Both with and beyond the Beastie Boys, Adam "MCA" Yauch -- who died Friday (May 4) at the age of 47 -- made a name for himself in the world of documentary filmmaking, music videos and the business side of independent film.
Yauch personally produced three full-length films, "Awesome; I F---in' Shot That," a concert film shot by audience members at a 2004 Beastie Boys concert at Madison Square Garden; the high school basketball documentary "Gunnin' for That #1 Shot"; and the 1998 concert film "Free Tibet." He directed "Awesome" and "Gunnin'."
Yauch's first major project as a director was 1989's "Shake Your Rump" - which used the fish-eye lens approach he would often return to -- and he went on to direct many other clips for the group, including "So Whatcha Want," "Intergalactic," "Body Movin," "Ch-Check It Out" and others under the name Nathanial Hornblower. Last year he directed "Fight For Your Right Revisited," a half-hour video for "Make Some Noise" starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys and featuring Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
Yauch used the Hornblower alias frequently, as a video director, photographer for the cover of "Paul's Boutique" and package designer of "To the Five Boroughs." At the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, the "Swiss filmmaker" Hornblower interrupted R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe during an acceptance speech, shouting that Spike Jonze deserved to win for the Beasties' "Sabotage."
In 2008, Yauch created the company Oscilloscope Laboratories to acquire, produce and distribute independent movies. The company has been involved in more than 50 films, among them concert documentaries on LCD Soundsystem, Yossou N'dour and Le Tigre.
Yauch's stated mission with Oscilloscope was to model the film company on the independent record labels that surrounded him as a youth and in the early days of the Beastie Boys. The goal was to select and market films with the same artistic integrity with which they were made. The company also had an in-house DVD distribution arm, through which the acclaimed documentaries "Exit Through the Gift Shop" and Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze's "Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak" were released.
Yauch said he began thinking about launching a film company after attending the Sundance Film Festival as a fan in the late 1990s. At the time Yauch founded Oscilloscope -- using his own money -- Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. had folded indie operations into their larger corporate structures, leaving gaps for smaller films to reach theaters.
Yauch told the New York Times in 2008 that the company would exchange smaller advances to filmmakers for larger back-end profit participation, and to involve the filmmakers in marketing.
"What I really liked about indie record labels - the indie record labels that I liked, anyway - is that things were done in-house," he said. "I'm definitely one of those people that enjoys when individuals run businesses. I don't buy my coffee from Starbucks," he added with a laugh.
In recent months, the company acquired North American rights to the documentary "The Apple Pushers" about immigrant street vendors who bring fresh fruits and vegetables into poor neighborhoods of New York City and "Shut Up and Play the Hits," the documentary on the final days of LCD Soundsystem.
Oscilloscope Laboratories had three divisions - the distribution arm O-Scope Pictures, the production unit O-Scope Productions and a third area for music.
This week, Dan Berger and David Laub were promoted to cooperatively oversee marketing, distribution and acquisitions for the company, replacing company president and co-founder David Fenkel, who is moving into a consulting role. Berger and Laub worked at ThinkFilm, where they collaborated with Yauch on distributing "Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!" in 2006.
A statement from Yauch appeared in a Variety article announcing Fenkel's move, which published yesterday.
"Fenkel has been a great collaborator and friend," it read. "We will all miss him in his previous role, but I'm glad he will remain a part of O-Scope and I know we're both looking forward to seeing Dan and Laub kick some ass, nice-young-Jewish-boy style."
Oscilloscope will next release "Shut Up and Play the Hits," "Samsara," and Todd Louiso's "Hello I Must Be Going."
As a film fan, Yauch put together a top 10 list for the Criterion Collection when they issued the DVD "The Beastie Boys Video Anthology." Like his company, the list displayed the wide range of his tastes.