The Berlin Music Video Awards (BMVAs) are an annual festival that puts filmmakers and the art behind music videos in the spotlight.
Supporting both unknown and famous artists, it is a primary networking event for the video and music industries in Europe. Filled with a vast selection of music video marathons, professional judges, live performances, filmmaking workshops and networking events, the festival is not only a meeting ground for filmmakers, but also for musicians as well as all music enthusiasts. indieBerlin sat down with the festival’s producer, Aviel Silook, and asked him a few questions about the most underground Music Video festival in Europe.
indieBerlin: How did you come up with the Berlin Music Video Award concept?Aviel Silook: I started organizing events when I was 13. It was always my second profession till I came to Berlin. When I arrived here I found out that it could actually become a real job by working hard enough. I studied psychology and it was a difficult decision to leave everything behind and focus on organizing events. The first thing I did here was actually a stand up comedy night. We called it “Rathaus Comedy”. Paul Salamone, who was the host of the show, and I had it running for one year very successfully. This is how I got to know all the hosts of the show in the years to come, I always preferred comedians because I just think that things should be taken easy, the German way of moderating is not exactly my cup of tea, not in other film festivals anyway. In some point, after 1 year of small talks and parties which were very successful but got nowhere near to my life goals I decided to jump higher and take the risk of organizing a festival, the decision about a music video festival was pretty easy to me. This is my favorite form of art!
Unless the video is encouraging hate for a certain group, we don’t accept this shit
indieBerlin: How would you describe the values and ethics of the Berlin Music Video Awards?
AS: If you watch the selection of the festival you see that we have different categories, it’s very important for us to mix good videos with topics and content that touches everybody, especially groups or ideas that are missing the opportunity to express themselves in other festival or in normative conventional media. We don’t mind selecting political videos but we never really take a side. Unless the video is encouraging hate for a certain group, we don’t accept this shit. We like edgy videos, videos that push the limits but we also have a place for aesthetic videos. As much as it’s important for us to reward unknown artists, we still make sure not to discriminate videos from big artists. This year for example I would say that 10% of the presented videos are from huge artists like Mick Jagger, Alt J, Lady Gaga or even Justin Timberlake but those are just a few and there are more than 120 other amazing videos from all around the world and in many languages that got selected. For us it’s about the quality and creativity, popularity really doesn’t matter to us. Besides, what could be better than winning against Lady Gaga’s video?
indieBerlin: How did the festival grew since the first year?
AS: The festival grew very fast in all terms. I would even say that too fast for me to catch up. There are so many opportunities we didn’t take just because we wanted to take it slow and enjoy the process. Another thing is that there is a lot of pressure to deliver a more expensive festival while we try to stay independent and not to sell the festival to some big brand.
The madness is kept for the after parties.
indieBerlin: BMVA’s are not only about videos, it is also about fashion, live performances, etc., how do you integrate these in the festival?
AS: Yes, that’s right. Well, it is still about music videos but we try to bring things from the virtual world to the real world. So we bring some of the bands who are nominated to perform and express to connection between music videos and fashion through our fashion concept. The people behind the videos are hard workers, they take a break, come to the festival from abroad and we want to make sure that they have some really good time! So our program is indeed full of other stuff besides screenings. This year we have 2 after parties,25th and 26th, and even a pool party if the weather will allow it. Someone once told me that the Berlin Music Video Awards is considered to the “spring break” of the music video industry, for me it’s funny to hear it but yeah, whatever, when the guests are there they get a very warm hospitality. The madness is kept for the after parties.
indieBerlin: Tell us about the categories of the festival?
AS: We have 15 categories in total so I will focus o the special ones. There are 2 categories that are exclusive to the Berlin Music Video Awards, those are the “Most Trashy” and “Most Bizarre”, those categories are presented in the same day and on that day we also have the “Best Experimental” and “Best Low Budget” categories. So all together we call it the “Experimental Culture Day”. We ask people to follow a dress code of Freaky, Kinky & Bizarre and contribute to the atmosphere. On the first 2 days of the event we have more “elegant” categories like “Best Director” or “Best Cinematography”, we try to keep the program and the live shows “clean” on those days, ie no blood or nudity. And then of course we also have the “Best Song” category, this is the only category that rewards the song or track in first priority, before the video itself. We try to select to this category mostly unsigned underdog bands but it’s always nice to also push one or two out of 10 videos that are from more known bands, just to spice it up.
We want bands that bring something new to the stage or other edgy artists. Half of our guests come from abroad, we want to give them the Berlin that they asked for.
indieBerlin: Some of these can be shocking for the general public, how do people react to it ?
AS: People like the crazy shows! If a show is not moving you, why to perform at all? It’s a waste of time. I can also listen to music at home. We want bands that bring something new to the stage or other edgy artists. Half of our guests come from abroad, we want to give them the Berlin that they asked for.
indieBerlin: What is your favorite category?
AS: Well, it really depends on the videos no? Each year you have different category starring! if we get good videos for some category then it becomes my favorite for that year. This year, surprisingly my favorite is probably the “Best Narrative” or “Best Concept”, the videos over there this year are outstanding and both are going to take place on the opening day, 23rd of May).
indieBerlin: How do you choose the winner?
AS: We have 30 jury members that helps us with all the categories, usually there are 3 or 4 jury members to each category, they rank the videos and add comments to their votes and the favorite ones get to win. It’s not easy at all and many times the points of the videos are very similar. In the end, it’s very subjective and we just choose jury members that we trust to take their role very seriously, people with a good taste and great technical knowledge.
indieBerlin: If you had to choose one video since the start of the BMVA’s, which one would it be?
AS: It’s like asking a mother which child she loves more so no comment! I love them all.
indieBerlin: Are you excited about the 2018 edition? What craziness can we expect from this year?
AS: Yes, I am very excited! the day that I won’t be excited I will probably quit. I am very excited to see the live shows this year, I think we chose some fantastic shows and also the fashion show is going to be much fun on the last day! This year we will drive the winners to the event with a pink Cadillac from the 60’s. I can’t wait to see all those talented people at the event and of course, my favorite part every year is the winning moments! It’s so exciting to see people’s reaction, I am a fool for those cheesy moments!