“Bellflower,” “Wendy and Lucy,” and “We need to talk about Kevin,” these are all films (often by first-time directors) produced and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, the New York studio whose co-founder, Adam Yauch, died today at 48 after losing a battle with cancer.
In 2009, Yauch was treated for a cancerous parotid gland and a lymph node and underwent surgery and radiation therapy. Two months after the tumor was discovered he released a video online about it.
Before being a movie producer and filmmaker, Yauch was a hip-hop artist. By age 22 the Brooklyn-born Yauch had helped formed the trio the Beastie Boys and released “License to Ill.” A bottomless trough of acerbic wit and rock-laden joyful anger-inducing tunes, “License” became the imprimatur of a generation, as ubiquitous in the nation’s campuses as a Kurt Vonnegut novel. If you didn’t cruise down the avenue in your pickup truck blaring the manic basslines from “Slow Ride” across a two-mile radius, you hadn’t lived, man.
Yauch, a practicing Budhist, founded Oscilloscope Laboratories in 2002 to distribute his directorial-debut film “Gunnin’ for that #1 Spot.” An impressive catalog of feature filmmaking followed, covering a broad spectrum of themes and genres, from music documentaries to foreign fare.
Between the startlingly successful musical career (forty million records sold, the Beastie Boys are Hall of Fame inductees), the commitment to bringing new filmmakers to the fore via his Oscilloscope outfit and his well-known fight for Tibet freedom, Yauch was an enlightened artist who made an invaluable contribution to humanity, and who existed within a world he kept as limitless and as all-encompassing as possible.
He leaves behind a spouse and a daughter.