Beastie Boy Adam Yauch was also a force in film world
Beastie Boys co-founder Adam Yauch has died of cancer at age 47. Yauch is best known for his music career, as the New York hip-hop trio's vocalist and bassist, MCA. But in the last years of his life, Yauch focused his artistic attention on the world of film, as co-founder of Oscilloscope Pictures.
In 2008, Yauch founded Oscilloscope with ThinkFilm Vice President David Fenkel, and the company quickly made its mark by snatching up unusual festival titles such as the Oscar-nominated 2009 Woody Harrelson drama "The Messenger," the 2010 Michelle Williams Oregon trail yarn "Meek's Cutoff" and the 2011 Tilda Swinton maternal horror story "We Need to Talk About Kevin."
Yauch also directed many Beastie Boys videos and a 2006 concert film, "Awesome I ... Shot That" under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower; the movie played at the Sundance Film Festival. He helmed a 2008 documentary, "Gunnin' for That #1 Spot," about a group of top high school basketball players.
In a 2008 interview with the L.A. Times, Yauch recalled the idea for the basketball film came to him as he was sitting on the sideline of a pickup basketball game with a friend, Kris Stone.
"He started telling me about this all-star high school basketball game he was organizing. He then asked about how to document it, so I started throwing out suggestions. And I guess between his enthusiasm and me thinking about my own ideas, I thought, 'I want to do it.' "
"Gunnin'," which was favorably compared to the 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams," followed eight of the country's best high school players as they prepared to compete with 16 other top-ranked prep school standouts in the first Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic. Unlike other all-star games, the Elite 24 didn't choose its participants by grade level or shoe affiliation.
The first part of the film consists of hometown interviews with the chosen eight — including sure-to-be upcoming NBA lottery picks Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Jerryd Bayless — and their inner circles of family, friends and coaches. The second half follows the game itself, which took place in 2006 at Harlem's Holcombe Rucker Park. Known for being a mecca of street basketball, Rucker has seen the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Kobe Bryant (not to mention other pro legends) grace its asphalt.
"I get bored with organized basketball," said Yauch, a Brooklyn native who considered himself a fair-weather Knicks fan. "I like the anarchy of street ball; just a bunch of guys going for theirs."
Yauch returned to Sundance in 2011 with a short film, "Fight for Your Right Revisited."
Yauch directed the 20-minute movie as a kind of bizarro companion piece to the Beasties' smash 1986 frat boy anthem "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)." The film follows actors impersonating the group in period-perfect costumes in the denouement to the wild party depicted in the video. Seth Rogen portrayed the Beasties' Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Elijah Wood embodied Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and a trash-talking Danny McBride channeled '80s-era Yauch via a four-day growth of beard and sleazy leather jacket.
Upcoming Oscilloscope releases include the 2012 Sundance Film Festival opening night title, “Hello I Must Be Going,” the love story “28 Hotel Rooms" and a documentary about dance-punk band LCD Soundsystem, “Shut Up and Play the Hits.”
On Thursday, it was reported that Fenkel would step down as president of Oscilloscope and move into a consulting role; executives Dan Berger and David Laub were promoted to oversee marketing, distribution and acquisitions.
— Rebecca Keegan
Photo: Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January 2006. Credit: Mark Mainz/Getty Images.