The Tallgrass Film Festival needed bold, breakthrough creative to mark a major milestone: 20 years of Stubborn Independence. Our team, a longtime fest supporter, was both happy and honored to supply it. Working with the fabulous Melanie Addington (has a director ever so quickly and completely captured a community’s heart?) and her dedicated crew, we reached back in time to find inspiration from the alternative fashions and amped-up sounds of punk.

Nonconformists Unite

I was a restless, rebellious art student at Wichita State University when punk rocked my world. I attended a concert like nothing I’d ever experienced. The Embarrassment shredded preconceptions. Its lanky musicians raged and railed against conformity and the status quo. They threw food at us. And we hurled it right back. My life changed even more by meeting and becoming friends with the four guys in the band: Brent Woody Giessmann, Bill Goffrier, Ron Klaus and John Nichols. I hacked off my waist-length hair and dyed it red, never returning to my country-rock days. 

My best friend and I became the self-appointed creative team art directing and producing a couple of music videos. The band members proved to be fun actors and showmen, coming up with quirky moves while filming on Belmont Street with their ’64, paneled station wagon. Game for anything, we captured the spirit of the times with the video we created for the song, “Elizabeth Montgomery’s Face.”  We were young, wild rebels with a new sound and electric energy. Their concerts were frenetic art pieces of defiance, slam dancing and pure talent. 

A documentary that has been in the works to celebrate The Embarrassment will debut at the Tallgrass Festival’s Friday night gala. I loaned my footage to the filmmakers, and my husband and fellow rebel, Chris Brunner, and I were interviewed for the doc. When Melanie attended my WAM Art Chatter last fall and discovered my connection with the band, she immediately landed on the punk theme highlighting this amazing time in Wichita’s history.

Freedom to See and Do Something New

The Embarrassment’s song, “Drive Me to the Park” from their “Death Travels West” album gets new life as the soundtrack for our festival creative’s motion graphics. Spinning film reels fill the eyes of an angular, teeth-baring Elvis Costello-like figure. Gritty textures leverage the fest’s branded color palette of black, indigo, fuchsia, orange and gold.

The Embarrassment’s driving indie rock – or blister pop – creates a smart, energetic background that makes you want to shed the old and shake things up with new ideas, fresh visions and unexpected revelations. Exactly what the festival delivers. It doesn’t just claim to be Stubbornly Independent. It is.

Let’s Rattle Some Brains

You can find the creative on everything from posters and wearables to billboards and the website. You can also go online to submit your film, become a volunteer or simply save the date for the 20th annual Tallgrass Film Festival, Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in downtown Wichita.