drugs.
MAN: What are you on now?
TAO: Um. Oh yeah, I have something to add to that.
TAO: Um. What was the question?
CLAUDIA: What, my question? Why MDMA, why do you feel like filming yourselves when you’re on MDMA?
TAO: On YouTube there’s like, a few videos where people ask – answer questions when they’re on drugs and not on drugs.
MEGAN: They get a lot of hits.
CLAUDIA: That was your goal?
TAO: (laughs) Yeah.
MEGAN: It seemed interesting. It seemed interesting.
TAO: And they were really funny. But it seemed like there were only like, 3 of them. We wanted to do something like that. But then we just kept filming. It seemed interesting to make feature films out of it.
MAN: What is MDMA?
MEGAN: It’s ecstasy.
TAO: I don’t really know what it is.
(noises of people talking, door opening and closing, people moving around)
TAO: It seems like there’s confusion.
MEGAN: Big time confusion. Big time confusion.
TAO: Confusion over the…door. What’s going on? (laughs) Anyone over here have questions? James.
MEGAN: James Yeh.
JAMES YEH: Do you guys have like, um, certain like, do you guys like, talk about ideas for like, scenes or any like, that kind of stuff or like
TAO: Good question.
JAMES: or like, how much do you do?
MEGAN: Sometimes like, like for the MDMA movie we thought we were going to go like, to get a canoe and like do that, but then other things seemed to happen. What’s wrong, whatever it is. And.
JAMES: So is it just like one, like um, “this is a canoe quest,” um sort of thing – that’s like the main one – and then there’s all this other stuff that just happens along the way, or is there other like, multiple
MEGAN: It kind of changes. Like, new probably, I guess.
TAO: The plan was just to go canoeing. But then
MEGAN: But then we went to – then that failed.
TAO: But then. What happened?
MEGAN: We went to Times Square and then we went to Toys ‘R Us.
TAO: It was getting dark too fast or something, for canoeing. Then we changed it.
MEGAN: But that was our driver’s fault.
TAO: Yeah. We want the movies to have some kind of plot. We don’t want to just be like, sitting in one place.
MAN: And the whole film, you guys are on MDMA?
TAO: Yeah. It’s just one take for this movie.
MAN: Were you on MDMA for the editing, too?
MEGAN: They’re not – they’re not edited.
TAO: Oh yeah, that one isn’t edited, it’s just one take. Or we edited it by cutting it at some point because it was like four hours
TAO: of footage.
MAN: How long is it now? How long is the picture?
TAO: One hour fifty-nine, I think.
WOMAN: What were you using to film it? Because, was it just a small camera?
MEGAN: Just like, MacBook. Carried the computer.
TAO: I mean.
MAN (laughing): Were you afraid someone would just take it and run or something?
TAO: Not when we were holding it.
MEGAN: We would clutch it.
TAO: We were holding it almost the entire time.
WOMAN: Did you stop to recharge it?
TAO: No, we just charged it beforehand. You can’t hear the audio if it’s away from you, so we held it. For our other movies we want to
MEGAN: Do other things.
TAO: Yeah, like edit and have more than one MacBook.
MEGAN: Yeah. They won’t all just be like, one…take.
WOMAN: Like, what if you start not enjoying that drug?
WOMAN: Um. What happens if you want to try a different drug? Isn’t it your company name?
TAO: It’s the company name.
MEGAN: If we start like, not enjoying?
WOMAN: Yeah, if you want to change the drug.
TAO: That’s the name of our company is this drug, but –
MEGAN: But we do many different kinds. Like, we have cocaine, heroin, and one called “Podcast.”
TAO: Yeah we have a website, this is one of our movies. We have five other movies planned. They’re not all on MDMA. That’s just one of them.
MAN: You’ve got your whole lives to try this stuff.
MAN: You’ve got your whole lives to try this stuff, why put all this in one?
TAO: I don’t understand anything you just said.
MAN: (repeats sentence, quieter and with more words)
TAO: I still don’t understand.
MAN: She asked if you won’t enjoy the drug
MEGAN: (knowingly) Oh yeah.
MAN: and I said you have plenty of time to try stuff.
TAO: Oh yeah yeah yeah. We’re not going to do more than one movie per drug.
MAN: Are there any plans for over-the-counter drugs?
MEGAN: We were going to do “Carbs.” We thought about doing “Carbs.”
TAO: Our non-drug movies that we have planned are “Shopping Spree,” “Podcast”
MEGAN: Bill Clegg.
TAO: “Bill Clegg” – a documentary on Bill Clegg, the author. Anyone know Bill Clegg? (pause)
TAO: And then. Oh yeah we want to do one called “Mumblecore.”
MAN: Mumble core?
MAN: You guys ever thought about shooting a porn on drugs?
MAN: That would be cool.
TAO: If someone wants to pay us.
MAN: What are your influences?
MEGAN: “Your influences”? Mumblecore movies.
TAO: I like the, uh. Uh. I don’t know.
MEGAN: Stuff we like. Mumblecore.
CLAUDIA: So, what, are you trying to push the mumblecore genre to its extreme?
CLAUDIA: Okay. How are you trying to do that? Is it because there is no plot involved? Just a mumblecore without any kind of organization?
CLAUDIA: I mean how do you feel you’re building upon the legacy of mumblecore?
TAO: We’re not. Right?
MEGAN: Yeah. We’re not, consciously.
TAO: Yeah, we didn’t think about precedents, I don’t think.
MEGAN: Yeah. We didn’t discuss that.
TAO: We didn’t think about precedents. Just doing what. What?
MEGAN: What we feel like.
TAO: Yeah, what we feel like.
CLAUDIA: Okay. So do you feel like uh, your, the lack of production values in your videos adds something to that? Kind of, makes up for something more contrasted, more perfected? Is that on purpose? It seems like the shots are framed, you know, inconveniently, on purpose.
TAO: We don’t have money.
MEGAN: Yeah. We didn’t really think about any of that. I guess.
TAO: Or if we did we just wanted to. I guess it’s just mostly for ourselves to re-watch.
CLAUDIA: It seems like you’ve set this company up about a week ago and you’ve been so prolific already. How many films have you made in the past week?
MEGAN: Two. Well, the mushrooms.
TAO: Oh yeah, we made two features. We made one on mushrooms also.
CLAUDIA: Okay. So how do you come up with new ideas for feature projects? Is it just doing drugs?
TAO: Just by talking to each other, right?
MAN: So. You said you don’t have any money and that is why the shots aren’t framed in any sort of effective way – you’re entering the canvas unsure, you don’t see what it is directly – it’s all interaction. You go into Walmart or wherever you were talking to the kid about Harry Potter, and there’s a shot of this boy with space above his head, and all you see is this visual image?
TAO: We didn’t think about that. Did we think about that?
CLAUDIA: Are you trying to, on purpose, not show us, the audience, what we want to see?
CLAUDIA: Because there are some shots in the interviews where you’re shooting only the body of the person, not their head?
MEGAN: That’s just from holding it. Just holding it.
TAO: Yeah, that’s all accidental. But I feel like even if I were planning it out I would make it like that, just because if you go see any movie it’s going to show the conventional thing. Like, just show angles that add to it. Right?
CLAUDIA: But what about the stationary shots in the subway and the cars?
TAO: The computer’s just here.
MEGAN: We prop it. Prop it up against something.
CLAUDIA: And you’re planning to star in all of your movies?
TAO: Except “Bill Clegg,” we want to get him.
TAO: Bill Clegg, he’s the author of “Portrait of a Young,” um
MEGAN: “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man.”
TAO: We want to do a documentary on him.
TAO: It’s cold. Cold. Is there any closing? Is there something we wanted to say?
MEGAN: Is there any, uh?
TAO: Thanks for coming.
MAN: What’s your favorite drug?
CLAUDIA: I guess that’s what inspired you to start the company in the first place right?
MEGAN: Yeah, it’s like, the name.
TAO: Actually mushrooms, first. We wanted to just answer questions on and off mushrooms.
TAO: Answer ten questions on mushrooms. Then answer the same questions off mushrooms. For a two-minute YouTube video.
CLAUDIA: Have you done that before?
MEGAN: We did it with MDMA but not mushrooms.
CLAUDIA: Okay. Which drugs are left to experiment with?
MEGAN: Like, everything.
TAO: Just…every other drug.
CLAUDIA: In the context of this show, how do you feel like these movies are representative of your relationship? Or, you know, the friendship or whatever? You know? Because you’re like the stars in all the videos, so how do you feel the styles of the videos are representative of your interpersonal relationship?
MEGAN: It’s like, part of. Just like. I guess it’s just happens. Or. Go, you answer it.
TAO: I answer it? Um. It’s easier to work with one person than five people. Does that answer anything? It’s easiest to work with one person, but you can’t make movies, really, with just one person.
CLAUDIA: Then I guess, but still, in the context of this show, how did you two meet?
TAO: We met like, three years ago.
MEGAN: Yeah. Yeah.
TAO: On the internet. Two years?
MEGAN: We started doing this like, a couple months ago. Or, no. Mushrooms we did – less than…
TAO: Less than a month.
CLAUDIA: Then I guess, how do you two manage to come up with all these things together since you live in different states?
MEGAN: We live like, three hours away. I live in Baltimore.
TAO: We’ve just like, taken the bus.
TAO: You can go, you can watch the full trailer soon on the. Just go to the website, MDMAfilms.org.
CLAUDIA: I have another question actually. How do you plan to juggle your film career with your writing careers, both of you? You’re both published writers. You’re planning to keep doing both?
TAO: There seems to be enough time to do both. I spend so much time just doing nothing so, there seems to be a lot of time.
WOMAN: Do you think that’s going to inform your writing in different ways?
TAO: No. Um…No.
MEGAN: Or, well.
TAO: Orwell? (laughs)
MEGAN: Just as much as anything else does. I don’t know. Just like, how anything else does. I don’t think things will become more. No. Nevermind.
CLAUDIA: So you still consider yourselves writers, first?
TAO: I don’t consider myself anything.
MEGAN: Yeah. I don’t know. I guess writer, first, I guess. Career. Or, both, both. I don’t know. Whatever I feel interested in doing.
MEGAN: Whatever I feel like doing.
TAO: I don’t consider myself anything. Thanks for coming. Feel free to preorder. We’ve sold one so far.