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A chat with Prism Prize founder – Louis Calabro

Submitted by on March 29, 2014 – 10:43 amNo Comment

Louis Calabro - LeftStill to this day, despite the fact of them being circulated of television or not anymore, artists and directors are still producing music videos all the time. Canadian artists, above all, use music videos and online circulation to garner fan bases outside of their comfort zone and across the world on the international stage. The second annual Prism Music Awards were held Sunday, March 23, at the Everleigh Nightclub in downtown Toronto. The grand prize of $5,000 for the 2014 Prism Prize was presented to Emily Kai Bock, director of Arcade Fire’s music video for “Afterlife.” Martyr spoke with founder and director of the Prism Prize Awards, Louis Calabro, about the second annual ceremony, and how it all started in the first place with he and his partner Neil Haverty. 

DS: Tell readers how you got involved with, built the Prism Prize Awards, and what the core values represent in the Canadian music industry?

LC: Several years ago, my partner Neil Haverty and I noticed music videos were being produced, released and shared quite frequently, despite not really being on TV anymore.  We also noticed a great number of creative people working in the format.  Many of which were on the Prism Prize Top 10, and others, too… Vincent, Morisset, Scott Cudmore, Angus Borsos, Natalie Rae Robison, Noah Pink, Jared Raab, Claire Edmondson, Emily Kai Bock, Brett Long and Winston Hacking, etc. We thought it was time to shed some light on the artists working behind the camera, and give them the respect and attention they deserved… It was our chance to bridge the music and film communities, and celebrate together. 

DS: In its second year, how have the Prism Awards evolved from the foundation since its inaugural year?LC: There has been more interest this year, from the industry, and the media.  We introduced 2 new Special Awards, one for innovation (Arthur Lipsett Award) and a Special Achievement Award, meant for a Canadian who’s made a significant impact around the world.  We’re starting to think of more events throughout the year… Screenings, video dance parties, etc. 1978643_629020687170148_6977655_nDS: What are the pros and cons of having such a large panel of jurors to decide on nominated videos? What were deciding factors for the judging of videos?LC: The jury has to be big.  It should be representative not only of the whole country, with reps from the east and west coasts, as well as the major city centres. It should also include people from different disciplines, i.e. the visual art community, filmmakers, producers, broadcasters, curators, programmers, etc. This is the only way to ensure the Top 10 is diverse, and representative as well.  These are all “pros.” As for “cons,” it’s difficult to have 100 people listen to what you say!  Just kidding, the jury members have all been great, and despite being busy, they stuck with us and watched all the videos, and took the time to vote.  We love our jury, and are always looking to add new, interesting members on a yearly basis.

The recommended criteria for choosing a top video are: Creativity, Originality, Style, Innovation and Effective Execution.

DS: Can you elaborate on the online voting process that lead to tonight’s winners?

LC: There are two rounds of votes.  The first vote consists of jurors watching hundreds of videos throughout the year.  Everything made in 2013 was eligible. The jurors then rank their top 5 picks, and we count the ranked votes, applying a formula where a first place vote is worth more than a second place vote, etc. and from that, we get our Top 10.  The second round of voting has the same jury ranking their top 3 out of the top 10, we then count the ranked votes, apply a formula to count the rankings and that gives us our winner. 

5. Any new ideas going forward possibly for next year? Have live performances been considered?

LC: As mentioned, we’d like to do some live events. I have been throwing events for 10+ years in Toronto and Montreal, so I have the experience to do that… Especially when it comes to dance parties, which are the best types of events.  I can see a video dance party series, or a screening series featuring the work of a couple directors at a time.

Interview by Devin Size

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