NO CAMERAS ALLOWED Review
When I first got the invite to attend the premiere of No Cameras Allowed at the Wiltern (a great venue in Los Angeles), a collaboration between Live Nation and MTV, I was definitely more excited than usual. A kid who hacks his way into music festivals in order to take epic photo and video coverage of the event – that’s right up my alley (although I’ve never snuck in anywhere, I’ve definitely side-slung my DSLR to bypass lines and found some rather creative ways to attend events, naturally, free of charge). But, No Cameras Allowed is more than a how-to guide for photog wannabe’s. It’s a coming of age story. It’s an inspiring tale with a hard core side of following your dreams.
The premise behind the documentary is brilliant, albeit probably technically on the illegal side. The story follows the rise of USC film student, Marcus Haney, as he goes from gate-crasher to legitimized photographer. Along with watching how Haney finds a way to stand out in an over-saturated field, viewers go on a journey with him and his friends as they struggle to reconcile a number of unexpected twists and turns – not graduating college, a life-altering accident, being incommunicado on the road, etc.
Since Haney didn’t come up with the idea for the project when he initially began sneaking into some of the largest music festivals in the country – Coachella, Bonnaroo, etc. – and later worldwide, there were big chunks of coverage missing during the development stage. Instead of recreating the beginning of the story, the filmmakers used a creative alternative to ‘realistic reenacting’ and chose to animate this portion of the film. The quirky animations were spliced in with actual footage shot during the festivals and interviews with Haney and his friends/co-conspirators.
It would be irresponsible to not mention that by MTV picking up distribution of this documentary there’s a certain sense that this film is glorifying Haney’s illicit behavior. I don’t necessarily agree with that, since Haney sneaking into festivals doesn’t really seem like the point of this venture, but it’s clearly something that the network is going to have to defend to certain outlets. If being successful was as easy as trespassing and catching a lucky break, everyone would do it. Haney, despite his chosen means, put effort behind making his goals come true and has come out on top.
Not only does No Cameras Allowed have several awesome backdrops throughout the film – from music festivals, to the desert, to the infamous ‘Running of the Bulls’ in Pamploma, Spain – but without being captain obvious, there’s also great music. Haney scores a spot on the Railroad Revival Tour with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Old Crow Medicine Show; the first two are heavily featured throughout the documentary. There’s also dozens of other artists thrown in, including Young The Giant who performed following the premiere.
No Cameras Allowed has no official premiere date at the moment, but will eventually be airing on MTV in multiple parts. If you get a chance to check out No Cameras Allowed, don’t pass up the opportunity. This is a film for a generation that needs another reason to be inspired.