Riffs and Reels participants celebrate their achievements at the Santikos Palladium. Credit: Courtesy / Marlene Mejia

Santikos Entertainment, San Antonio Sound Garden (SASG), and Alamo City Studios hosted the inaugural Riffs and Reels Music Video Showcase Tuesday, premiering nine music videos produced collaboratively by local bands and filmmakers.

The lively film festival-style event celebrated the convergence of two groups of Texas-based artists and featured an all-San Antonio lineup for its first year.

“The biggest thing is to highlight the talent that’s here,” said Noah Breeden, SASG’s marketing director and co-founder. “The energy you see when people are enjoying new bands and new directors is great. Partnering on Santikos’ level gives us great opportunities, and SASG can really be a conduit to encourage recognition of the music scene that most people don’t see.”

The collaborative atmosphere embodied the collective mission of the three organizations responsible for the show.

Santikos Entertainment hosted the event at the Palladium IMAX. The organization, under the direction of the San Antonio Area Foundation, often uses its movie theaters to host nonprofits and community events like Riffs and Reels.

“San Antonio has great untapped resources in its musicians and its filmmakers,” Santikos Entertainment CEO David Holmes said. “We wanted to give them a venue where their talent could be seen.”

SASG is a nonprofit aimed at developing San Antonio’s music industry. The organization provides space and equipment for local musicians and puts on events such as Las Raices: A Monthly Music Forum. By providing resources and exposure, the group hopes to grow San Antonio’s music economy and bring undeveloped talent to light.

“One of the biggest obstacles is that the community doesn’t always know what’s going on,” SASG President and founder Edwin Stephens said. “So, having a large section of the community come together and buy into the arts, that’s huge. We’re happy to be a part of the puzzle, to be giving artists the chance to do what they want to do.”

By partnering musicians with other local organizations and artists, Stephens said, SASG creates connections that unify the arts community, building the creative economy and setting up artists for independent success.

Alamo City Studios is a collaborative workspace that handles all aspects of film production, allowing local filmmakers access to all needed resources within the city. CEO Kerry Valderrama said that a a large part of the organization’s focus is on keeping homegrown artists from feeling that they have to leave San Antonio in order to move their career forward.

“Our mission is to build a larger film industry here in San Antonio,” Valderrama said.

The showcase was split into two rounds, each followed by a Q&A session with the bands and filmmakers, giving those involved a chance to reflect on the process and the festival’s implications.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to tell a story, and it’s a collaborative effort. It’s a fun process, trying to show the audience something they don’t expect,” said Sam Lerma, director of The Black Market Club’s “Falling,” which featured a humorous anti-texting and driving plot.

Fun and collaboration were common themes among artists’ commentaries, as was the focus on San Antonio.

“I recognized a lot of cultural landmarks like San Fernando Cathedral,” said Josiah Barrios, singer and guitarist for Sioux and Fox. “[An event like this] is able to bring together the different aspects of music, film, culture, and it’s able to bring the city together, [which] is a necessity for growth as a community.”

Many bands remarked on the spotlight these videos would place on their music, as well as the opportunities that could come from such exposure and collaboration.

After the two showings, awards were presented to the top three band/director duos. Third place went to the 13-piece “indie orquestra Latina” Volcán with their song “Las Aves,” directed by Alejandro DeHoyos, followed by indie rock quintet The Black Market Club and director Sam Lerma with “Falling.” Folk solo artist Josh Glenn Experiment and director Rod Guajardo took home the night’s top prize. Their video, “Make Believe,” featured expansive West Texas scenery and shots of Glenn performing and trekking through the wilderness.

Suggestions that Riffs and Reels would continue in the future came from the very start when host Sonny Melendrez introduced “the first in what we hope will be a national program.”

“San Antonio has always sort of been in Austin’s shadow,” Holmes said. “So this is really a showcase of what talent San Antonio has to offer, and the turnout is great. We really hope this could turn into something like South by Southwest for San Antonio. That’s really the vision.”

“Every musician and every director here is a winner just for having these high quality music videos to brand themselves online,” Stephens said. “It’s about building momentum and spreading their talent all over.”

For a full lineup of bands and directors, click here. 

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Tom Bugg

Tom Bugg is a San Antonio native and student of English at Colorado College.