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What Is Ephemerality?

Photographer & Filmmaker Matthew Meigs talks about his upcoming music documentary on Greetings, a band based out of Hartford, CT and made up of independent musicians from the Hartford music scene.
Written & Photographed by
Matthew Meigs

Who are you?

I grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut, and in my senior year of high school I found out there was a darkroom at my school that wasn’t being used. I had just gotten my hands on my first 35mm film camera. It was a Vivitar V3800N that my friend’s mom gave me.

I ended up spending that entire school year attempting to make proper exposures, develop film without ruining it, and bumping Pink Floyd while I made 5x7 black and white prints. I felt such good vibes, spending my time in that magic room with dim red lights and running water. I had never experienced anything like it and I was producing art I cared about for the first time in my life.

That love for film photography developed into a love for motion pictures. Now I’m a filmmaker at the University of Rhode Island directing my second short film. I’ve also acted and crewed on many short film productions both big and small. My first film titled, The World We Live In, is an experimental film representing my fears about our society’s current usage of technology, shot entirely on 16mm and super 8 film. I felt and still feel that it was a successful creation and gave me the confidence needed to take on my current project.

What is Ephemerality?

This film is about a moment that I think everyone has or will have at least once in their lives. It’s a moment only described as, “You had to be there.” Experiences like these don’t happen often, but often happen during musical performances. Someone might consider their favorite concert to be their version of this similar story. We attempt to share these stories with each other and in this case, our story focuses on Greetings, a local Connecticut band based out of Hartford. They are the reason, “You had to be there.”

Ephemerality is an experimental music documentary about the fleeting, one of a kind nature of live, human performance. Greetings has been described by the local legend and rising independent record label from West Hartford, Funnybone Records, as, “...a faceless, amorphous superorganism of musicians in the Hartford, CT scene. Members from Mantis, King Bongo, SLOOF, Phat A$tronaut, and Donnie Alexzander have contributed to its expanding universe of analog psychedelia. Their debut record is a hazy dreamworld. If you let yourself, you can lose yourself in their cosmic embrace.”

Ephemerality will include live concert footage with a live audience, recording sessions, and interviews with Greetings. To me, their music and live performances feel experimental at their core, and in their process of creation. I think my style of filmmaking lends itself to the nature of the band. The footage will be primarily super 8, with a little 16mm and miniDV footage mixed in for good measure.

“Greetings... They are the reason, ‘You had to be there.’ ”

Why This Film? Why This Band? Make an experimental music documentary on Super 8 and 16mm stock? I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I want to show the world a raw, unfiltered experience of Greetings. I’m making this film because it is my chance to do something I’ve never done before, to collaborate with people I’ve been dying to collaborate with. Greetings is one of my favorite bands, the members of which are people who I respect and think are endlessly creative. I am very confident this project will take on a life of its own by the time it is completed.

Why Shoot On Film?

There’s no way to not sound like a hipster when I say this, but I almost exclusively shoot on film, especially for projects that I write and direct like this. Using Kodak film stock, the bulk of Ephemerality will be color and black and white super 8, with a little 16mm and MiniDV footage sprinkled in. I think shooting primarily on film stock is the best move for this project.

Super 8 footage has a gritty, vintage feel to it that I’m absolutely in love with. More importantly for Ephemerality, I think it fits the feeling Greetings conveys. It’s really easy to imitate the look of film in post production now, and it happens all the time, but the look isn’t the only reason I prefer to shoot film. Looking at a subject through a lens without a screen to monitor, creates a higher focus on what’s actually happening in real time.

Where are you now in terms of production? And what does the future hold?

Now that the fundraiser has ended the first thing I’ll do is send the film out to the lab. I have about 28 spent rolls of super 8 and a roll or two of 16mm in my closet right now waiting to be developed and scanned. It’s a little nerve racking to not have seen any of the footage me and my crew have shot, but I have a good feeling about it. Then once I get the film back I can start the editing and sound design. Ephemerality is scheduled to be done by the end of the summer.

I would like to thank Greetings, Dylan Healy, Funnybone Records, Henry Stein, Jasmine Jones, and everyone else who has supported the film in anyway, including Indiegogo contributors. Thank you for helping art break free of financial boundaries. You can stay updated with Ephemerality on Instagram and Facebook.