When musicians are on tour, there can be a lot of downtime to fill between performances.
Some occupy themselves with sightseeing, some with writing music, others with partying, while a select few (perhaps only Brandon Isaak and Keith Picot) shoot their own silent films.
Fans of the pre-talkie era, musicians Isaak and Picot have gone from collecting reels and projectors to screening movies in their hotel rooms while on tour to making their own films, and now pairing them with their performances.
The blues, roots and swing musicians are taking their multimedia show to Errington War Memorial Hall (1390 Errington Rd.) on Nov. 30.
The pair (Isaak an award-winning blues guitar-vocalist and Picot a slaphappy stand-up bass player) combine their original music with some Vaudevillian comedy and their silent movies, starring themselves, to create their show.
“I’ve always loved silent film,” said Isaak of the decision to include it in the show. “I have many projectors, old reel-to-reel movie projectors. I might have 25 of them, different brands and makes, and some record players. I’ve always collected them. I have a million old silent films that are on reel-to-reel. I have old boxing fights in silent films, and cartoons,” he said.
“To me, that was real movie-making in those days, when there was no sound. The talkie hadn’t been invented.”
Once it had, everyone relied on words to tell a story, Isaak said. Not only was it a loss for the deaf, who could enjoy silent movies along with everyone else, it was a loss for everyone, said Isaak.
“Film was so magic when you didn’t have words, and you had to do everything with just action.”
Finding a kindred spirit in Picot (he writes, produces and directs silent films through his Hek’s Half Acre Silent Film Studio), who Isaak has been performing with for about 13 years, the pair often filled their time while on tour with silent movies.
“We would bring a reel-to-reel projector and an old silent reel with us… we’d head up into our hotel room and… blast old movies,” he said with a laugh.
Eventually, the pair made the leap to making their own silent films.
“You know, you’re on the road and you don’t have much to do,” explained Isaak. “We try to get the most authentic silent film style we can,” he said, from Chaplin-esque movies with slapstick, to more sentimental films and even some horror films.
Isaak said he’s eagerly awaiting the finishing of their latest movie about a fortune-teller.
“We probably have 40 silent films,” he said, all between three and five minutes long.
“We all-of-a-sudden just thought, ‘Why don’t we actually blast these things behind us while we’re playing music?’” said Isaak.
The Silver Screen Scoundrels show consists of a musical performance sprinkled with some slapstick comedy antics and theatrical elements from Picot and Isaak, and a handful of movies at different points in the show, with the duo playing music alongside.
“Sometimes we write the music to the movie, sometimes we make the movie to the music,” said Isaak.
Aimed at providing a portal back through time, the Silver Screen Scoundrels perform at Errington hall on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, Heaven on Earth Natural Foods in Qualicum Beach, the Errington Store, and $22.50 online at erringtonhall.tickit.ca.
Kids ages six to 12 are $5 at the door, while those under six are free.
For more info, go to www.erringtonhall.ca.