Two new documentaries: Smart Studios and Girls Rock Camp

Madison area filmmakers make new documentaries
Two new documentaries: Smart Studios and Girls Rock Camp
Audre Rae Krull
Girls Rock Camp

The past and future of Madison music are the subjects of two new documentaries by area female musician-filmmakers.

“The Smart Studios Story” brings viewers deeper into the dilapidated East Washington Avenue building that Butch Vig and Steve Marker famously turned into a creative and productive force for alternative music. When the national media mentions Smart Studios, it starts and ends with the more infamous recording sessions that took place there. And while the film does include interviews with Nirvana’s Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins (who, in the film, disses an attempt to upgrade the space), former Smart Studios engineer and producer Wendy Schneider–who directed, edited and produced the film–knowingly sets a more Madison-centric scene. We get Vig’s thoughts on local metal icons Die Kreuzen and the enigmatic Singing Irishman.

“The Smart Studios Story” came out on DVD late last year and can be found on iTunes.

A very different but also insightful documentary, “Take the Stage: A Girls Rocumentary,” about the Madison chapter of Girls Rock Camp, is due out on DVD this month. There will be a public screening of the film this spring. Filmmakers Portia Danis and Darla Courtney follow camp attendees, girls ages 8 to 18, for a week as they learn to play instruments, form bands, write, record and perform a song in front of an audience–and build skills and confidence in the process. Instructors at the camp have included local luminaries Meghan Rose, Beth Kille and Shawndell Marks, so expect to see them in the full-length doc, too.

Karin Wolf, arts program administrator for the city of Madison, says “Take the Stage” received a $500 grant from her department. Both documentaries speak well of Madison’s music scene, she says. “I like to think that art that breeds art shows we have fertile ground here.”

Click here for the full Madison ‘music city’ story.