DJ Colette

Here at Chicago magazine, we’re trying something new. Consider it a little “experiment,” if you will. We’ve decided to take a traditional story—a profile of the supercool DJ Colette, by the music writer Mark Guarino—and turn it into a short documentary film. Five years ago, this wasn’t the business of magazines. But today, magazines have two audiences: one for the print version, and one of for the Web. And for you Web folks, every sort of storytelling device—from podcasts to short films to blogs—is fair game.

Our first foray into film probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for two Ph. D. film students, E. Joong-eun “Ernie” Park and Michael Graziano. These guys are used to brainy side of film: Ernie’s dissertation research is on the aesthetics of “time-being” in the films of Yasujiro Ozu. Mike’s is on the historical, cultural, and theoretical implications of media technology. A mouthful, I know. But as you can imagine, studying film all the time leaves them a little, well, dry. So they keep the creative inkwell inky by doing documentaries on the side, under the name Uji Films.

For our first project together, they hung out for three days with DJ Colette, a bicoastal house DJ (and aspiring pop diva) whom we profiled in my arts and culture section in December. They tagged along to the magazine’s photo shoot, hung out with Colette at Smart Bar, and even went with her to the hairdresser. The resulting seven-and-a-half minute film is a quirky and touching day-in-the-life of a woman who spends much of her time on the road, entertaining the hipsters at night and trying to maintain a normal life (husband, laundry) in the day. I absolutely love how you see her moving around, doing her thing, even dropping her husband’s iPhone.

What do you think about our first real foray into video? We want to know, so we can figure out whether to do it again. Post your comments below. And to see the Uji guys’ other work, go to their Web site. Ernie’s next project, American Mythology, about a struggling musician, is going to be airing soon on the Documentary Channel.


Photograph: Katrina Wittkamp