Behind the scenes of the Ottawa Rock Lottery: Music doc latest focus of OIFF Spotlight Series

A still from the Ottawa Rock Lottery Documentary (Photo credit: The Indefinite Project)

Samantha Everts (blog/Twitter) is a writer, freelance journalist, event promoter and music lover. She’s also the driving force between the Ottawa Rock Lottery, a music-focused charity event that’s now the subject of a documentary that’s part of the Ottawa International Film Festival‘s ongoing Spotlight Series. Local film-making crew, The Indefinite Project, filmed the documentary in May 2011 and it will be presented Wednesday at 7 pm at the Mercury Lounge.

Outline for us what exactly the Ottawa Rock Lottery is. Where did the idea come from?
Basically, we throw 25 musicians names and pull five groups of five names, and they become a band. The groups then have 24 hours to create 20-30 minutes of original music to present the next day.  So the music could be great, or it could be awful!  We were lucky last year in that everyone got along great and the music was genuinely good, which works out well for the documentary. The idea originated in Denton, Texas in 1997 and since, they have sprung up all over North America.   Our motto is: “Why have a scene when you can have a community?”
The last Rock Lottery took place in May. What were the highlights of the event?

Highlights of the event would have to be seeing so many friendships and working relationships develop.  Several of the participating band members won the Live 88.5 Big Money Shot, too.  I’ve run into “bandmates” from the Rock Lottery at Bluesfest and they still have this rapport and respect. The amazing support we got from the local business and arts community via sponsorships was overwhelming but, most importantly, seeing the audience members enjoying themselves and get introduced to new music was great.  Plus we raised over $400 for the Ottawa Food Bank

A still from the Ottawa Rock Lottery Documentary (Photo credit: The Indefinite Project)

Tell us a little bit about how the Rock Lottery got involved with OIFF. What was the filming experience like?

I just wanted to put on a cool arts event that could connect the community that I so love and have been supported by for the last 9 years.  I never thought that  I would get to work with a  film festival or have a documentary of my project shot and be on the big screen. I was invited to host the OIFF’s Music Video Challenge as a representative of Rock Lotto last spring after they saw an article in a local newspaper.  I think the relationship has been that of further connecting the Ottawa film scene with the independent music scene — and it benefited both parties significantly.

I’ve actually got a degree in film studies and do whatever I can to support the independent arts scene, so when my friends in the Indefinite Project asked to make a documentary, I was all for it.  I was already in the process of arranging an independent screening when I found out about the OIFF Spotlight Series, and was set upon having the doc screened by them.  It’s been a few months of organizing to make it happen, but we’re all so excited for Wednesday night!  Again, I feel really blessed to have their support.

A still from the Ottawa Rock Lottery Documentary (Photo credit: The Indefinite Project)

Have you seen the doc? Any memorable moments to share?

I have indeed!  Since I am the organizer of the event, I was not involved in the filming. So I was just as surprised to see such candid moments caught in it, like the filmmakers breaking into a jam space because the musicians were practicing too loud, or the reaction to a drummer showing up hours late.  If you’re into music at all, watching some of the best in Ottawa trying to work together is a rare treat to begin with.  I’m in the process of completing grant applications and seeking corporate sponsorship for next year’s event, so it’s been very motivational to watch. Just come out to the watch the documentary and you’ll see.

Any plans for a future Rock Lottery? What would you do different the second time around, if anything?

Yes!  It will be held at the end of April 2012.  It will actually be the fourth time Ottawa will have one (we held events in 2008 and 2009, as well as May 2011).  It’s the money and grants that will determine how different it can be, and I can’t give away too many of the big plans, but it will be awesome.

Again, the Ottawa Rock Lottery is screening TOMORROW night at 7 pm at the Mercury Lounge. Tickets are $8 and the event will be hosted by CBC’s Alan Neal, with a performance by Amos the Transparent and a Q&A with the filmmakers.