The Target Shoots First By Mike White. This amazing High-8 video documentary revolves around Chris Wilcha's first job out of college. Armed with a degree in philosophy, the well-spoken Wilcha scores a spot in the marketing department at Columbia House-the oldest and largest CD/cassette mail order company in America...

This amazing High-8 video documentary revolves around Chris Wilcha's first job out of college. Armed with a degree in philosophy, the well-spoken Wilcha scores a spot in the marketing department at Columbia House-the oldest and largest CD/cassette mail order company in America. More than experience; Wilcha gives the impression that he managed to gain employment based on his knowledge of so-called "alternative music." The year was 1993 and while Nirvana's smash album, Nevermind, may have been out for a few years, the alternative crowd had not yet been properly marketed to and exploited by "The Man." Wilcha soon finds that it's his dubious honor to aid his employers in this task. Smells like a new demographic.

Wilcha not only gives insight into the inner-workings of Columbia House as a business (no one seems to mind his constant camera), but The Target Shoots First also serves to highlight the apparently universal conditions of office politics and interdepartmental strife. At Columbia House, the division between the creative promotional department (consisting of graphic artists, copywriters, etc) and the managerial marketing staff (of which Wilcha is a member) is not only mental but physical as well. The rift between the two is demonstrated in the promotions department being housed on the 17th floor while the marketing department works above on the 19th. Is the creative staff composed of carefree slackers or do they get easily bent out-of-shape about company policy and ergonomically inferior working conditions?

Instead of making an unfocused scattershot piece about corporate life, marketing techniques or introspection about Punk Rock├?┬ó├?┬?├?┬ó values, Wilcha balances all these ideas and brings them all into play when he is asked to create an alternative music magazine to allow Columbia House to capitalize on this "new" music niche. Gathering a handful of folks from the 17th floor, Wilcha and his team strive to do away with the differences in titles and responsibilities as they spawn an irreverent magalog that shows a true passion for the music selections within. But, will Columbia House allow such a product to exist?

Told in a linear style, The Target Shoots First moves at a good pace, never getting dull even when Wilcha documents his boredom at endless meetings. The editing is remarkable and even garnered a special award of recognition at the 1999 Slamdance festival. The story is moved along, too, through the well-written voice-over narration. Beautifully shot, the compositions are often a feast for the eyes and the video quality is remarkable. The image is as sharp as documentary is poignant-no mushy colors or half-baked ideas.

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