Interview with Brett Gaylor of RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

This morning my weekly E!Online article was published featuring RiP: A Remix Manifesto. It is a documentary about copyright laws and regulations pertaining to the music and film industry — and overall in our culture. Since my chat with Brett covered a lot of ground (and I’ve seen the film twice now), the following is an extended version of the interview and a little more about RiP, which will open in Vancouver theatres on March 20th, 2009.


It’s “a film about the public domain — about the right of citizens to participate in their culture and I think people appreciate that and recognize it,” said Director Brett Gaylor about his documentary, RiP: A Remix Manifesto, which is currently being released in theatres across Canada.

This look into the copyRIGHt and the copyLEFT follows music mashup artist Girl Talk, and features cameos from Lawrence Lessig, Gilberto Gil (Brazil’s Minister of Culture) and Cory Doctorow.

“I’ve always seen the audience as sort of a collaborator in the creation of the film and obviously in the distribution they’re the final collaborator,” noted Gaylor who has been publishing bits of the film online for all to view, remix and share. “In any film the final interpretation is brought to the work from the audience.”

Gaylor drives home the fact that it all depends on how open audiences are to embracing the issues, information and the ideals presented on screen in his colourful, bold, funny and music-dance-party-filled film. “If we treated folks that wanted to know about the film as peers than as consumers or as fans then they would be invested in it and they would have an interest in seeing how it turned out, they’d tell their friends, they’d share the film, they would come out to screenings.”

With this all-star digital line up and seemingly non-stop get-up-and-dance-around beats provided by Girl Talk and various other artists RiP truly can truly empower generations with its ground-breaking style however: “The coolest lawyer in the world just told me I’m making an illegal film,” notes Gaylor in the movie after talking to Lawrence Lessig.

Lessig being the man behind Creative Commons – a form of licensing that allows for sharing, remixing, and re-using — legally. But this collaborative system of building and sharing may not be for all.

RiP not only talks about sharing and recreating works that are already published, it includes sound clips and songs along with and television and movie footage – from The Rolling Stones to Mickey Mouse in order to make its fair use statement.

“[Some] might think that what I’m trying to say is that everything should be free and that nobody should pay at all for art — I don’t say that in the film.” While Gaylor acknowledges that not all may see eye-to-eye with regards to his Manifesto, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “There’s a lot of apprehension around this issue and it was sort of the goal of the film to encourage debate… …You can’t invite people to a conversation about your film and then expect that everyone will agree with you.”

In the film Girl Talk chats with his parents about his performances and his music while one of them shows concern that me might face legal action due to the fact that he uses sound bytes from published artists to create his own music. I asked Gaylor if he’s had any reactions like that from his mother after creating this film, which does embody some of those same elements. “She sees in it sort of some echos of what was happening when maybe she was my age of maybe a bit younger – that there was a feeling of change in the air and a tension between old models and old ways of thinking and something newer, that was hopeful.”

When it comes to actual copyright law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its little sister law in Canada, C-61 (that never came to be) Gaylor states that it’s yet to be done right.

“What [those laws] did was put a whole bunch of people in front of judges, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it didn’t do any better — so I guess what we’re saying is can we actually make something that makes sense of the technology and makes sense of what people are doing in practice instead of only creating laws that are wish-lists from American record companies.”

What I definitely take away from the conversation is that it’s all about making sure you’re informed as an individual, and society. “We want people to talk about this with their friends and invite conversations around the dinner table about the role of intellectual property legislation in our life, as an issue. Just like the environment is an issue that you need to have opinions about and take action on. Intellectual property is about the domain of the mind, of culture, and no matter what side of this issue you sit on, we have to recognize that it’s really important.”

Empowered by the film’s message, download clips from  to expand on Gaylor’s work, then upload to share your creation and be a part of RiP’s future. “The main thing is to participate and to contribute to further evolving versions of the film because we’re going to take that to different film festivals and remix it as we go along.” If you believe everything comes from something else, you’ll want to truly make something of RiP: A Remix Manifesto after you’ve seen it — only once you’re done dancing to the beats that will surely be stuck in your head.

You can join the Facebook event for the March 20th screening and theatrical release in Vancouver at the Ridge Theatre and you can also check it out on the 19th with the First Weekend Club.

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  1. Waterlife Movie Pass Contest » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittWednesday, July 15th, 2009 — 8:01am PDT

    […] I realized that almost every movie on my “must see” list was a documentary (including Rip: A Remix Manifesto and Addicted to Plastic). This is why I’m pretty excited about the Canadian film Waterlife, […]

  2. 2009: My Year in Review » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittThursday, December 31st, 2009 — 10:30am PST

    […] March 2009 Liveblogging from Canucks games, covering the 2009 Juno Awards, interviewing Matthew Barber, interviewing Brett Gaylor of RIP: A Remix Manifesto. […]

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