Community, Features, Print June 30, 2021

Make More Everything: FoCo Film and Music Collide and Connect

by Gabe Allen

These days, anyone can create and disseminate a video, short work of fiction or piece of music while holed up in their bedroom. Smartphones, user-friendly editing software and template-based web development companies have made it easier than ever to broadcast your creative voice to the world. But, with these innovations has also come the potential for isolation. When you don’t need anyone else’s skills or expertise, or even an audience, to be creative, it’s easy to become sealed off from the outside world.

This trend deepened during the pandemic. Performance art and creative collaboration retreated into the lonlier, less tactile, digital realm. But, in Fort Collins, two creative professionals have schemed up a multimedia challenge aimed at reviving artistic collaboration in the local community.

“A lot of people that are emotionally driven tend to gravitate towards the arts,” musician Maxwell Tretter tells BandWagon. “But, then they also hit this pivotal moment between the path of isolation or the path of connection. Almost always the path of isolation leads toward destructive tendencies. I don’t want that for anyone, I’m sick of hearing about the tragic origin story. I want to hear about the well connected, like, ‘life went great for me and I made amazing shit’ story.”

And thus sparked a new forum for positive, interactive creativity. It all started when Tretter challenged his instagram followers to create an original song in just a week during the early days of the pandemic last spring. Last summer, he followed it up with Make More Everything, which he described as “a game of telephone between writers, musicians and visual artists.” This summer, Tretter collaborated with the creator of the Weekend Warriors 48-hour film slam, Jesse Nyander, to bring filmmakers into the mix.

“There are a gajillion different music venues and a gajillion different art galleries,” Tretter tells BandWagon. “What Jesse does for independent filmmakers is kind of the only thing that exists for that art form in our area.”

“I just get pleasure from seeing my friends make stuff, Tretter said. “That’s my motivating factor. One of my closest friends was a writer for that competition. Not only did she write the movie, but she also acted in it. It was clear that it was so deeply personal for her. And this is a new method of expression because she’s never written a screenplay before, and she’s never acted before.”

After gathering participants through social media (each signed up as a visual artist, musician, filmmaker or writer), Nyander and Tretter assigned randomly-assembled teams to a prompt. Then, the teams had from June 4 to 12 to create an original film that incorporated original music and art direction. 

“Everybody showed up kind of excited but also scared. This is one of the first large social interactions that they’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic,” Tretter said. “People forget what it’s like to sit down and be creative with a stranger. And that’s something that used to happen all the time,” Nyander added.

Four of the films in this year’s Make More Everything project. Clockwise from top left: Weight Of Space, The More Things Change, Candy, Whole.

Nonetheless, the teams got right to work. 

“Every team hung out there for like two hours on the first day,” Nyander said. “There were some deep thoughts going on, I was afraid to interrupt.”

Tretter continued: “I want people to get over the notion that talent and ability is something you’re born with — the right to express yourself. Freedom of expression is a pivotal part of the human experience as a whole.”

During “First Friday” on July 2, the Lyric Cinema will host the Make More Everything launch party for the films. Participating musicians will perform live, visual artists will display props and art and, at sundown, each film will be introduced and projected on the big screen. After it’s all over, the audience and creators will mingle and dance while local trio Trash Cat plays a set to end the night.