We’re living in a golden age of music, with an unprecedented level of entertainment at our fingertips. Amidst the unfathomable heap of music videos currently available across YouTube, there’s also some amazing cinematic gems which you can watch in full, for free. We cout down 10 of the best free music films you can check out right now.
Sean Dunne takes viewers on an inside view of the often mocked and misunderstood subculture of Juggalos. These hardcore Insane Clown Posse fans (who since 2011 have been considered a criminal gang by the FBI) come together from across the country once a year for 4 days at The Gathering of the Juggalos.
Focussing more on the participants than on the music itself, this eye-opening documentary pulls no punches, putting the spotlight on what exactly it means to be an American Juggalo. The picture painted is somewhat beautiful and tragic, painting a vivid picture of social outcasts finding a place within a society that has scorned them juxtaposed this with the sense of belongingness the subculture provides. The short documentary makes for some compelling viewing.
RIP: A Remix Manifesto
It seems appropriate that a documentary about copyright infringement in the 21st century should be distributed for free. Director Brett Gaylor filmed the piece over six years to highlight the legal grey area of remixing existing works. The film features appearances from , journalists, political activists and musicians including Gregg Gillis (better know as mashup maiestro Girl Talk). Canadian magazine Macleans described the film as “a dazzling frontal assault on how corporate culture is using copyright law to muzzle freedom of expression” and it certainly provokes thought about the direction of creative expression in years to come.
Oasis: Behind The Music
The band Oasis revolved around the brothers Gallagher who’s volatile relationship has been acted out in front of the press but before taking shots at one another they endure blows from an explosive and abusive father. The tabloids labeled them “rock’s baddest boys” and the members of Oasis set out to live up to their reputation, with the band’s two brawling brothers constantly in the spotlight. Oasis captured the music and imagination of an era and with the attitude came adulation from millions of fans from all over the world.
This is probably the best documentary about the Seattle grunge scene, filmed just a year after the death of Kurt Cobain. It’s pessimistic, funny and a great Gen X document, and the live footage is priceless even if most of the bands weren’t.
Pump Up The Volume – The History of House Music
This 2001 documentary takes viewers on a tour from the funky disco days of 70s New York, going in-depth into how house music was born, what it meant and how it evolved into a myriad of different genres and spread across the globe. We are shown locations of legendary clubs, record companies and shops, introduced to different ways of dj’ing, and get to see how advances in technology has influenced the music.
Sex Pistols – The filth and the fury
Class war, unemployment, a housing crisis, poverty, protests… sound familiar? Watching the opening of The Filth and the Fury (2000) can feel as if nothing has changed in the last forty years and in many ways, it hasn’t. The Julien Temple-directed classic shows how the Sex Pistols were born from the angst of their social context and how they shaped the decades to follow.
The legendary Studio 54 is probably the most famous nightclub of all time, a sophisticated, groundbreaking multi-media visual extravaganza. The heady mix of decadence and hedonism provided the framework that shaped a scene that endless clubs have tried to emulate since.
Lil’ Kim: Driven
We know that VH1’s sensationalist, snap-happy “Behind the Music” documentaries are totally trashy, but sometimes you need something with a little less substance. The short feature includes interviews with the Lil Kim’s friends and family all set to a backdrop of mid-nineties hip hop treasures including vintage footage of Biggie Smalls freestyling on the streets. Just think of it as the junk food of the music docs world.
Mac DeMarco – Pepperoni Playboy
This short documentary follows Mac in the studio and on tour in China. The documentary was put together by Demarco and other band members and is a good introduction to what the singer-songwriter is all about: essentially, making music and goofing around.
Released in 2001, Scratch takes us back to a time before everyone as an aspiring DJ, exploring the world of the hip-hop DJ. From the birth of hip-hop, when pioneering DJ’s began extending breaks on their party records (which helped inspire break dancing and rap), to the invention of scratching and beat-juggling vinyl, to its more recent explosion as a musical movement called turntablism, it’s a story of unknown underdogs and serious virtuosos who have radically changed the way we hear, play and create music.