Moon Mountain Sessions: An interview with Benjamin Caldwell on one-shot live music videos
Moon Mountain Sessions is a one shot ‘takeaway show’ captured by Benjamin James Caldwell all over the world. Mojo Junction was lucky to have 5 minutes with the film-maker this month to hear about his process. Below, we also feature a selection of his favourite Moon Mountain Session videos.
1. You are a traveling performing musician yourself, what inspired you to start documenting live tracks this way?
Film was something I always loved making. As a younger man I had done it as a full time job, however with time my passion waned, and I quit. A couple years passed I moved to Canada and began playing music full time, though I found it difficult to get a decent video made. And thus out of necessity Moon Mountain Sessions was born.
2. What is the funniest thing that has happened on a shoot?
I’m not sure if it was funny or sad but on a recent shoot with Scott Cook (which hasn’t gone up yet) we had hiked up to an abandoned quarry, and as we started filming a deluge commenced. It suited the song though, and being a one-shot take we powered through. As I watched my camera get absolutely soaked, all I prayed was that it kept going till the end of the song. It did and then died. We rushed home, I pulled the camera apart and buried it in rice. Two days later I turned it on—success!
3. Tell me about one of the favourite moments you captured.
There have been a lot. Maybe Melody Pool covering a Marlon Williams song. You don’t know he is there till the harmony kicks in. The element of surprise works well there.
4. You have spent many years in Canada, why do you think the bond between Canadian and Australian musicians is so potent?
I’m not sure it’s just musically based. Australians and Canadians share an affinity—being Commonwealth countries helps. There is also the aspect of ‘the grass being greener on the other side’. The climate is opposite but the culture is fairly close.
5. Do you know what’s coming up next on Moon Mountain Sessions, or is it more of an impro type thing?
I have a few uploaded and ready to share, also I have a few filmed that I need to edit. It’s more improvisational though. While touring with my own music around the world, if I come across someone I like musically and personally then I make it happen. I get approached or emailed a lot to shoot for people, but I’m more about doing it organically. What I really dislike are labels and managers approaching me then being extremely picky about how it’s released. I’ve learned my lessons there. I figure it’s a union between myself and the artist, so I do it on our terms.
Ari Neufeld, ‘Breathe Love’
Scott Cook, ‘Pass It Along’
Matthew Colin, ‘Trigger’
Caitlin Harnett, ‘Wandering man’
You can subscribe and explore all of Moon Mountain Sessions videos on YouTube
Interview by Aurora Jane