Adam Yauch, the member of the Beastie Boys who died today at the age of 47, was known primarily for his achievements as a rapper and musical artist. But the man we call MCA also contributed a great deal to pop culture as a filmmaker.
Under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower, he directed several of the Beastie Boys music videos, including “Shake Your Rump,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin’” and “So What’cha Want.” He even jumped onstage in the guise of Hornblower at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards (see below) to protest the fact that fellow filmmaker Spike Jonze was passed over for his work on the Beasties’ video for “Sabotage.”
Outside of the music realm, Yauch opened up channels for independent filmmaking, co-founding the studio Oscilloscope Laboratories, which was responsible for releasing some of his own directorial efforts — see the basketball documentary “Gunnin’ for That # 1 Spot” and the crowd-sourced Beastie Boys concert film, “Awesome I ... Shot That!” — as well as movies like Kelly Reichardt’s “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” “The Messenger,” and the Academy Award-nominated documentaries “Burma VJ” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”
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The Wrap reports that, upon learning of Yauch’s death, Oscilloscope did a 180 on a planned shift in the company’s management. Now fellow founder David Fenkel — who yesterday had announced he was stepping down as president — will continue to run the studio.
“We are deeply, deeply saddened by the passing of Adam Yauch, an amazing leader, a dear friend and an incredible human being,” said a statement posted to Oscilloscope’s Web site. “Today we are heartbroken at Oscilloscope as we take in this awful news and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time,”
As many at Oscilloscope, in the film community and beyond mourn the loss of Yauch, let’s pay tribute to his achievements in film by looking at a few of the moving images he made possible.
His fish-eye lens-dominated video for “Shake Your Rump”:
Yauch/Hornblower’s “So What’cha Want”:
Robots, subway dancing, sci-fi goofiness and more fish-eye lenswork, in “Intergalactic”:
A trailer for “Wendy and Lucy,” one of the early Oscilloscope Laboratories features:
The trailer for Yauch’s “Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot”:
And finally, that 1994 VMA moment, in which Mr. Hornblower interrupted R.E.M.’s acceptance speech for the “Everybody Hurts” video. That’s right: Adam Yauch pulled a Kanye West on R.E.M. long before beastnye Kanye’d Taylor Swift.