Watch D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist
- 55 min
D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist is a documentary film that explores the world of underground art and music. Directed by Michael W. Dean, the film takes its title from the punk rock ethos that encourages artists to create and distribute their own work outside of mainstream channels. The film features interviews with a variety of independent artists, including musicians, writers, zinesters, and visual artists. Among the interviewees are Ron Asheton of The Stooges, Mike Boner of the band Society Burning, and Lynn Breedlove of the queer punk band Tribe 8.
The film presents a stark contrast between mainstream culture and the independent underground. In interviews with musicians like Asheton and Boner, the film shows how the music industry can be exploitative and stifling for artists. These musicians describe being locked into contracts that restrict their creative freedom, and being required to make music that fits within pre-existing genre categories.
In contrast, the film presents the independent underground as a space for experimentation and freedom. Artists like Breedlove describe the DIY ethic of punk rock as a way to escape oppressive social norms and create a space for marginalized voices. They discuss the importance of creating their own zines, music, and art, and the DIY infrastructure that enables them to distribute their work.
D.I.Y. or Die also explores the challenges that independent artists face in building a following and making a living from their work. Several interviewees describe working multiple jobs or living in poverty in order to dedicate time to their creative pursuits. The film shows how this struggle to balance art and survival can lead to burnout and exhaustion.
Despite these challenges, the film ultimately presents independent art as a vital force for social change. Artists in the film describe how their work can challenge oppressive systems, create community, and inspire others to action. Viewers are left with the sense that, despite the difficulties of being an independent artist, the rewards of pursuing creative freedom and authenticity are worth the struggle.
Throughout the film, director Michael W. Dean incorporates footage of underground art and music events, as well as home video footage and interviews with fans of independent art. This helps to illustrate the community that exists around independent art, and the diversity of forms that it can take.
Although D.I.Y. or Die was released in 2002, it remains relevant today as a testament to the enduring power of underground art and music. The film provides an inspiring and thought-provoking look at the challenges and rewards of pursuing a life in the arts outside of mainstream channels.
In conclusion, D.I.Y. or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist is a documentary film that examines the world of independent art and music. The film presents a contrast between mainstream culture and the independent underground, and explores the challenges that independent artists face in building a following and making a living from their work. Through interviews with a variety of artists, the film presents independent art as a vital force for social change, and leaves viewers with the sense that the rewards of pursuing creative freedom and authenticity are worth the struggle.