When I first heard about a filmmaker who had shot video for two years while working at Columbia House corporate headquarters, I assumed that he was using a hidden camera. I was wrong. He showed up for his first day of work with a video camera, and when no one objected to being filmed, he proceeded to bring it to work everyday for the next two years. His name is Chris Wilcha.

Using the video he accumulated while working in the Columbia House corporate culture, Chris Wilcha created the film The Target Shoots First. His experience forces him into a personal examination of what it means to be part of a music corporation when your roots are punk and your perceived goal isnít to advance through the corporate ranks.

After graduating from college and quitting his punk band, Chris needs a day job to support him in New York while he figures out what he wants to do with his life. He starts as an assistant in the marketing department and quickly becomes the main marketing person who must be the liaison between marketing and creative people at Columbia House. The tension between these two groups is revealed in the way they interact in meetings and how they generalize when describing the other group. Another division exists between those in management and those in general workforce. Because of his increased authority and responsibility, Chris loses a friendship that he had established while working with a peer. As part of management, he is no longer a peer.

Both the setting and Chrisí interests make the evolution of music a main focus of the film. The viewer gets to see corporate discussions on whether "heavy metal" still exists, the growing acceptance of alternative music as a legitimate category, and even how one acknowledges the death of a rock hero. The film also provides a good overview of the history of music buying clubs and how they work. As part of his introductory training, Chris tours a Columbia House production and distribution facility in Indiana, and discussions with the workers and management help explain how the system works.

Despite, his at times, negative view of the music clubs, and how they decrease the royalties that artists receive, Chris reveals that the late Nirvana frontman Curt Cobainís early music exposure came from his Dadís music club record collection. Chris also acknowledges that his own introduction to the musical group Black Sabbath came by way of a record club.

The film doesnít tackle any huge issues. It is not an expose, and that is why even the chairman of Columbia House consented to an interview by Chris. The films is a very personal journey through corporate America, that anyone who has worked in it, rallied against it, or wants to see it from the inside, should enjoy.


Joshua Davis
davis@documentaryfilms.net

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The reviewerís view of this film is clouded by his overwhelming desire for Chris Wilchaís Columbia House job. One of the perks of the job is a complimentary copy of every CD in the Columbia House library. In 2000, the number of CDs in the catalog is 20,000. Donít think everyone at Columbia House is so lucky. At the time, only three people in the whole company had access to this perk. While not lusting after other peopleís jobs, Josh is the publisher of Documentary Films .Net.

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