Miles Wesley – 10 Steps From Heaven

May 1st, 2015

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:

Ramjaane Muchoma – Holla

February 12th, 2015

Artist : Ramjaane Muchoma
Song : Holla
Album :
Director : Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet

Another quick, cheap, dirty, yet pretty frikkin awesome one … or at least in my humble and never biased opinion =)

Came together really quick, loved the fact that I was doing a non-native-to-me language music video. Was a bonus that even without translation the song had such an innate catchy and upbeat quality to it. Ramjaane was effortless to work with. He’s a pro and brought the spirit of the song to every take, which as anyone who does this knows makes not just the shooting go easier but the editing as well. Same can be said of the video’s unfathomably and naturally beautiful model turned music video starlet, Zura Alvarado who jumped in at the eleventh hour to give the video it’s much welcomed splash of sexy.

For the shooting, without time to plan or any budget to speak of most of this was shot at my house. Since the most bare wall in my home happened to be behind my bed, which wasn’t moving anytime soon, the close ups of Ramjaane and Zura had to be shot with them kneeling on the bed. That footage was hyper edited and played back on my flat screen and then re-shot with either/or performing again in front of it. No green-screen was used in the making of this video =)

Number of reasons for that. Firstly, that’s how most things similar to this are usually done, who wants to do the usual? Secondly, to give the color that I wanted I was using color changing led bulbs. Would have wreaked havoc on the green-screen, which leads to the next. Thirdly, it saved tons of time. Setup took all of five minutes to plug in the bulbs and get them going, no stress, no hassle, shoot. Same with the TV, moved the lights, framed the shot to only get the screen, drop the talent in front of it, shoot. And fourthly, which is honestly pretty much a repeat of my firstly, it’s just not commonly done and gave a different look doing things in camera and practical and going back to my thirdly, saved butt-loads of time in post.

Beyond that a quick trip downtown with a wheelchair to round things out with some less eyeball straining not-so-shallow depth of field shots, an improvised ending and *poof* a music video was born.

I should also add that all the bikini’s seen in the video were provided by longtime friend of Underground Planet, Bandita Couture. If I were a chick I’d own one of every suit they make, but I’m not, and no one in the world wants to see that video. But you can check them all out here:

Everything shot on a Sony PMW-F3, edited in Sony Vegas, and color correction and exploitation with Magic Bullet.

And of course I can’t close without giving huge props to my right hand man Eliazar Mendoza. As always, couldn’t do what I do by myself and certainly wouldn’t want to =)

Support indie artists and Like Ramjaane’s page on Facebook NOW!

Cloutier – I Look Good

October 14th, 2014

Artist : Cloutier
Song : I Look Good
Album : This Is A Very Good Album Of Rap Music
Production Company : Underground Planet

I’m not even sure where to start talking about this one! I guess I’ll start by saying it was a frikkin awesome and hilarious shoot despite it all being shot in one very long 14 hour day.

From the first listen there were obvious similarities between this and Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. Humorous white guy rap about wearing cheap, unorthodox cloths. It was natural to try to do things somewhat opposite of what was done before. Instead of clothes that actually make someone “Look Good” it was the main idea out of the gate to just make him look as ridiculous and not-good as possible. Which led me to cutting him a quick message asking “Has anyone wore an octopus as underwear in a music video?” To which I got just about the best response ever “octopus underwear? Fuck yes.”

We came up with a handful of small gags but also wanted to balance out some of the stupidity with some mainstream sexy slickness. Hence the incredible Ibiza After Dark scenes. An incredible club with the perfect ambiance and state of the art lighting. Huge thanks to them and owner Charlie Salinas for treating us so well. The sexy was a three prong attack, yea, I know, that sounded dumb to me to. Early on we enlisted the help of the ever so popular model and personality Brooke Banx, hadn’t worked with her in forever so was stoked she signed on. And a late casting but huge find was Colette Stone, she played several roles but the acting in the grill scene was just perfect.

And the last piece of the sexy equation was set up through the incomparable Kelly Gray and her team of dancers “The GoGo Gadgettes.” It was real important to me that we not just have random gorgeousness but that we had a collection of dancers that could work out a routine and bring into it all the fun that we were hoping for, which they delivered ten times over. I also wanted a cohesive but different look and since Kelly makes all of their outfits, duh. The choreography, which was frikkin impeccable, was handled by Christian Casas. HUGE thanks to all the GoGo Gadgetts in the vid, Kelly Gray, Christian Casas, Hannah Dye, Mandi Mobley, Inna Grudtcina, Natalie Cruz.

The tattoo scene was filmed at Shanghai Kate’s Tattoos, a great shop that I plan on returning to for some ink in the hopefully not so distant future. Real deal tattooist Donny Silverman was super fun to work with, loved his idea for wearing shades while doing the tattoo and working in the horrible and hilarious little moment where he actually licks his them to clean up part of the area he was fake tattooing. And if ya pay close attention Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand herself made an appearance, lovingly held Cloutier’s hand for comfort as he got inked.

And we can’t forget “P” the puppet. I honestly have no recollection where the idea of having a semi-phallic puppet came from but I’m glad it did. For that I once again called on Matt Valentine of Global Fear Enterprises Both he and his brother Michael Faust did all the costumes and makeup for a previous video I did for Free Agent – I’m A Monster. And as a side note if you’re a horror or sci-fi buff and their names sound familiar it’s because they both appeared, albeit separately, on SyFy’s Face Off. Back to “P” somehow he was able to pull off exactly what I was hoping for, actually better than I was hoping for, in less than a week. The squishy faces that “P” manages crack me up every time. It’s amazing how much personality that puppet has.

There are a ton of other thanks to be made. Scott Ward (who actually was the werewolf in the aforementioned “I’m A Monster” video) for showing up and waiting hours only to get on his hands and knees with his hand in a penis puppet for what I think were the funniest three seconds of the vid. And to all the great extras who showed up that really add so much to the vid though it’s long hours, few if any hero shots, but simply wouldn’t be the same without. Bonus props to those that when I did a quick “I’m gonna roll the camera and anyone who wants to jump in, dance ten seconds, then jump out for the next.” Man did they show up strong =)

Some of my usual “couldn’t do this without” folks that I gotta thank and love. My awesome loyal badass super crew Arturo Cavazos and Eliazar Mendoza and Devona Ploeger who jumped in last minute to make Cloutier every bit as good and horrible as he did.

SO, check out his site, like his Facebook page, and buy his music! Supporting independent artists makes you feel good =)

Shot on a Sony PMW-F3K, GoPro Black, edited in Sony Vegas, CC with Magic Bullet.