Opening minds with open mic

Brandon Green and Jesse Weidenfeld have a vision. It involves a film crew, a road trip and a great deal of enthusiasm for revolutionizing the open mic scene. This journey will be completely documented, resulting in "Open Mic: The Movie."

Typically, an open mic (pronounced mike) is a stationary event held at a designated venue where artists may sign up for allotted time slots in which to perform music or read poetry. It's considered an excellent setting for artists to try out new material, and everyone is welcome as either a performer or an audience member. Lower Queen Anne residents Green and Weidenfeld are fans of this tried-and-true scene and will use it as a point of departure-literally.

The guys and their film crew are planning to take the open mic scene on the road. "We're like a vessel," Green says, "carrying this journey to people, to help them come up as artists [and] musicians."

The pair are working on procuring an Airporter, or other vanlike vehicle (to be painted by a local artist), which they will drive through Washington, Oregon and California.

Mainly they'll look for places to set up impromptu open mics, hoping to attract artists eager to display their talents in a spontaneous and supportive environment. They especially hope to meet people who cannot or do not attend open mics-hence their plans to visit unorthodox sites such as bowling alleys, jails, senior homes, schools and beaches.

Not only will the guys film these artists, they will capture the performance audio and transfer it to CDs. "These artists' songs will be our soundtrack," Weidenfeld says.

"We're not the kings of the open mic scene," Green says. "We don't go to all of 'em. But we're just taking a concept and expanding on it... something simple and powerful.

"Basically the idea is to take [the open mic] out of caf├ęs and bars and into new elements," he adds. "It's more of a celebration of human connection, and that's initially where the idea came from: helping out people, connecting with people, uplifting people."

"We're going to bring it to people who aren't expecting it," Weidenfeld says. "All of a sudden we just show up... and hopefully it's enjoyable for everybody. Which I think it will be."

"Open Mic: The Movie" has been germinating since their childhoods. The two attended the First Communion of another boy when they were ages 4 and 5, respectively. Over the years a friendship developed, and both boys found performing and filming to be an exhilarating recreational activity.

Green still possesses film depicting some of these early performances. "I've got a bunch of random footage of us doing Pearl Jam songs, or Cheech and Chong bits. Yeah, it's a little embarrassing! But [performing has always] been in our nature; that's our own chemistry that we share, that any artists share with each other. We have that."

These days the guys know how to find an audience. A couple of years ago, in May, they were home listening to music and infusing themselves with the spirit of Folklife, which was starting the next day. "We opened our windows and we were singing, and there was a crowd of people watching and listening," Green says.

"People were surprised, and also diggin' it," says Weidenfeld. "A lot of smiles and waves."

The guys want to expand on this idea, encouraging others to join in. For example, when staying at motels or inns, they'll distribute flyers to the locals instructing them to show up in the parking lot at a given time of day. "And there we'll be, doing an open mic through our window!"

"Open Mic: The Movie" is largely about spontaneity and opportunity. It's also driven by Green and Weisenfeld's strong desire to connect with people. An important goal of theirs is to bring together artists who wouldn't meet otherwise. By documenting these interactions, they hope to create common and widespread connections.

"We want to [create] not only a human connection for people watching the film, but [have] people making connections with artists," Weidenfeld says. "There's so much good talent out there-street performers, people selling their paintings on the sidewalk. Maybe people in senior centers or schools [who have] artistic talents to share. It's just all good stuff, and we want to document that. Hey, every road has a song, and we're just providing the mic."

"OMTM"'s format, while largely spontaneous, also relies on some planning. The pair have an arsenal of "bits." Green believes the element of surprise works best; so aside from mentioning "The Lyric Bin," he isn't elaborating.

The film project will culminate in the vicinity of San Francisco. "See," Green says, "we're from the Bay Area, and I've said to [Jesse] from the beginning, when we go to San Francisco there's going to be some kind of magical thing for both of us. We're hoping to bring our friends and new [friends] together and create a free-thinking event that celebrates our gratitude for them and our journey."

"It's a homecoming," Weidenfeld adds.

They and the film crew will begin wending their way south by midsummer, with the expectation of being on the road for at least two months. They encourage you to keep an eye out for their beautifully painted Airporter.

They also welcome all questions about their project. E-mail them at omthemovie-@gmail.com at or visit www.myspace.com/omtm.[[In-content Ad]]