What We Started – LA Film Festival Review

What We Started - Martin Garrix

Electronic dance music (EDM) is one of the biggest genres in music today. It’s so big that it’s beginning to cross over into many other musical genres as well. Yet as big as the genre is, the only EDM documentaries out there are those promoting a particular DJ. Among those are Swedish House Mafia’s Leave the World Behind, Zedd’s True Colors, and Daft Punk’s Daft Punk Unchained. But that’s all about to change as filmmakers Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi have come together to provide fans with the documentary that we deserve. But is What We Started the definitive documentary that EDM fans expect or does fans have to wait even longer for this type of film?

What We Started covers a wide array of subjects that chronicles the history of EDM. It is an in-depth look into EDM through the eyes and ears of the industry’s most influential people. This includes the film’s dual subjects: Carl Cox and Martin Garrix. It may have its flaws but it’s a fun dynamic ride through the history of EDM.

What We Started follows the history of electronic music. The film also follows the legacy of Carl Cox and meteoric rise of newcomer Martin Garrix.

What We Started - Carl Cox

You will learn a lot about electronic dance music in What We Started.

What We Started is one of the most definitive documentaries about the history of EDM. Granted, it is the only documentary chronicling EDM’s history but it’s probably the only one you’ll ever need to see. What We Started covers plenty of subjects ranging from its earliest beginnings to its mainstream present.

Among the varying subjects covered include the genre’s start in North America and the controversy around DJs simply hitting play during their sets. It really does cover a wide array of subjects. In fact, one of the most effective undercurrents in the film is the drug stigma surrounding EDM concerts, raves, and festivals. It’s the one thing that’s still prevalent at these events today and the one thing that almost killed the industry in the 90s.

One of the subjects of the film is British DJ, Carl Cox. Cox may not be a household name but make no mistake, he is a pioneer in the industry. The film follows his career all the way up to his final show at Space Ibiza. Because of his long career, his story is the most remarkable and heartbreaking. It’s also surprising to see actual video one of his many legendary 10-hour live sets. It’s this kind of performance that makes him such a legend in the industry.

At the same time, What We Started showcases Martin Garrix’s meteoric rise to stardom. He talks about how he began at such a young age. But even at the biggest moment of his career, we can see just how nervous he is. It’s the kind of in-depth look that makes the documentary so interesting.

What We Started - Martin Garrix and Carl Cox

What We Started is one of the most definitive documentaries about the history of EDM.

Intertwined with all the historical footage are interviews with some of the industry’s most influential people. Among them are Paul Oakenfold, Tiësto, Afrojack, Pasquale Rotella, and others. Some of the other people may be less familiar to new fans, but their insights are still informative. Although it would’ve been nice to see a bit more information on some of the other artists, their interviews are always insightful. For one thing, Afrojack has one of the best lines in the entire documentary. His breakdown of people’s perception of underground DJs is both funny and educational at the same time.

What We Started is a dynamically edited film, notably scenes filmed at various EDM festivals. Also, it helps that there are some head-bobbing EDM songs that play during these scenes. In fact, the cinematography and editing always work together nicely to imitate the energy at these events.

Yet one of the negative aspects of the documentary is its non-linear approach. It’s not really surprising considering the film is covering a lot of things. Not only do they cover the history of EDM but also Carl Cox and Martin Garrix’s careers as well. The documentary’s flow suffers as it goes from one subject to another.

Overall, you will learn a lot about electronic dance music in What We Started. The film covers a variety of subjects including some that you wouldn’t expect. Not only that but the stories about EDM’s past and future is a nice little touch. Although the non-linear approach to telling these three stories is odd, this is the type of film that all EDM enthusiasts should watch. Fans will definitely learn a lot from it as I did.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1159 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.