Photo courtesy of Showrinji.
"No Parking," a documentary a year and a half in the making, is set to be a gritty, beautifully DIY look at some controversial topics, pursued sans what the filmmakers see as the self-glorification some locally-made films about Long Beach seem to spout.
Five Long Beach locals, Michael Barnes, Alex Cheseborough, Jessica Burger, Sean Pritchett and Robert Nies make up Showrinji, an independent group of filmmakers keen on taking a closer look at just how Long Beach’s DIY music scene functions, and how that ecosystem has widespread implications on the city as a whole, and vice versa.
By taking a deep dive behind the scenes and offering a glance into the lives and motivations of Long Beach-based artists and groups like Rufrano, the Natives, Rudy de Anda, Bearcoon and Crimewave 5150, to name a handful, as well as independent labels Porch Party Records and Astro Lizard Records, the film aims to elicit some sense of surprise from its viewers regarding the impact different realms have on one another.
From left: Michael Barnes, Sean Pritchett and Jessica Burger, three of the five-person Showrinji team. Photo by Asia Morris.
“I hope [viewers] enjoy it, I hope they smile seeing the people in it, hearing them talk about the scene. And a lot of it is about passion, so I hope they get that from it,” Burger said. “But we hope that it makes them think. That’s probably our biggest thing[...] it's not just a yearbook video, it’s supposed to be a little bit cerebral. And if people have opinions about it, that’s okay.”
Formerly titled LBCene, the film’s creators rechristened it "No Parking," an arguably appropriate catalyst to discussing what Long Beach is all about through the lens of its music scene, including the perspectives of venue owners, city officials, musicians, artists, fans and community members alike.
“Even people who live on the East Side, what’s the point of going to downtown? Why? There’s no parking,” stated Michelle Molina in one of the film’s trailers. Molina is the managing partner of Millworks, owner of The Packard Building (among other sites used for arts and entertainment) which has so far served as a thriving, repurposed venue showcasing music and contemporary arts since opening last year.
In April during an Open Conversations event and unrelated to the documentary (no Showrinji members were in attendance) attendees brought up lack of available parking and affordable housing in relation to the city’s music scene, as well as frustration with permits and lack of venues, “saying that people won’t go to shows if they have to give up their parking spot and that artists are having to move out of the city because they can’t afford the cost of living anymore.”
Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, an advocate for the city’s performers and creatives, who is interviewed in the film, brought some of those frustrations to city council in June in the form of two items. In other words, the film certainly taps into current and controversial topics through the views of local artists.
“[Long Beach has] changed over the last six years since I’ve been here, a lot,” Pritchett said. “I have mixed feelings about that, I’m hoping we can address that in the documentary. Music is a result of people’s feelings and I think they coincide and things can be shown through music culturally. And in a changing culture it can be interesting to watch that.”
“Yes, it’s going to be critical in some ways of the scene, but it came from a really real place in our hearts and what we saw when we talked to people,” Burger said. “It is a lot about community coming together, but then it’s also about how that can blind you in a way.”
"No Parking" also touches on “the Long Beach bubble” or the feeling of getting stuck in a place of comfort. It’s an idea that the Showrinji crew found to be a common topic throughout their interviews with local artists and decided to explore more in depth. Whether Long Beach functions as an actual community or just a group of cliques is also a question explored. Even gentrification, as told from a crew of filmmakers non-native to the city but who chose to live here, is a topic mentioned in the film.
“We’ve cut three trailers so far. [The third trailer] was like, okay, now we’re going to roll the sleeves up and show you that yeah, maybe there’s things here that people don't really want to talk about,” Barnes said. “I think we all love Long Beach, that’s why we wanted to make the doc, but we love it so much that we want to bring these questions up that I don’t think anybody else is doing.”
Posted earlier this month, the Showrinji's indiegogo campaign has raised 3 percent of their goal of reaching $4,800, to be used for equipment for post production, film festival submissions and a premiere party. Supporters will receive pins, tickets and other goodies depending on their donation.