Revolving around the events that saw 30 Seconds to Mars sued by their own record label back in 2008 for $30m., Artifact is one of the greatest music documentaries ever made, and an important documentary for our times.
The music industry has been struggling for the best part of a decade with technology developing at a faster rate than it can keep up with, and this documentary gives an honest, frank, and inside look at the antiquated system that bands are faced with when they’re attached to a major label.
Jared Leto lives in Los Angeles, but at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of his documentary Artifact, about his band 30 Seconds to Mars’s legal battle with their record label, EMI, last week, he was definitely on home field. Nearly everyone in attendance seemed to be a megafan; we spotted several women with pyramid tattoos symbolizing their devotion to an elite “family” of 30 Seconds to Mars fans known as the Echelon. When the frontman and sometimes-actor (Jordan Catelano!) told the crowd he would take questions from those who’d come from furthest afield, a woman next to us shouted, “I’m from Portugal!” Leto didn’t hear. Then he said he’d take questions from people from Toronto. “What about from Buffalo?!” shouted the same woman. By the end of the Q&A, after having not gotten picked, she had run to the stage and was throwing a scarf (a gift, presumably) at Leto and holding her hand over her heart telling him he didn’t know what he means to people. After that display, he probably does. And after Leto led the audience in a “Yes, we can” chant about voting for the film, it won the People’s Choice Award for best documentary, despite having debuted just three days before the end of the festival.
But the film, which Leto directed under his pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins, has a lot for non-fans, too, using EMI’s $30 million suit against the band for breach of contract as a launching point for talking about the fucked-up state of the music industry. Despite selling 3 million copies of their second album, A Beautiful Lie, the band — Leto on vocals and rhythm guitar, his brother Shannon on drums, and Tomo Milicevic on lead guitar and keys — found themselves more than a million dollars in debt to EMI having, they claim, never made a dime off any of the sales of their album, and they wanted out. Then, just as they were starting to make a documentary chronicling the making of their third album, EMI sued them, turning it into a documentary about them making an album in the face of a massive legal battle that might prevent the album from getting released. They eventually renegotiated with EMI, deciding that it was the only option. Jada Yuan spoke to Leto at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto just before he flew back to L.A. [SPOILERS ahead, though this is a documentary, so if you know the band’s history, you probably know what happens in the movie.]
Thirty Seconds To Mars are excited to announce the release of "Night Of The Hunter (Shannon Leto Remix)" on 9/18. The single which was originally on the Thirty Seconds To Mars' acclaimed 3rd album This Is War has been re-worked for the dance floor by the band's powerhouse drummer Shannon Leto.
TIFF 2012 Review: Jared Leto’s Searing Music Industry Expose ‘Artifact’ BY ISABEL CUPRYN – SEPTEMBER 15, 2012
If you don’t know who 30 Seconds to Mars is, you will soon. Artifact is the Super Size Me of the music industry, and makes its world premiere this weekend at TIFF. From amidst the band’s screaming throng of adoring fans, Jared Leto talks about his 30-million dollar battle with record label giant EMI.
With many acting successes under his belt (Requiem for a Dream, Lord of War, Fight Club), Jared Leto turned his focus to the band he created with his brother, drummer Shannon Leto. Artifact was born as a standard making-of-our-next-album documentary, and quickly turned into a searing expose, when the band got served with a jaw-dropping lawsuit by their record label.
If wondering “Who the heck are these guys?”, so did I, as well as TIFF programming staff… At first. Once you hear their radio hit “Kings and Queens”, you’re likely to say “Oh, yeah, I know that one! I love that song!” and might even join the devoted fans that have been packing stadiums all over the world.
With the initial trepidation of a woman allergic to anything mildly reminiscent of Nickelback, and an immature fixation on why Jared Leto would ruin his gorgeous face with his current Jesus beard, I grabbed a former-singer gal pal and pressed on. From the palpable near-hysterical buzz of the waiting audience, to the catcalls and screams as Jared took the stage, it was clear the band has a cult following. I had a feeling I might soon fall under the spell myself.
TORONTO - When musician Jared Leto and his bandmates in 30 Seconds to Mars hatched the idea to do a making-of documentary for their third album, the 40-year-old singer was hoping to give fans a bird's eye perspective on the then-untitled record.
But instead of a candid look at the recording process, the film took a sinister turn when, as 30 Seconds tried to amicably amend their contract with Virgin/EMI, the group was sued for $30-million by the record company. Leto, his brother Shannon (who plays drums) and guitarist Tomo Milicevic, were no longer making an album. They were at war.
“I don’t know why they chose $30-million,” Leto said, after arriving in Toronto for the TIFF premiere of Artifact at the Ryerson Theatre Friday night (it repeats Sunday).
The suit was eventually settled, but the ordeal resulted in a film that is both a searing indictment of a music industry fuelled by greed, and an examination of a band coming together to produce one of their biggest selling albums.