Internationally known as 'The Live Music Capital of the World,' Austin's music culture has led it to become one of the world's most sought-after destinations. As nearly two dozen high-rises pop up throughout the city amidst economic downfall, how does the working musician get along? This lyrical documentary provides a telescopic view into the lives of Austin's vibrant young musicians as they grapple with questions of artistic integrity, commercialism, experimentation, and the future of their beloved city. Directed by Nathan Christ and photographed by Robert Garza, Echotone is a cultural portrait of the modern American city examined through the lyrics and lens of its creative class.
There is rising star soul revivalist Black Joe Lewis selling out concert halls by night and delivering fish by day. There's Cari Palazzolo of synth pop sensation Belaire, poised for commercial success, but conflicted over the thought of her music turning into a commodity. Then there is experimental troubadour Bill Baird, whose band Sound Team enjoyed a major label deal with Capitol Records and were subsequently dropped after one album. Interweaving the tales of these young artists to form a mosaic illustrating the universal struggle many contemporary fringe cultures are experiencing, Echotone is a modern parable on integrity set against the back drop of a global economic, political, and cultural paradigm shift.
Nathan’s creative life is defined by the breadth of his interests and obsessions. His most prominent work casts his lens on the struggles for expression and freedom among independent cultures. Whether his subjects are exonerated death row inmates, independent working musicians, or young, broke American travelers adrift in the Muslim world, Nathan thrives on the fringe.
His work as director, photographer, and writer has taken him throughout the United States and Mexico. One of his current projects is a large creative endeavor featuring a novel-length memoir called Migrations and an accompanying film. Both of these endeavors are based on his bohemian travels from Holland to West Africa in a Volkswagen van. The project has generated much interest among New York-based literary agencies and is awaiting the next stage of editing.
Echotone is Nathan’s first feature film.
Robert graduated from the film school at UT Austin in cinematography. He’s had the opportunity to shoot in many exotic locations, including the ruined Mexican village of Guerrero Viejo, a town originally founded in 1750. Months after Hurricane Katrina he ventured into New Orleans as part of a small crew to help document the destruction, the fumbling reconstruction efforts, and the part music was playing in rebuilding and rejuvenating the spirit of the city. He currently freelances in various capacities, primarily as a cinematographer and camera focus puller. This is Mr. Garza's first feature.
Known in some circles as “the Spartan” Justin Gilley keeps the trains running and on time in any production environment. Gilley co-founded Reversal Films in April 2007 alongside producing partners Nicholas Jayanty and Victor Moyers. His past work includes an array of commercials, events, short films and features that form the core of his expertise in production legal, operations and management. His most recent work includes the Official Sundance 2010 Selection Skateland, and Nathan Christ’s Echotone, in addition to his responsibilities as the Chief Operating Officer for Reversal Films.
A Texas native, Gilley graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and has been producing since 2002. Gilley’s future projects include Reversal Films’ upcoming narrative micro-slate, the Sustainable Cinema Initiative and the transmedia franchise, The Independent Culture Project.
The Hindi word ‘Jayanty’ translated literally means ‘the happening.’ As the producer responsible for building a marketing and distribution team equipped to understand and connect with the passions and sensitivities of a rabidly independent culture, ‘making it happen’ is part of Jayanty’s every day. Echotone is Nicholas’ latest effort to building a platform engineered to develop, produce and promote culturally significant work by indie artists marginalized by the mainstream media machine.
His most recent work includes Skateland (Sundance 2010 Official Selection, US Dramatic Competition SXSW Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival). Nicholas co-founded Reversal Films with his partners in 2007 and as Chief Marketing Officer oversees all company and project specific marketing and business development initiatives including the ATX Events series, a bi-annual music and film showcase in Austin, and the brand integration firm, The Dark Agency. Jayanty’s future projects include Reversal Films’ upcoming narrative micro-slate, the Sustainable Cinema Initiative and the transmedia franchise, The Independent Culture Project.
A native Texan, Jayanty is a bit of a human ping pong ball as of late, with crash pads on all coasts, he pays rent and taxes to the City of New York. His alter ego ideahed directs music videos, maintains a blog entitled Mic Control, and can be found across the blog-o-tweet-o-book-of-face-o-sphere.
After a string of successful and highly regarded short films, in 2006 Victor was contracted to develop, package, and represent Director René Pinnell’s TV pilot The Edmond Bulldogs. Teamed with Nicholas Jayanty to package the project for sale, they brokered MTV Networks financing for a pilot.
In 2006 Victor concurrently produced Mississippi Chicken with Director John Fiege, which world premiered at Miami International Film Festival in March 2007, premiered in New York at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival, and in Monterrey, Mexico at the United Nations’ Universal Forum of Cultures. In late 2007 the film was nominated for an IFP Gotham Award in N.Y., and screened to sold out audiences at MOMA. In early 2007 Victor and his partners founded Reversal Films, and in mid-2007 he founded the Integrated Media Community (IMC), an association of media entrepreneurs working together in a single environment to incubate cross-platform business concepts.
In mid-2008 Victor embarked on his follow up to Misssissippi Chicken with Echotone, which he developed conceptually with Director Nathan Christ and Producer Nicholas Jayanty. Between 2008-2010 Victor concurrently produced Skateland, which premiered in competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Prior to producing media, he studied music for ten years, training and competing as a vocalist for nearly 8.
Victor continues to nurture his musical skills by working as a producer for musicians, and also produces and manages two major music events in Austin each year with his partners at Reversal Films. Before immersing himself in creative producing, Victor studied philosophy and literature, roamed extensively, and lived in Haiti, Bolivia, Honduras, and California.
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Daniel Perlaky is a producer, communicator, and designer based in Austin, TX, who is primarily interested in exploring sustainability and authenticity through media connectivity, humanized technology, and smart curation.
He is the multimedia producer on the Switch Energy Project at Arcos Films, an award-winning film production house, where he leads the development of a video-driven energy resource and education website.
He is also the creative director at Tugg, Inc., a company launching during SXSW 2012 that has been featured in major film and technology press as a revolutionary film distribution platform.
He has spoken on communication and design topics at universities and conferences, including SXSW, and has been featured in a wide-range of publications and media outlets.
He has co-produced and art directed Echotone, a New York Times critics' pick documentary, and was formerly the senior art director and strategist at Creative Suitcase, an award-winning print and interactive firm.
He is the founder of City On Fire, a multidisciplinary communications studio through which he designs and consults for arts and nonprofit organizations, produces events with national artists, operates Indierect Records, and co-produces Bleach, an arts and culture magazine.