Aspen Shortsfest: ‘Mixtape Marauders,’ a love letter to music nerd-dom

Peter McNally and Ian Edlund in "Mixtape Marauders." The film has its world premiere on Wednesday at Aspen Shortsfest in the Wheeler Opera House.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: ‘Mixtape Marauders’ at Aspen Shortsfest, Program Three

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Wednesday, April 5, 8:30 p.m.

How much: $20/general admission; $15/Aspen Film members

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;

More info: The program will include five short films. It will be followed by a filmmaker Q &A. ‘Mixtape Marauders’ will also screen Saturday at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale.

Making a good mixtape, for a certain kind of music lover, is an indispensible tool for courtship, friendship and self-expression. Anybody who has ever made a tape or CD or playlist for somebody they care about will fall for “Mixtape Marauders,” a smart and sweet love letter to music nerd-dom that gets its world premiere today at Aspen Shortsfest.

The 17-minute short film is the brainchild of two young music-mad brothers, Peter and Ian Edlund. The comedy follows two kids in Nowheresville, Washington, driving around, smoking pot and talking music. Tackling the subject matter did not take a huge leap of imagination for the talented brothers.

“I wanted to justify the good year and a half to two years in my life when I did nothing but smoke weed and drive around Stanwood,” Peter Edlund said with a laugh, referring to his hometown of Stanwood, Washington, where most of “Mixtape Marauders” was filmed. “By making this film, I felt like I could say, ‘Well, that was a formative period that led to this artistic endeavor and justifies my wasting a large portion of my youth.’”

The Edlunds came of age after the heyday of the mixtape and the mix CD — writer-director Peter is 27, co-writer and star Ian is 22 — but still made them with meticulous passion. Like the characters in “Mixtape Marauders,” their pursuit of the perfect mixtape was a fringe one (as one girl memorably mocks the characters in the film: “Mix CDs? That’s not the move, man!”). Ian recalled a girlfriend rejecting his painstakingly made CD mix in high school, asking instead for a ZIP drive of MP3 files: “I was like, ‘No! I need to you take the physical CD!’ And she was like, ‘Why?’ And I couldn’t explain it.”

What undergirds the art of the mixtape for the Edlunds is a love for music, a desire to share it, a steadfast belief in one’s own taste and a battle-ready willingness to defend it.

“We have similar tastes in a lot of ways, but where our opinions diverge, they really violently diverge,” Peter said. “We’ve had a lot of useless and ridiculous conversations in that regard.”

He was inspired to make the film after visiting Ian at Fordham University, and seeing the hilarious way that Ian bantered and battled with his roommate — and “Mixtape Marauders” co-star — Peter McNally.

The movie itself functions as a sort of visual mixtape, using the quirky juxtapositions of style and emotion — the clash between silly, serious and sweet — that mark the best curated mixes of songs. (The film squeezes a killer nine-song soundtrack into its brief running time.)

The brothers have been collaborating since they were kids, when Peter took an interest in filmmaking and Ian in acting. Because “Mixtape Marauders” hewed so closely to their personal experiences, they wrote it together. Peter guided his brother into screenwriting with what sounds like some light hazing. For a scene where his character launches into an extended monologue about the merits and mixtape usage of Usher’s “Climax,” Peter gave his brother an assignment.

“Peter was like, ‘All right, I want you to sit and listen to Usher’s “Climax” for an hour and write as much as you can about the song,’” Ian recalled from New York, where he’s playing Camillo in a Fordham production of Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” this week as “Mixtape Marauders” premieres in Aspen. “So I just sat and wrote pages and pages and pages and fashioned that into a monologue.”

As Ian finishes college, Peter is now setting his sights on making his feature-film debut. He and producer Megan Leonard are exploring the possibility of making a feature following the “Mixtape Marauders” characters on a new adventure and also looking at a “micro-budget” full-length movie.

“I love feature filmmaking,” he said. “Even in this age of television, that’s the medium that really speaks to me.”


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