Owner of LDO VIDEO and Treehouse Dreams Films, Les Owen has been involved with filmmaking for over 20 years, making marketing videos for companies in the Richmond and DC areas, as well as filming concert footage of The U.S. Army Band and other more alternative acts. After creating his own video production company in 2001, Owen became inspired when his son Steve’s band SILO EFFECT decided to enter the studio for their first professionally recorded album. Owen saw immense opportunity to document this transition in the band’s career, so he set out to film his first ever music documentary. In the process, he learned valuable insight about how indie film and indie music genres cross over and the roles they could play in the local music scene.

How did you get started making your own films and documentaries?

In 1989 I started working with a small video production company, but it wasn’t until 2005 when digital video technology became available to the public that I decided to do something with it as a career. I used to play in The U.S. Army Band, and I helped to create a video that would be played along with our performances. In 2001, the opportunity to be the Video Producer for The U.S. Army Band became available, so I traded in my instrument for a camera. After that, I started my own company and produced marketing videos for companies and performance videos for local bands.

Tell me about the documentary “The Treehouse Sessions”, which you filmed for your son Steve Owen’s band, SILO EFFECT. How did the idea for it come about?

Having been a musician my whole life, there were times where I wished my experiences could have been documented. My son Steve asked if I could film them in the studio, but it was my idea to turn it into a documentary. It was the first music documentary I had ever done, but I wanted to capture this unique turning point for the band. They were experiencing a new creative process with new technology in a new environment. No one knew how it would turn out, and the fact that the outcome was so unpredictable, I wanted to see how it played out. They had a plan, but they didn’t know if it would be successful.

In your opinion, how do the audiences for indie music and indie films cross over?

I think that audience has an appreciation for the underdogs that don’t have the financial support of an industry machine behind them. They are so committed to their craft that they will do whatever it takes to make it happen. The energy and originality is there, and I think that the people recognize the same mentality.

Are there any other local bands in Richmond or throughout the commonwealth working with other indie filmmakers that you are familiar with?

No I don’t. I don’t think that there is a strong enough connection locally, but both groups would benefit from interacting more. Filmmakers always need music, and there could be a mutually beneficial relationship between local filmmakers who use local musicians. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Have you worked with any other bands in the area?

I have worked with some band’s in the DC area, which is where I currently live, but not in Richmond, and that usually comes down to finances.

What are your rates for your services?

A lot of the time I weigh it based on the nature of the project, but if the band and I can come to an agreement on the creative aspect of it, and it’s something that I’m excited about, I will do everything that I can to make it happen.

Are there any other local bands from Virginia that you would like to work with?

NO BS! BRASS BAND would be fun.

Do you have any upcoming projects that are currently in production or post-production?

It’s not music related, but I am currently working on a documentary on World War II veterans that I traveled with to Europe revisiting old battlegrounds.

As a veteran filmmaker, do you have any advice you can offer to aspiring filmmakers and documentarians?

Actually I do. One of the toughest things about shooting a film is how much you have to do by yourself-from shooting to editing and writing to financing and conceptualizing. Out of everything, the creative process of coming up with new shots is the most fun. Once you nail a location, you tend to stop thinking, and the creative process takes a backseat to what is happening in the moment. That said, I think it is more beneficial to have someone else help make the creative process easier.

For more updates on Les Owen and his upcoming projects, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube and Vimeo channels. If your band is interested in working with Les, you can contact him at [email protected].

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