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'With You' from Dirty South [Review]

by Photo of Paul Hansen

Famed DJ and producer Dirty South appears at a screening party in Los Angeles for his new film.

'With You' from Dirty South [Review]

In this article…

A screening party was held last Tuesday in Los Angeles for DJ and record producer Dirty South's new film and album With You. The viewing was held at the hip and intriguing Sonos Studio in Los Angeles. The space itself is engaging. Audience members are seated on a series of strategically placed wooden crates. The seating arrangement is inventive and works and added to the relaxed atmosphere of the event.

The screening party had a lot to celebrate. Upon the film’s release on iTunes on September 23 it reached number 1 in twelve countries, including the United States [Ed. Note - It's now number one in 15 countries]. With You, with a running length of about 40 minutes, centers on two teen lovers. The boy is injured in a car accident and the girl (who apparently is from another planet) is able to magically resuscitate him. After the girl disappears, the boy embarks on a multi-year odyssey to find her.

After the viewing, which was enthusiastically received by the invited audience, there was a Q & A with Dirty South (real name Dragan Roganovic) who comes across as very affable and articulate. He spoke about the genesis of the film, stating that while he was working on the album he “felt like I was hearing a soundtrack to a movie” and that the “music inspired the film.” The discussion of the development of With You in some ways reminded me of Disney’s iconic Fantasia, where the music itself determines the structure of the film, instead of the usual formula of the music following the drama.

Dirty South mentioned that this was the first movie that he directed and that the whole project consisted of managing a series of learning curves. He seems to enjoy challenges and said that while working on the project he was constantly asking himself, “What could I learn? How could I make this better?” He is clearly not content to rest on his DJ and music laurels, which include being Grammy nominated.

The film itself looks very polished and is well paced with consistently memorable imagery. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, and as I watched With You I was reminded of the power that visuals and music alone can have in pushing a story forcefully along. As a former film editing student, I was particularly impressed by the fluidity and finesse of the editing (done by the DJ) which was particularly notable for a first project.

The poignant young couple is played by Nathalie Kelley and Cameron Palatas. Fans of the Twilight series will probably particularly appreciate With You with its theme of teen love interlaced with a supernatural element.

Towards the close of the Q & A Dirty South mentioned that he doesn’t like to repeat himself artistically as he feels that it impedes his growth as an artist. He also mentioned the possibility of making a feature film in the future. From what I saw of his first cinematic effort, if he follows through on that idea there is a lot to look forward to.

For those who want to catch up with Dirty South in New York, he will be holding a similar screening party followed by a Q & A on October 8 as part of the CBGB Music and Film Festival. The screening will be held at the Landmark Sunshine Cinemas located at 143 E. Houston Street. The album With You will be released November 4.

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