Scion is making movies. The Toyota division is backing the first of several feature films it has planned through its Scion A/V arts channel and a relationship with New York-based counterculture media conglomerate Vice.
The first film, "New Garage Explosion!!: In Love With These Times," is a documentary examination of the U.S. garage music scene. The film is on Scion A/V's Web site, www.scionav.com and on VBS.tv, the webcast arm of Vice.
Jeri Yoshizu, Scion's head of sales and promotions, says Scion has had a relationship with Vice for five years starting with ad buys in Vice Magazine, then tasking Vice with bringing talent to Scion's own rock festivals. "They have a high level of expertise when it comes to talent and artists."
The new movie delves into the life and music of that talent -- garage bands from hotbeds like San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., Detroit, New York, Memphis, Atlanta, and Portland, Ore.
Yoshizu says the idea for the documentary actually was born at one of several concerts that Scion A/V produces each year. "I was at one of our rock festivals with [Vice founder] Suroosh Alvi and we started taking about evolving it into a film project." She explains that Scion had already done things like "Scion Route," a five-year tour of independent films, and had also sponsored a national tour of the Vice-produced 2007 documentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" [starring Alvi].
"I told him that I want to produce original Scion content," Yoshizu says. "It's a natural evolution for us because we had been working on a Scion tour of garage bands and had started documenting these awesome events we are doing."
Yoshizu says the move was easy because Scion had interview footage of 30 or so garage acts flown in for Scion concerts and taped for Scion A/V. "Because the stories coming out of these were so amazing we decided we wanted to do films on these people."
The original idea for the film's title was "The Business of No Business" since all of the artists have day jobs, and are thus the antithesis of big-name, big-budget acts. "I can't work with big names, the Kanye Wests of the world partly because they are too expensive, and partly because at the end of the day the artist eclipses the brand every single time.
Scion also sponsors "metal" shows twice a month in Los Angeles, and Atlanta and soon in Chicago, per Yoshizu. And the brand also produces a rock show each month at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and in Austin, Tex.
Yoshizu says Scion will keep branding to a minimum in the films: no product placement, just the Scion A/V logo before and after the credits. "We did the film so that we have content for the garage world to talk about," she says. "The typical corporate logic is 'let's put a car in it.' But people aren't' going to talk about it if there is blatant product placement. They will talk about it if there is relevant content. It seems kind of weird that we don't have products in it, but it's a vehicle for us to market our name, to keep our name out there."
Yoshizu says that Scion A/V is working on another film about the metal scene currently in the edit room. And the next round of films, she says, will also include a three-part series about the business of music.