Aug , 12
Artist : Adam Carmichael
Song : Heaven Knows
Album : Before I Go
Director : Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
I simply adore this video and so many of the reasons why I adore this video have little or nothing to do with me but the combined talents of all involved.
For some of you that have read my little “blog” type descriptions on some of my other videos this first bit may seem a little redundant but: I loved this song on first listen. Actually thinking about it as I write I suppose that’s a logical pattern to fall into and it shouldn’t surprise me that many of my vid descriptions start with that statement or similar, of course I loved it on first listen or I probably wouldn’t have taken the gig!
Anyway, back to this song in particular, loved the piano, loved Adam’s voice, and love love loved the lyrics. “Hell knows I know right from wrong but heaven knows how I’ve tried …“ Brilliant!
So as per usual during the “concept” phase, I put the song on repeat and thought my little thoughts waiting for that “Ah Ha!” moment. That being the moment that I think what I’m seeing in my head would be perfect for the song and that the concept will work within whatever budget (or lack thereof) that the project consists of. For “Heaven Knows” the “Ah Ha!” moment came after a good thirty or forty listens when I realized I already had the concept for this over a year or so ago! Not sure why it took me so long to realize it but once I remembered it that little voice in my head let out a loud resounding “DUH!”
I’ve talked before about how I tend to mentally bookmark various locations that I think are cool and/or unique if the right project comes along, the same thing happens with concepts. In this vid I had both. The idea for this came awhile back and was actually inspired by an “acoustic” version of a radio performance by Lady Gaga for her song “Fooled Me Again.” Still and always one of my favorites by her. If you care to check it out you can see that here: Lady Gaga – Fooled Me Again
I’ve watched enough “So You Think You Can Dance” to know just how profound dance can be and that’s all that I had really wanted to do as I was reasonably sure that Lady Gaga wouldn’t have answered my calls to make a guest appearance in the vid. Just one dancer, dancing out the lyrics, emoting the passion and angst while matching the swells and lulls that occur throughout the song. The only other embellishments I wanted to incorporate beyond that were to be the angel wings along with the opening where she puts them on and the end where she “takes them off”. Symbolism to me that I won’t bother getting into only because I know would come off too artsy fartsy and in the end would prefer to leave it to the audience to formulate their own interpretation.
So anyhoo, as with many pet projects I’d like to do, it feel by the wayside and lingered on the back burner as something I would get to one of these days. Thankfully that day came when Adam sent me this song and after many a listen the light bulb finally lit.
From the original concept it was always Marisa Mingea (with one “S”) who I saw as the dancer. She’s lent her talents to two of my video’s in the past, both Teera – Flashy and Larissa Ness – Thoughts of You and is undoubtedly one of the most talented dancers I’ve ever met. Even without the wings she has an ethereal quality to her and the way she dances that I knew would be a perfect fit.
For Adams part there were only three key requirements, the first being the simpler of the trio. Going back to my “locations I’ve bookmarked in my brain” was a place that I’d seen a couple photographers use and had hoped to use one day, a local Austin bar called Lustre Pearl. The staff there were awesome and more than accommodating. The second thing needed was a strong performance, just as the dance needed to be emotive Adam had to tap into the passion and vulnerability that comes across so well in the song, it without that the video would have been unbalanced.
The next challenge was the wings. What I wanted wasn’t something you could pick up at your local costume shop. I wanted them to be articulated in such a way that Marisa could incorporate them into the dance, that she could bend them, move them, and reposition them at will as opposed to just sticking a pair of generic wings on her back. I also wanted to show her putting them on, I wanted the straps to be in full view (perhaps the only thing I wanted that would make making them just slightly easier to make!) as I wanted to sell the fact that they were “fake” to add a bit of surprise during the last reveal.
To build these I turned to Meredith Johns and her company Hawgfly Productions Inc. They’re a local FX company that had been nominated for 2010 Emmy Award and that, much to my joy and surprise, is based only blocks from my house. Bonus! Thankfully they were up to the challenge as I’m sure you saw in the vid, the wings were simply stunning and everything I wanted them to be. But consider this next time you watch it, as graceful as Marisa executed her choreography, she was doing so with 40 pounds of feathers, leather, and metal strapped to her back. In the shape I’m in I don’t think I could have walked up a flight of stairs wearing em but Marisa made it look effortless.
Amy Chambless from Hawgfly was on set and did all the blood effects/wounds and the, um, well, the nipple covering stuff. Hawgfly also made a second pair of partial wings for the close up of ripping them out of her back.
Huge thanks to Adam, Marisa, Hawgfly, Lustre Pearl, and my awesome crew Matt Friede, Arturo Cavazos, and Eliazar Mendoza, you all do such an amazing job at making me look good.
Oct , 14
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.