Music fans were stunned and saddened by today’s news of the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch, who passed away at age 47 after battling cancer.
Yauch’s influence as one-third of the iconic hip-hop boundary-breakers The Beastie Boys can hardly be overstated, but the rapper/musician was also involved in the filmmaking community, first with Beastie-related endeavors and later by branching out into the world of independent film distribution with his successful young company Oscilloscope Laboratories.
With the rising success of The Beastie Boys, Yauch — often under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér — began directing a number of their videos in 1989 with the release of their sophomore album “Paul’s Boutique.” Among the videos he directed were the acclaimed spots for “So What’cha Want,” “Body Movin’,” “Intergalactic,” the animated “Shadrach,” “Alive” (pictured) and “Sure Shot.” The latter was co-directed by frequent Beastie collaborator Spike Jonze.
Most recently, Yauch directed the 2011 clip for “Make Some Noise” (and its extended version, “Fight For Your Right Revisited”), an all-star video which served as a quasi-sequel to the Boys’ breakthrough 1986 video “Fight For Your Right (To Party”). “Noise” starred Danny McBride, Seth Rogen and Elijah Wood as the Reagan-era Beastie Boys (McBride was MCA) with Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly playing future versions. It also featured cameos from Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom, Chloe Sevigny, Ted Danson and many others.
Watch the “Make Some Noise” video here:
Yauch made the move to feature-length projects in 2006, directing the Beasties’ 2006 concert movie “Awesome: I F*ckin’ Shot That!,” which was largely made up of fan-shot footage from video cameras that were distributed into the crowd.
Here’s that film’s hilarious teaser:
In 2008, Yauch helmed the well-received basketball documentary “Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot.” He created his own distribution company, Oscilloscope Laboratories, in order to release the film.
Since then, Oscilloscope has grown into a prolific company distributing numerous acclaimed documentaries and indie features to theaters and DVD.
Many of the films championed by Yauch’s company were hard sells and may have had trouble finding distribution otherwise. Oscilloscope seemed unafraid to take chances on new filmmakers and quirky subjects.
Among the fiction features they distributed were the James Franco-as-Allen Ginsberg film “Howl,” Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cuttoff” and “Wendy & Lucy,” Oren Moverman’s Oscar-nominated “The Messenger,” “Bellflower,” the Finnish horror romp “Rare Exports” and Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need To Talk About Kevin.”
Watch the trailer for “The Messenger,” starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster:
Among the docs they released are “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man,” the gut-wrenching “Dear Zachary,” and the Oscar-nominated “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” directed by Banksy. Oscilloscope also handled the re-release and DVD version of Marc Singer’s 2000 film “Dark Days,” which featured a score by DJ Shadow.
Here’s a clip from “Exit From the Gift Shop,” which delved into the world of street art while also playing with perceptions of reality:
Oscilloscope’s upcoming releases include a new take on “Wuthering Heights” from “Fish Tank” director Andrea Arnold and the doc “Shut Up And Play The Hits,” which chronicles the final days of the critically-revered dance-rockers LCD Soundsystem. Watch the latter’s trailer here: