The story of Netflix’s new EDM movie, ‘XOXO’
Last month, Netflix made its official foray into the EDM world with its original film, XOXO. Described as “Dazed and Confused set at a rave,” it’s a light-hearted coming-of-age tale following six fans’ journey to the biggest rave in America.
While the reception thus far has been a mixed bag of praise and criticism, there’s a deeper story at play here. It’s the story of the film’s director, Christopher Louie, who poured the last 3 years of his life into creating the movie.
Louie is one of the more affable figures you’ll encounter in electronic music. He’s genuinely passionate about the scene and a true fan at heart — in other words, he’s one of us.
Louie attended his first rave at just 14 — a sweaty underground warehouse full of drugs, techno, and above all, a loving community that adopted him with open arms. He was hooked immediately, and soon found himself pursuing DJing, music production, and eventually, music video production, where he found his true passion.
In 2010, after a long hiatus from the scene, he attended Electric Daisy Carnival at the Los Angeles Coliseum — an experience which paved the way for the aesthetic and narrative of XOXO. It wasn’t until 2012, however, after watching Tomorrowland’s notorious aftermovie, that Louie was inspired to create his film.
Two years later, Louie finished the script but was encountering some serious funding problems: “Everybody loved it but nobody wanted to make it,” he says. Having given up his music video work to pursue the movie full time, he was at a crossroads:
“I was basically running out of money. Am I going to keep pursuing this thing that has no foreseeable financiers? Or do I go get a day job and do something that’s more realistic?”
After some existential musing and long talks with his girlfriend, he decided that, despite the risks, he had no choice but to make the movie. Fortunately for Louie, his resolve paid off.
The first sign of hope came when Louie enlisted Pete Tong as the official music supervisor — no easy feat given Pete’s notoriously high standards. “Once we started talking, he saw that I was a DJ and a real part of the scene,” Louie says. “It changed his perspective on everything. We really connected.”
The result of the partnership was a star-studded soundtrack featuring the likes of Jack Ü, Flume, Galantis, ODESZA and more, which even received an official release via Big Beat.
With Tong onboard, Louie was able to get access to shoot at an actual festival. Fortune continued to favor him when Deorro offered 10 minutes of stage time, giving Louie one chance to get the film’s most important shot — a rare, point-of-view sequence of the protagonist ascending the festival’s main stage to a packed crowd. The resulting shot — which Louie and crew pulled off successfully — would also go on to serve as the crux of the official trailer.
The entire situation proved something of a ‘full circle’ moment for Louie: “At the end of the day, I stood back and looked out at everyone, and I felt that exact same feeling I felt at warehouse raves when I was 14. All these kids dealing with loneliness, have overbearing parents, wanting to be recognized,” he says. “That exact moment, I thought to myself, ‘I have to make this movie.’ This is a story that needs to be told.”
“A month later, Netflix got the script and the teaser. They sent us a deal without even meeting.”
XOXO is an important movie for a number of reasons. Outside of Christopher Louie’s inspiring journey to create the film, there’s a historical significance to the project. The movie serves as a time capsule for a very specific moment in time: the EDM festival boom.
What’s more, it aptly captures the sheer absurdity of our beloved culture — from headlining DJ egos to bedroom producers blowing up overnight. Beyond that, it presents an intriguing editing style, melding an upbeat music video aesthetic into a fast-paced (and relentlessly fun) narrative. With an all-electronic soundtrack in tow, XOXO succeeds in breaking new ground in the film world while simultaneously marking an important milestone for the dance world.