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Red carpet ready: Now in its seventh year, the annual Music Video Asheville celebrates local musicians and filmmakers with 90 minutes of visuals, along with networking and prizes. Photo by Natasha Meduri

Music Video Asheville goes big

Music Video Asheville is having a banner year. The local event, which marks its seventh year on Wednesday, April 16, received a record number of submissions and moved into a new venue. Produced for the third year in a row by Kelly Denson and Jason Guadagnino of Asheville’s Lush Life Productions, the event is both a networking social and a fundraiser.

But the real purpose of Music Video Asheville is to showcase area bands and their visual, cinematic representations. As Denson says, “It’s a chance to celebrate the collaboration between musicians and filmmakers.”

The event also gives those artists — whether they’re emerging or established — the opportunity to reach an audience. “It really gives them something to make their videos for,” says Denson. “Instead of just putting them on YouTube, they can win something.”

Music Video Asheville exists as part small-scale film festival and part awards show, complete with red carpet. Entrants are given the chance to claim victory in a number of categories: Crowd Favorite, Judge’s Choice, Best Soundtrack, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Design and Best Editing. The first two are the big ones, though, with the Crowd Favorite (selected by text message voting by those in attendance) walking away with $500, and the Judge’s Choice (picked by a panel of local experts) winning a full day of recording at Echo Mountain Studio.

The most noticeable change to 2014’s Music Video Asheville will be its venue. After spending most of its life at Cinebarre (and one year at Fine Arts Theatre), the event’s popularity has spurred a move into the Diana Wortham Theatre. “We realized we needed a bit more room to grow,” Denson says. “It’s a beautiful venue right downtown.”

The other big change comes in the form of Music Video Asheville’s submissions policy. In years past, at least one member of each band or production team had to be a resident of Buncombe County. Now, one person simply has to live within 60 miles of the county borders — and that has led to a boom in submissions.

There’s also a new vetting process, led by a panel of 12 experts in film and music production fields. Everything from the technical aspects of the filmmaking to aesthetic choices are taken into account (though Denson says that the quality of the music is weighted a little heavier than other categories), until it’s all whittled down to the finest hour-and-a-half possible.

The total 90-minute run time of the videos is, for the first time, shorter than in years past, partly to give more time for socializing and networking, two aspects that Denson has found to be important and unique to the event. “I feel like that’s part of what it’s about — the networking, getting to know one another,” she says. “And it’s almost a family reunion of Asheville’s musicians. It’s the one event where everyone gets together. You combine that with the other part of the creative community — the filmmakers — and it’s got such a great, cool energy.”

Photo by Natasha Meduri
Photo by Natasha Meduri

But Denson sees Music Video Asheville as more than just a night of schmoozing. Proceeds from beer sales (provided by Sierra Nevada) will help support Asheville Music School’s scholarship program. That will allow Music Video Asheville to continue cultivating the community’s music and filmmaking scene, even as the event continues to grow. “We have toyed around with the idea of expansion. In my dream world, I’d love to have [events] throughout the country and have them all come together in Asheville,” Denson says. “The bigger the event grows, the higher the platform. The more we’re able to make this event, where we have these incredible videos that are really well-produced, it starts to put Asheville on the map as somewhere where great music and great filmmaking is coming out of.”

She adds, “As we elevate the status of the event, we’re in turn elevating the status of the musicians and the filmmakers as well, and hopefully getting them seen and acknowledged even by people who are outside of our city.”

WHAT: Music Video Asheville
WHERE: Diana Wortham Theatre
WHEN: Wednesday, April 16. Red carpet at 5:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., awards at 9:30 p.m. $10 advance/$12 day of show


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