Sep , 11
Music: Black Sky by Alpha Rev
Licensed for use by Alpha Rev and Scire Vox Records
Download the song for free: alpharev.com/
This has been the only piece I’ve ever worked on that made my eyes well up with tears while editing.
This video is not the complete piece but rather a montage of some of the footage that we filmed for the project I’m describing here.
I got a call at 10:30 at night from Michael Linehan from ifbtv (facebook.com/iFBTV) saying that he had just flown into Austin and needed a cameraman and crew to shoot a piece with Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers. Apparently Michael and he had been talking about this before a Gaitlin Brothers show just days before and within an hour and a half of their talking Larry had written a song about the fires. He went on to say that Larry wanted to do a video with ifbtv and wanted to start PassTheHatForTexas.com to help raise funds for victims of the current Texas fires. We would be going out to Larry’s place to do an interview and record him performing the song, we would be going to do some interviews and possibly going out to film some of the damage.
We met up with Michael the next morning and headed out to Larry’s home. Though it may seem trivial in light of the circumstances I can’t go further without mentioning just how gracious Larry was. Before we had even started setting up gear he said he had ordered us lunch and it would be there any minute. We unloaded the gear and over lunch discussed how bad things had gotten. All things convivial but the mood was noticeably somber. While setting up the camera Larry picked up his guitar and sang the song he wrote “Rain on Texas”, chills, hard to believe that such an amazing song was written that quickly, inspiration is a wonderful, if not sometimes a heartbreaking thing.
We were pressed for time but managed to record the song and a bit of Larry and Michael talking about the project. A quick load out and we were off to the City Of Bastrop Convention Center which was serving as the command center. The closer we got to Bastrop the stronger the smell of smoke. We pulled up and Larry did few interviews outside with a survivor and some of the staff. After that we were ushered inside and past the doors that labeled with large signs that read “NO MEDIA”. Maps, computer projections and a good hundred or more people were busy tracking the fires. Firemen covered in dirt and soot passed by and Larry didn’t let one pass without thanking them. We shot a little of Larry talking to some of the representatives and volunteers. One in particular was a standout, a fireman named Jim from Delaware that Larry was speaking with who said “We’re here to help out and I know if Delaware ever needed a hand I’m sure Texas would come to help us, that’s what we do right?”
Grabbed the gear, jumped in our cars to follow an escort from the Fire Department who lead us past the police and police barricades and into an area had suffered catastrophic damages. The smoke wasn’t just visible now but it seemed to be everywhere. On either side of the highway there were workers cutting down trees in an effort to clear a path that the fire wouldn’t get past. Few houses were left standing, just piles of smoking rubble and burned out vehicles. Some of this I was unable to film. I was asked by our guide to only film the parts they okayed out of respect for the victims.
We went down a few side streets, it was nearly impossible to tell that it used to be a neighborhood. The three horses were spotted just running down the middle of the road loose as the owner had presumably not had time to haul them away and had no choice but to open their gate and let them free hoping they would survive.
The footage you see is part, but not all of what we saw. I simply couldn’t fit it all into this one video and hope that some other shots will make it into the finished piece that ifbtv is doing. Time was limited so it was just run around and grab what I could from the one small area we were allowed in.
Once done we made our way back to our cars but before I had put the camera up I saw my two crew guys, Arturo Cavazos and Eli Mendoza, being led by a couple home owner back to the where their house used to be. They were Rory and Iris, a married couple who lost just about everything. Iris led me around and pointed out some of the things that had survived. I simply cannot fathom what they are going through or moreover, how they remained so incredibly high spirited they were despite the tragedy. I can only hope that the world is as kind to them as they were to us as they set about rebuilding their lives.
The last little bit that I want to mention is that I wanted to get this up sooner. It’s been a couple days since we shot it but my main computer has been down. Beyond that I also didn’t know what I wanted to do with the footage. I knew I wanted to do something in addition to what iFBTV and Larry Gaitlin were doing to help bring even more attention to it but thought that using Larry’s song might be redundant and wanted there to be two video’s that were worth watching to help spread the message further about PassTheHatForTexas.com, just really had not even a clue as to what. Today my computer got back up and I happened on a post by the band Alpha Rev that said “Check out videos from yesterday at The Bing Lounge : tinyurl.com/6grdjy9” … so I did. The third one down was “Black Sky”, they had dedicated it people who had lost their homes. From the first note I knew that this was what I needed. I started writing whoever I could from the band and within 30 minutes got a message from Derek Morris that said “Absolutely love to help.” followed by a wonderful call just minutes later telling me how strongly they felt about the situation and they would love me to use it. Can’t thank them enough. I’ve heard that a miracle is an coincidence God snuck in when I wasn’t looking; finding that song today was a complete and wonderful coincidence.
As for the technical this was shot straight to SxS cards on a Sony PMW-F3 almost all with the kit 35mm, not a lot of time for lens changes. Other than that used an indiSLIDERair from indisystem.com that stayed mounted on my Sachtler tripod throughout the shoot. Edited in Sony Vegas, additional CC with Magic Bullet Looks.
I’ll post a link to the finished ifbtv video with Larry Gatlin and Larry’s new song “Rain on Texas” as soon as they get it online.
May , 15
Artist: Miles Wesley
Song: 10 Steps From Heaven
Album: Light of Day
Director : Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
Miles had hit me up some time back, the song was simple, acoustic, an incredible voice. I was stoked as I always am when a good tune comes my way in need of a video. For whatever reasons it never came together. When he hit me up again with a new song I was re-giddied, until I heard this song. My excitement left me in a “WTF?” moment. It wasn’t that I disliked it, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it based on what I’d previously heard. But it didn’t take long before it totally grew on me.
Concept wise I was referred to another vid by another artist, both of which will remain nameless. Though I personally thought it sucked it did grant me some guidance. The first being, I don’t want to do anything even remotely like that one. Second, there was a boy, there was a girl, and there was sexy. That’s as good a place to start as any. Begin the process of playing the song on repeat ad infinitum. The visual story became obvious after multiple listens. The song being one of apology, the thought being that often if one is willing to meet with an ex they do so with some degree of openness, if not hope for, a reconciliation. Obviously not everyone all the time, but this is a story =)
So how do you show that in a sexy way? Well, ya saw how I did. Occurred to me that perhaps in this case she did go there with that hope, that he would say and do the right things. And perhaps, though willing to forgive, wouldn’t want to let him completely off the hook. The closing mirror quote took longer than it should have. Went through myriad of options before “9 More Steps” finally clicked. Once I had that I had a complete story that stuck with the theme of the song. And there are a little lot of lil moments that reflect the lyrics in some way, the line “playing hide and seek” as his love is waking off. “If you want it you can get it” as she’s unbuttoning his shirt. etc, etc. Fun subtle stuff.
Production wise we rented a badass hotel room and shot. Simple right? Worth mentioning this was one of the quickest turnarounds as far as editing on a project like this. The reason for that is simple. I charged one battery the day before and set my second to charge when I went to bed. Waking up, horror of horrors, that one had expired, dead dead dead. Being a Sunday I didn’t have the option to get another. To compensate we did a lot of stalling in order to toss the battery on the charger at every opportunity. Unfortunately this meant the shoot went far later than it needed to, got home around 4:30am. On the bright side it restricted my usual propensity to be a footage whore. Less footage = easy edit! If I could restrain myself I’d never buy a second battery!
Casting. I had submitted four females for the part but made no recommendations. That said, I was hoping with all hope they would choose Eugenia Osbon and they did! Her print work is amazing and her performance in this video was everything I wanted and more. As a director, or someone with an ego, it’s easy to want to take credit for so much of what goes into making something like this. But my favorite moment in the entire piece was completely a Eugenia improvisation. The moment where she goes to exit the room and places her hand on his neck as she passes. I had absolutely nothing to do with it but as soon as she did it I gushed and said that was going to be in the final and that I wanted to get a reverse shot of it. That little awesome reverse shot of him turning to look as she walks away wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for her ad-lib.
People to thank! First off Marisa Mingea who’s choreographed and/or danced in many of my vids. Most notably in Adam Charmichale’s “Heaven Knows.” In this case though she stepped way outside her comfort zone and essentially functioned as production manager. Can’t thank her enough for filling in the million gaps that needed filling. Also had the incredible opportunity to work with the insanely talented makeup artist Ivy Kim-Warner for the first time, hopefully not the last.
My crew. My frikkin rock, the indispensable Eli Mendoza who’s been on more of my shoots than I can count. Added to the team was Katrina VanBuskirk who did an incredible job. I’ve worked with her for the last four or five years during every SXSW so never had any doubt in her ability and she exceeded my expectations at every turn.
Lastly, I have to give so much gratitude to Miles parent’s Milton and Renee. It was inspiring to see the level of support they had for Miles, their openness to the concept, their excitement during the process, and their taking such great care of the cast and crew. Everyone involved noticed and appreciated them so much. Thanks for the opportunity and thrilled you loved the finished piece =)
Support indi artists! Get this song here: http://tinyurl.com/llj3wug