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Mobley Directs A Home Unfamiliar, a Film by 30 Austin Musicians and Filmmakers

The project was conceived during the pandemic and benefits our community

An artist’s creative spark can come from any number of sources. Sometimes, it comes from an inspiration – or a challenge – by another artist.

During the pandemic, Austin-based musician Mobley saw a creative opportunity and enlisted 30 other artists to turn his idea into a reality. With self-quarantine bringing much of Austin’s creative work to a halt, he directed a radically collaborative film between the team of musicians and filmmakers to create a visual album that captures the beauty and bizarre unease of isolation in Austin during the month of April.

Watch the trailer for “A Home Unfamiliar” to see all the artists involved in the project.

Assigning each of the filmmakers a piece of original music by one of the 15 musicians, Mobley provided only minimal guidelines for the project: the last five to ten seconds of the clip that preceded theirs, and the prompt “a home unfamiliar.” They had 48 hours to film and finish their piece. Artists had no contact with anyone else on the project except for Mobley, who discouraged any guesses as to who the other filmmakers might be.

“The biggest thing I wanted to do was to bring the artists together to impact the community,” Mobley says. “Artists aren’t often looked at as being essential.”

One way to prove otherwise was to create an undeniably ambitious work, make it available with a donation and give proceeds to the community.

Lesser known artists were put on an equally unsure footing as the more widely recognized names, so that all were able to create their work free from any expectation – even of what the final product would look like.

Filmmaker Sarah Jones’ in-motion collage accompanies Bright Light Social Hour’s section of “A Home Unfamiliar.”

“It could have been an interesting train wreck, it could have been a fantastic collision,” Mobley says. “But everybody really stepped up and I think inspiration hit us at the same and right time.”

 Knowing that their efforts were going to a cause bigger than themselves only helped fuel the filmmakers’ creativity. For Mobley, the result felt more like a “high-wire act than a train wreck.”

The idea of home turns into a collective reminiscence of how the comfortable intermingles with the jarring, helping viewers process the more bizarre aspects of the present reality. The visuals vary widely, but the blurry line between the beginning and end of each segment echoes the question on most minds these days: What’s next?

Photo by Andrew Bennett.

After filming wrapped in April, Mobley spent the month of May researching and vetting possible charities. The Central Texas Food Bank and the DAWA Fund, organizations that provide a direct, no-nonsense impact on the community, were selected.

The release date was originally set for June but was pushed back as to not take any attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement. Viewers can donate and view the film here through the Alamo Drafthouse On Demand service.

Watch the trailer for “A Home Unfamiliar” to see all the artists involved in the project, and check out Mobley’s new song “Jim Crow” and Foster the People’s recent rework of Mobley’s “Nobody’s Favorite.”

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