So What Is Underground Planet?

Underground Planet is an award winning production company based in Austin Texas. From concept to completion we develop, plan, shoot and edit amazing videos for some of the most incredible bands and artist that a company like ours could ever hope to work with.

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Jun , 11

26

Free Agent – I’m A Monster

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!

Free Agent – I’m A Monster on iTunes

Free Agent Facebook Page

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May , 15

1

Miles Wesley – 10 Steps From Heaven

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