Afterhours Sessions is an Iowa City-based video production company led by Ben Handler. With nearly 70 stripped-down and intimate videos under their belt, and more being posted all the time, their La Blogotheque-style has gained quite a bit of momentum. Beginning with a focus on smaller local bands, Afterhours has since made impromptu music videos for established indie groups like Tilly and the Wall, PHOX, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
During this year’s Mission Creek, which marked the project’s first anniversary, Afterhours filmed sessions with Golden Birds, Brian Johannesen and Caroline Smith, the latest of which was filmed at White Rabbit and released on June 2.
Ben Handler took some time away from filming to answer a few questions on the origins of Afterhours and his intentions behind the project.
Little Village: When did you start filming musicians? What gave you the inspiration?
Ben Handler: Afterhours Sessions started [during] Mission Creek 2013. I had been tossing around the idea in my head for a few months prior, and finally the opportunity fell in my lap after a show by one of my favorite local bands at the time, No Coast. Our sessions are heavily inspired by La Blogotheque’s “Take Away Shows.” I loved what they were able to do with just one camera, without any scripting or edits. It was so simple. Such a pure a form of cinematographic expression.
I shot the dudes at La Blogotheque an e-mail with a link to my first session asking for advice. I was expecting them to tell me off, but they were so helpful. They told me how to improve the sound, how to get that elusive “pro-level” audio. They pushed me to keep working towards mastering my craft. We’ve been filming ever since, releasing a session with a new artist almost every week and getting better and better at creating captivating film in the process.
What has been your favorite session so far?
Hard to choose! Each session has a story behind it, and each story has proved a unique learning experience for me. The sessions I come back to again and again are: PHOX, Bailiff and ish.
Which musician would you most want to film in the future?
This project has first and foremost about film the bands that I love to listen to. I’ve discovered a ton of amazing artists through Afterhours, and the list just keeps growing. Filming Caroline Smith was a big one for me. I saw her at Mission Creek a few years ago so it was only fitting we’d get to film her at Mission Creek 2014. I’ve got a long list of bands I’d love to work with. A few front-runners: Geographer, Blind Pilot and Moving Mountains.
Any videos in the works we can look forward to?
For those not in the know, we went on tour last Winter and filmed a bunch of absolutely stellar bands across the southern United States. We’re releasing new sessions every week from acts like John Moreland, Ings and Onward Etc. If they haven’t heard of these bands yet, come check them out! You may just hear your new favorite act!