808 (2015) SXSW Film Review

Kicking off my 2015 SXSW Film Festival experience on a high note, 808 was more than great it was a game changer. So I’m sure many of you readers out there are wondering how can a non controversial music documentary be a game changer?


Well that’s simple since the Roland 808 was a simple drum machine, in fact it was terrible because its sounds where inaccurate and its parts where so rare that it was only made for three years. It was a musical instrument for those without talent. But in spite of all those things it has become the stuff of legends, even successful music artists including David Guetta, Phil Collins and Dr Dre all use and even swear by this device. 808 is more than a documentary about this machine it’s a documentary about musical history, looking at the origins of hip hop, rnb, acid house, pop, rap and so much more. 808 is an instrument that has had a bigger affect on the music industry than the Beatles and Elvis put together. That may sound like a bold statement but it’s an accurate one. You will love this picture comprised of 55 interviews , some great footage and narration by none other than Zane Lowe.


According to the creative team behind this, the concept started as a drunken conversation as so many great ideas do and it just went from there. Both of the men behind the movie where at one point DJs and are still avid muisc lovers, there love of the music really transfers into the movie and their passion becomes our joy making this a truly worth while endeavour.

I’m someone who loves to consume data. I just love soaking it up but while watching 808 you will learn so much and its so effortless you don’t even notice it, the time will just fly by, for a documentary this is the highest praise. The interviews where just superb there where a few I think that where missed but the creators admit that they got what they could while they could, a three year work of art this labour of love is full of blood and passion maybe that’s why it’s so engrossing . The sheer variety of artists that are interviewed is astounding, in fact the only thing that will astound you more is how many songs use the 808, it’s truly terrifying that I went this long without knowing this . The way the interviews are conducted are in such an intimate way that you would think you yourself are there asking the questions. Particular highlights for me where the Beastie boys and their anecdotes. they where hilarious. Using Zane Lowe as the narrator was the perfect and obvious choice. To see the full list of interviewees please click here.

Even if your’e not a music buff or you hate documentaries I think this will still be a film that you can and will enjoy. It’s a piece of western culture with American, British and European influence, there is so much to take in but it’s all so good you will be better for it.


2015 SXSW Film Festival Screening:

The World Premiere for 808 was Friday, March 13th at 3.45pm at the Alamo Lamar A Theatre.

Running time: 106 mins approx.

Release dates: 808 will be showing next at Chicago’s Logan 1 Theater; tickets are $12 from CIMMfest without a festival pass.

For more information check their twitter @808themovie


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