October 24, 2010

Out of the Shadows Into the Spotlight

Print More

Look at What the Light Did Now tells the tale of Canadian singer-songwriter Feist’s critically acclaimed third album, The Reminder. The film offers an intimate glance at the progression of both the album and her collaborators, from her unique shadow puppeteer to her record producer.

The documentary stands out because of Canadian film director Anthony Seck, who intermingles clips of her live performances with interviews and snippets of the production of different aspects of the album, from the music itself to the graphic design of the album cover and the music video.

After an intro depicting the onstage shyness of Leslie Feist, Seck glimpses into the story of how Clea Minaker projected a mix of 3-D objects such as crystals with paper cutouts to create an element of mystique onscreen behind Feist during her performances.

This clip intricately depicts how Minaker’s imagery comes to life, alternating between the final, live product and a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of these elaborate, yet simple creations. The film focuses on the meshing of this imagery with the ballad “Honey, Honey,” a song about love, featuring Feist, her guitar, Minaker, a vinyl board and clay.

The film slowly uncovers different tracks off the album as the story progresses, creating a dynamic similar to a live concert — the viewer anticipates “1234,” waiting for the story of the iPod commercial hit.

Unlike many band documentaries, the band and the music itself is not at the forefront of the story, as the story of Feist’s catchy songs is intermeshed with other aspects of The Reminder. The first mention of the music is in conjunction with the story of the recording studio, a Manor House outside of Paris.

While the house does feature La Frette Studios in the basement, Feist and her bandmates decided to bring the instruments, engineering and recording equipment upstairs into the main room so that they could have natural light and surroundings. Much of the film is filled with candid shots of these recording sessions, including sweeping imagery of close-ups of different band members playing, clapping, laughing and talking.

Seck offered an artistically unique portrayal of these sessions, as he fused traditional reflections and video of the success of the recording with abstract, close up shots of objects and people in the room for visual effect. Just as Feist hoped to create an audio-visual experience, Seck hoped to capture this novel sentiment in film.

Look at What the Light Did Now also captures Feist’s artistic development, including footage of her hype-girl days rapping alongside future producer Chilly Gonzalez and reflections from Broken Social Scene band mates Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew about Feist’s earliest days.

In addition, the film expands to shed light on the business side of The Reminder, including the production of her music video, the cover art and the decision to allow Apple use “1234” for an iPod commercial. The last decision proved particularly fruitful, as it allowed the album to jump up 8 spots on the Billboard 200 and for Time magazine to name it the second best song of 2007.

Video of the production of the music videos provided for both striking imagery and a comical glance into Feist’s personality. For one music video, Feist was daring enough to jump 40 feet out of a building, with the support of a stunt crew, into a crowd of pedestrians walking down a street. In “I Feel It All,” she hits trash barrels filled with fireworks for effect.

In order to show the thought process of the album cover, Seck begins this discussion with a slideshow of the progression of the different brainstormed covers and liner notes. As Feist shies away from the spotlight, she did not want to be on the cover — instead, graphic designer Simone Rubi decided to use a shadow of Feist’s figure behind colored rays of light for the cover art of The Reminder.

While Feist made sure to utilize her resources to fully develop her album, the film emphasizes the fact that work was as much of a priority as play and bonding. From living in a house with her co-workers in order to create a laid-back recording atmosphere to playing hockey with the band and crew, Look at What the Light Did Now projects an all-encompassing portrayal of the process of Feist’s award-winning album.

Original Author: Chris Leo Palermino