Published Jan 01, 2006"It's very difficult to translate the rave experience," admits first-time writer/director Greg Harrison. "It's inherently not plot-oriented ? the experience, at its core, is non-intellectual. It's visceral, internal, often made up of being in the moment, and it's very difficult to translate into a filmic language and structure." For his San Francisco rave document Groove, Harrison has turned to the classic structure of other generational flicks like American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused: the action takes place over a single night, and follows an ensemble of characters who each represent aspects of the scene.
Like those films, which took a nostalgic look at an earlier generation, Groove is based in Harrison's own experiences in the mid-90s San Francisco scene. "It was an attempt to capture what was important to me in that time," he explains. "To put a human face on an often marginalised subculture and think about what was universal and human about the experience."
Despite the fact that the years-long filmmaking process is up against quite a fight putting such a constantly evolving music scene on screen, Groove's weaknesses are dramatic, not musical. With a couple of exceptions, many of the gathered (the nitrous-sniffing burnout, the nervous newbie, the den mother, the past-their-prime gay yuppies) are mere vehicles for Harrison's "raver truths." But his powerful skills as a film editor help make Groove one of the best merges of music and image so far.
"I see the DJ as a live editor, giving shape to an emotional experience for the audience. As the writer/director and editor, I was the DJ of the film, in a way. [This music] is a distillation of everything you're after when you're editing something, in terms of impact, emotion, excitement, drama, pace. It's so ironic, because so many people outside the scene see electronic music as very cold, unemotional, made by computers but its very goal is to evoke emotion. It's engineered for emotion. Everything you're after as an editor is found in abundance in electronic music."