As conceptual events go, the Music Video Race is pretty solid. Like the tagline says:

20 bands.
20 filmmakers.
20 music videos.
1 weekend.
1 kick-ass party.

To explain just a little bit more: 20 bands and 20 filmmakers go in, but only one comes out.

Nah, I’m just bullshittin. The deal is: 20 bands and 20 filmmakers will get paired up randomly, and have one weekend to create a music video (May 18-20). The following weekend, on May 27, all of the videos are screened at Rickshaw Stop, and music industry types choose the winners, who stand to win fabulous prizes.

In a band? Are you a filmmaker? There are still spots left. Bands holler at MVR here, filmmakers here.

To get the real down-and-dirty scoop, hit the jump for an interview with Tim Lillis, whom some of you might know as the bassist of local post-rock powerhouse Microfiche. The Music Video Race is his baby, along with his partner Jacquelyn Marker, and he tells us all about it.

Bay Bridged: OK, so what is Music Video Race?

Tim Lillis: First off, thanks for giving us the opportunity to discuss Music Video Race with the fine folks at The Bay Bridged. This interview was conducted over email while Tim was in San Francisco and Jacquelyn in Australia with less than ideal internet access. So the answers are Tim’s unwieldy attempt to synthesize Jacquelyn’s thoughts with his own. Sorry for the inevitable grammatical nightmares.

It’s an all-new filmmaking and music event debuting this May in San Francisco. We’re pairing up 20 musical acts with 20 filmmakers to make 20 Videos in one weekend. The following Sunday, we’re doing a screening at the Rickshaw Stop.

BB: Where did the idea for the Music Video Race come from?

TL: Jacquelyn and I were headed out to a show and just chatting over a beer beforehand. We were going to see Mister Heavenly, who have Michael Cera on bass, so maybe the video/music theme was already in the air. Jacquelyn and I had worked on a 48 Hour Film Project together before, and we both work in video professionally, she on Mythbusters and I as a freelance art guy. I’ve been playing music forever, always trying to think of cool ways to incorporate music into things, and things into music, so the idea just kind of came up with itself. We knew it could be done, and then just figured out over the next few months what exactly IT would be.

We live in a time where access to music recording gear and quality cameras is really astounding and we’re seeing a lot of Bay Area creatives experimenting and coming up with amazing things. Music Video Race provides a platform to get tons of local talent in the same room and see what happens.

BB: What bands and filmmakers are signed up so far?

TL: As far as bands go, right now we can announce the totally rockin’ WATERS, featuring Van Pierszalowski from Port O’Brien; the face-melting metal band Cormorant; Mist Giant, an electro post-rock band with a really rich textured sound and super cool beats

[full disclosure: I’m in Mist Giant, which is how I found out about MVR – Mike G.]; and French Cassettes, a catchy-as-fuck indie-pop band. Excuse my French. There are a ton more that I’m not at liberty to announce just yet, but they’re all fantastic.

For filmmakers, we have some really talented folks lined up. There’s a team who specializes in time-constrained filmmaking — It Donned On Me. And a pair of guys who specialize in music videos — The Young Gunz (not to be confused w/ the hip hop crew). And the amazing Vanessa Carr — whose day job is video producer at Salon.com — is putting together a team. More announced soon!

So the keywords here are talent and diversity. We’re looking at all genres of music, and filmmakers from all backgrounds. We’ve seen such amazing things come out of tightly constrained projects, both professionally and recreationally — when you pair up talent of this caliber, you almost have to try hard to make something bad.

BB: Give us the basic rundown for how it all works.

TL: A representative from each band and each filmmaking team go to the kick-off location, where we’ll announce which musicians get paired with which filmmakers. They then have the next 48 hours to conceptualize, write, shoot, and edit a video for one of the band’s songs. It’s going to be a really fun challenge. Then a week later, on May 27th, we’re doing a screening at the Rickshaw Stop where we’ll show all the videos and give out prizes.

I just noticed a Matisse quote in the beginning of “Between the Folds,” a documentary about paper folding that goes: “Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.” That’s the spirit of our event in a nutshell, but we’re limiting the medium even more. It’s our belief that some of the best creative work comes from collaboration and constraints, so putting those two things together just seems like a great idea.

BB: Is there live music at the Rickshaw show? Will the winner play a set?

TL: There will be some live music. We can’t release that info yet, but they’ll be fantastic for sure. We know how to throw a party. In fact, at my (Tim’s) last house party there was totally a hair fire. No people or animals were harmed in the making of this good time.

BB: What’s the winner get?

TL: The grand prize for bands is a 3-day recording session at the sonically superior Studio SQ here in San Francisco to work on a future release. For filmmakers, there’s a generous free rental package from DTC Lighting and Grip to help them complete their own projects. So that’s one of the goals here — to keep helping this amazingly robust creative community we have here in the Bay Area make great stuff, not just during the filmmaking weekend.

BB: How are you going to pick a winner? Panel of judges? What are the criteria?

TL: One judge we can announce is Jacob Krupnick — an amazingly nice and smart fellow who happens to be the perfect fit for this. He’s the director of Girl Walk // All Day, an epic feature-length dance music video set to Girl Talk’s explosive “All Day” record.

We’ll be announcing other judges soon, and as far as judging criteria go, that’s a secret for now.

BB: Are you still accepting entrants (bands or filmmakers)? Wanna give us your pitch to bands and filmmakers here?

TL: As of the time of this interview, yes, we are still accepting musicians and filmmakers. Musicians can get great exposure, and collaborate on a music video with industry pros. We charge a nominal (really nominal) reservation fee to cover some operations stuff, but they’re essentially getting a free video. Filmmakers also get that great exposure, they get to work with some really great up-and-coming bands, and possibly do something a little bit more experimental than they usually do. Both bands and filmmakers have a chance at winning the prizes mentioned earlier. And here’s the other thing: It’s going to be really fun. Interested parties can email musicians@musicvideorace.com and film@musicvideorace.com.

If you’re not taking part in the filmmaking weekend, we hope to see you out at the screening on May 27th. You can get tickets now on the Rickshaw website.