Director: Doug Pray

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Hype! invites us to explore the Seattle scene as it recently became the central focus for new music in the United States and much of the world. Seattle’s music scene began as an insular, self-fulfilling form of expression where bands traded members, booked their own shows, produced their own records, and supported one another. With roots in punk rock and heavy metal, a regional sound developed, and grunge was born. Following the formation of SubPop, a label dedicated to the local sound, the founders managed to capture the attention of mainstream media. With the breakout success of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, A and R reps flocked to Seattle in search of the next hot band.

But it was more than just the sound—grunge was a style the fashion world could embrace as well. High fashion dedicated runway shows to flannel shirts and long underwear. National magazines devoted headlines and cover stories to this new phenomenon. The film reiterates what happens when art becomes a marketable commodity, exploring the price of over-exposure and the effects of a saturated music scene. Wonderfully edited, juxtaposing local scenery with spectacular concert footage, the film includes interviews with local bands and key Seattle industry members. These candid interviews with the people who became the source of the sensation reveal the humane side of the business. Years in the making, Hype! gives an honest entrée into a world the media paid attention to but never bothered to go beneath the surface of. Director Doug Pray’s desire to delve deeper is what makes this film shine.

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details

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