May , 12
This would be my “America!!! F*CK YEA!” video. I received a very nice email from a very nice wife inquiring about the possibility of getting a music video for her husbands new song “American Dirt.” They were planning a trip to Austin and were thinking that while they were down here getting one shot might make the trip all the more worthwhile.
So they sent the song over. When Aron said the line “And I’m proud of the soldiers that fought, and the ones that are fighting right now” I was in. 11 months ago I did a music video for “Free Agent” just days before one of its members, J Brooka, shipped off to Afghanistan. (vimeo.com/24435370) We’ve been in contact via the web a handful of times throughout his time there and am always relieved to get a message. At the time of this writing he has a month left to go and I, along with all his friends and family, can’t wait to have him back safe.
For me that was the motivation. The video came together relatively quick to coincide with their coming to Austin. Initially it was fairly simple but then the thought of Aron getting an actual tattoo came to mind. Though he all but scoffed at the idea, Amanda (remember I said she was a very nice wife) loved it and somehow convinced him to do it. And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how awesome my tattooist Nathan Hebert is. Not just for the great tattoo he gave Aron for the vid but also for being willing to come in and do it on his day off. And big thanks to Atomic Tattoo on Burnet for letting us shoot in the shop. (atomic-tattoo.com) Note to Nate: We need to finish my sleeve ASAP! =)
You can check out Nathan’s other work or book him here: natestattoos.com
The night before we were to shoot I had yet another idea after being told they had their two sons coming with. I through out the idea that it might be cool, if we were even able, to find various public service type uniforms and have them more or less represent the either our future or a younger version of those in service now. They managed to get the costumes the day of the shoot and we bounced around Austin finding suitable backgrounds as we went. I feel I should apologize to all the women out there who take on the same roles as men and unfortunately are not represented in the video but these were the kids they had, don’t fault me for them not having a daughter! Do know that its as dedicated to you as to them =)
I also have to give a quick nod to Angela Lee for finding us the great location to shoot the band. (austinlocationscout.com) While I often don’t mind the fun of “gorilla” type shooting (just find a location and set up shop wherever I think might look groovy) it’s never fun getting kicked out of a location and with Aron and fam being in from out of town and not a whole lotta time to switch gears if something like that happened, it was nice having a great location with the landowners permission. Not to mention the landowner seemed to enjoy our little shebang and invited the entire band, cast and crew up to his house for a celebratory beer after we wrapped.
This was shot on a Sony PMW-F3 and edited in Sony Vegas.
Jun , 11
Artist : Free Agent
Song : I’m A Monster
Album: Free Agent
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
J-Brooka and I had been working for some time on another concept for another video entirely, it was going to be for a song off of his solo album when last minute, two days before we were due to start shooting, everything had to switched gears. Long story short (not my strong point) there was cause for delay in production but the problem being that J-Brooka was in the military and only had a little over a week before he was leaving town to spend time with his family before shipping out to Afghanistan. It was pretty much devastating, not just because I tend to get emotionally invested in a song/concept but in this case because all of us wanted nothing more than to pull this off for him so that he could go overseas feeling like a rock star. It really didn’t look like it was going to happen. A day later J called me and said he had an idea, he had another song called “I’m A Monster” that he had done with Money, Chivas Kimber & Genesis a group collectively known as “Free Agent”. He said he just wanted something kind of in the vein of Michal Jackson’s “Thriller”. Time to scramble.
Like I’m sure a lot of people in this industry do I’m always making little notes in my head of people, places and things that may come in handy one day. As soon as he told me what he was thinking and I started listening to this track for so many obvious reasons a couple local special effects makeup guys came to mind. I had stumbled on their site over a year ago but till this came along hadn’t had a project that would lend itself to their talents. Enter Matt Garcia & Michael Lynn Garcia of Global Fear Enterprises. Not sure if Matt knew just how much of a panic I was in when I contacted him but told him the basics, that since we only had a few days before we had to shoot I just wanted to use some of the characters and costumes he had already created, shoot the artists performing, swap them out with the monsters, baddabing baddaboom, music video. Thankfully he was totally down and able to shift things around to accommodate our last minute shoot. The one caveat being that he thought he could only get three actors for the costumes though I needed four. I told him that wouldn’t be a problem, I’d find someone. A phone call later my good friend Scott Ward, owner of Strange Brew agreed to be the werewolf … and bring coffee. If ya know me that’s a big frikkin bonus. As a side note it would have been great if we could have just had the guys in the group in the costumes but as you may suspect getting someone into that and made up takes time that we didn’t have the luxury of. The only way we would be able to pull off anything like this would be to have their doppelganger in the waiting watching the artists perform and do their best to mimic what they did.
I had a few places that I thought might work for the ambiance I was looking for but wasn’t 100% that they were gritty enough. Doing what any good director/producer would do when you need something last minute I posted an ad on Craigslist while putting a backup plan into place. With one location locked while still hoping for another I went to work on finding girls, gotta have girls! Carly Bell had been working on doing the choreography for the previous concept and was totally on-board with switching gears and being in this one. Some may recognize her from the “Larissa Ness – Thoughts of You” music video I had done, she did all the amazing choreography for that one as well. Next to agree with little or no notice was Stephanie Schechter, she had been one of the stand out models in the “Threads of Hope Fashion Event” and was thrilled to have her join in. Last, and to be completely cliché, defiantly not least was Kelsea Fontes. Though I had never met her in person we had become friends on Facebook through friends of friends and every one of her pics were just stunning. There was a fourth girl (name withheld!) was supposed to be there but more about that later.
Two days before the shoot I got a tip on another location from Rob Surrette for the Armadillo Hall in Taylor Texas. From the pics I could dig up it was amazing but was somewhat leery that it wasn’t in Austin. Extra miles tend to dishearten the kindness of those involved on productions and always seem to increase the odds that someone’s not going to make it. With that in mind I was pensive about changing everything and switching locations. The next day I was having second thoughts while trying to get everything lined up and decided to do some Google maps comparing. Much to my surprise the location I had already locked, though technically in Austin was exactly the same drive time, 45 minutes. Another panicked call, this time to Armadillo Hall to see if there was any way we could shoot there the very next day. Honestly I have no idea how I get so lucky with these things but Tina, the owner, was fifty kinds of gracious and gave us the go-ahead. A round of calls, texts, and emails to all the cast and crew.
Next day shoot day. Arrive at the location and it’s even better than the pics. Perfect mood for this. Quick go around and pick out the parts we want to shoot in. We start staging and the phone rings. Apparently I had neglected to send Matt the new location info and they’re at the original location. They are now well over an hour away but en route. I get a text message, girl number four is having car problems, she may be late. Nothing I can do but keep setting up … and stall. Another text from girl number four, car still isn’t going right but she’s still going to make it but won’t be able to stay long because she has an obligation after. Lights are ready, playback is ready, artists are ready. Message from Matt that one of the actors for the monsters won’t be able to make it. I look around at who’s on hand, Urhighnes Williams who produced the track/beat master had come with the guys and was willing. Cool, we had four monsters. Were about an hour or more into setup. New text from girl four, she doesn’t think she’ll be able to make it. Four guys, three girls, arg. The solution: J gets all three girls in his segment, he’s okay with that. =)
So that, my friends, is my way to lengthy description on how to pull together a music video shoot in a few days. Besides the hiccups I’ve already described everything went off pretty much without a hitch. We did the bulk of the shooting that night but wound up going back for a second day to pick up some shots I really wanted to get. Nothing much to note on that as pick up days are always less stress, you know you have the bulk of the footage in the can and anything you get is bonus. The one thing I will add is that if at last minute you think it would be cool to make all your artists wear monster contacts make sure you have time for it! Most of the guys in the group had never worn contacts before and it took one of them no less than 45 minutes to manage to get them in!
Besides everyone mentioned above a huge thanks to Matt Friede who ran the b-cam and got the majority of the slo-mo and to two of my favorite guys to have on crew, Lee Reinhardt and Esteban Lopez, as always couldn’t have done it without ya!
Quick technical, this was shot on a 7D as the primary and a T2i as the secondary with a Canon 50 1.2 and Canon 85 1.2 with the T2i running at 60p for slo mo. Edited in Sony Vegas and additional CC with Magic Bullet. I should add that the edit on this was a challenge as well. This was one of those that took seemingly forever to find the right look for. Initially in my head I had seen this having kind of degraded film look, doing some overlays of film stock and having some of the transitions be kind of fluttery, where one frame pushes in the next. Once I had synched up all the footage I started editing along those lines and hated it. I don’t know that it looked “bad” per se but it just wasn’t working for me. Perhaps because I had done something similar in the “Endeverafter – Next Best Thing” video and had recently done an even more extreme version for and edit I did of an interview with Clutch for Roxwel and I really don’t like to feel like I’m repeating myself. Whatever the reason it wasn’t working. I think I spent a good two days coming up with something that I liked, the less contrasty and blue-ish tint really worked and for some reason had a bit of an old school film feel. I usually start out a project with pretty high expectations but with the final cc this one looked even better than I had originally imagined it to be. Love when that happens!