Jun , 11
Artist : Rex Robards
Song : Whiskey Wrote This Song
Album: Right Ain’t Always Right
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
At long last!!! This was such an incredible video to make and be a part of and I’m not sure I can even express all the reasons why in a short description.
Rex first contacted me some months back, he said had been on my site the night before and watched my entire feature “For Love & Stacie” and checked out some of my music vids but that mainly because of FL&S really wanted me to do one for “Whiskey Wrote This Song”. For some reason that I’m not quite sure of I was really kinda tickled that a musician was referring to “For Love & Stacie” as to why they wanted me to do their music video. He sent over the song and from first listen I loved the track. Based on the title I alone I initially thought it was going to be some sort of happy country sing-a-long drinkin song, not that there’s anything wrong with those but I was more than pleasantly surprised to find something much deeper, much darker, and so much more passionate than what I had expected.
The storyline and visual aspects of this one became pretty clear pretty fast. I knew the kind of environment I wanted for both the band and the home but not a particular location. I also knew that I wanted the entire storyline filmed in slow motion. I became intrigued with the idea of telling an entire story with what amounts to be not a whole lot of time. Initially I had hoped to use a Phantom or Weisscam for the storyline but when I couldn’t dig one up for the dates we wanted I opted for a RED with its ability to shoot 120 fps, not as extreme as I had wanted but workable. All told the storyline takes up about 130 seconds of the video, filmed at 120 fp that means that the storyline in real-time only amounts to about 32 seconds.
Stacy Zeiler Kenyon immediately came to mind for the lead female, in part but obviously not completely due to a handful of pictures she had posted wearing the same dress I later had her wear during the first half of the vid. Something about her in that dress was just a perfect match and though she hadn’t acted before based on her modeling I knew she could visually convey the emotions needed for the part and I wasn’t disappointed, she was amazing, incredible to work with and nailed it on every take. Not to mention that even after getting slammed against a kitchen counter ten or more times to the point of physical bruising she never once complained! (Sorry bout that Stacy!) By the way some of you who know my work may recognize her from the “Threads Of Hope Charity Fashion Show” video I did for her swimwear line.
The male lead was not so easy. I had a look that I wanted and no one that had submitted a headshot or came over for casting was really fitting the bill, we had some that were pretty close but none that were dead on. Three days before the shoot I still wasn’t 100% sold on the guy that we had cast and decided to meet with just one more, I had seen his headshot and he had some great credits so I figured may as well. Around 9pm three days before the shoot in walked Craig Nigh, dressed the part and a little on the scruffy side, he was it. Looking at the video now I know we couldn’t have gotten anyone better and thrilled that he came along.
For locations one afternoon Ruben (my producer on this) and I were out and about scouting for a location for the house and randomly drove by an old dilapidated greenhouse. The fans in the walls were perfect as the backdrop and after seeing it couldn’t even think of shooting anywhere else. It took Ruben some doing but somehow through those magical producer skills of his he finally managed to track down the owner of the property. We went to meet with him and give it a better look a couple weeks later and it was everything I wanted. Funny side note, as you can see in the time-lapse (http://www.vimeo.com/10808793) we all got there while the sun was still out and the place looks, well, funky at best. Even though the first time I saw it I knew what we were going to do with light shooting through the fans, the smoke, the, dare I say “ambiance”? Rex and the band didn’t. Rex later confessed that when they first pulled up and first saw the place his band was like “What the hell did you get us into?”. Apparently once the sun went down, the lights came on and they saw some playback they were more than cool with it. Another side note is that as it was unused and pretty run down there was no electricity, the fans were inoperable and we had to have a PA ducked down outside behind each of them manually spinning the fans while we filmed.
With the RED we were lucky to bring DP Michael Morlan on board. Now I’m one of those that likes to do everything himself, I generally hate being behind a monitor directing while someone else is wielding the camera and, if I’m to be honest, originally we hired Michael more for his gear than anything else. Now that wasn’t based on his work, just on how I usually liked to do things and I had every intention of DP’ing and shooting 99% of it with his RED. We shot the band before shooting the story and after the first take I loved what I was seeing and let him do the second, and third, and fourth etc etc etc. At one point I even said to him “Man, not trying to insult ya but your shots almost look like I’m shooting them” and he said one of the most cool things I’ve ever had a camera person say to me, he said “I watched a bunch of your stuff to try and match your style.” I’ll go ahead and say that it doesn’t mean he liked my style of shooting! But I was totally impressed that he said that. Needless to say I only shot one or two takes myself and left the rest to him. Michael, you’re awesome.
The one other obvious challenge in this was the CGI. It was the first concept for me that required it and though I knew the shot that I wanted I had no clue how to get it. Thankfully we had Technical Director Christopher Louis on location to help coordinate the shot and later to do the modeling of the bottle as well as roughing out the scene with the final animation being done by an incredible artist Jarno Cordia of AirRebels. With this the most important thing from day one was that the CGI had to blend seamlessly with the scene, not an easy task. In a lot of films/videos there is a certain CGI look that we’ve come to accept if not appreciate. There’s that suspension of disbelief that even though something may have a somewhat computer generated look we don’t mind because we’re used to it. For this it had to be absolutely photorealistic. Because the narrative was reality based anything that looked phony would have snapped the viewer out of the emotion of the scene and made them focus on the effect and blown the tension of the moment and relief at the subsequent reveal. I can’t thank Christopher and Jarno enough for the tremendous talent and dedication they had in helping me keep people in that moment.
Wow, wrote so much more than I meant to, hoping that you Dear Reader will forgive me for the self indulgent rant. =)
Mar , 12
Artist: Daniel Whittington
Song: Never Go Home
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
A couple weeks ago I got an email through the website from solo artist Daniel Whittington who was looking to get a music video made to support his just released “Private Wars” CD. Off to his website I went (danielwhittington.com) to give some of his tunes a listen. Loved em. Irish country, is that what his style is? Technically I’m still uncertain but being of Irish decent (though I feel more German as I’m adopted and was raised by parents of German decent, grandparents still spoke the language … okay, I’ve strayed and over shared and not for the first time have a run-on sentence that needs to end.) I dug it.
Anywhoo, I was leaning towards one song in particular and we were headed down the road to shoot that in a couple weeks or so when on Friday night, two days ago to be exact, he rang and said that for various reasons he had decided the first vid we do should be for “Never Go Home.” As back story I should add that I had just got done shooting red carpets and panel discussions for SXSW and during one, I believe it was Joss Whedon who threw out a Leonard Bernstein that struck me: To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.
With that in mind as he said he wanted to do “Never Go Home” I said “Well what are you doing tomorrow?” He said “Nothing planned” and I said “Well lets shoot it tomorrow” and he said “Cool” he asked “What time?” I said “How bout we meet up at one?” he said “Cool, where are we going to shoot it?” I said “Not sure” he said “Works for me” I said “Cool, see ya at one.”
That was around 9:30 PM two nights ago. As the song was all about Texas I had a flashback of the location we used for Free Agent’s “I’m A Monster” video. (I’m A Monster Video Here) I remembered there was a dividing wall that had a huge Texas flag on em thought I thought might be perfect. I called Rob Surrette who had initially suggested that place in to an ad I had posted on Craigslist. I was a little crushed to find out that the landlord had gotten new tenants and he didn’t know what the status was. He offered to drive over there in the morning and see if anyone was there and if so if they would let us use it. That was enough of a plan for me. Next made two calls to two of my ever so awesome crew, Arturo Cavozos and and Eli Mendoza, to see if they would be available. By 11 PM I had a crew for the next day and a maybe long-shot location.
Yesterday was awoken to the good news from Rob that we were a go on the Ex-Armadillo Hall. Do you need to know that I then had a cup of coffee and a cigarette as I double checked my camera batteries? You probably don’t, but now ya do.
Art was late but I’m confidant it was just because he likes to keep me nervous, bailed my house around 1:45, got to the location around 2:30 and we were shooting within the hour. Daniel himself was a consummate, and a really f*kn nice guy to boot. I only gave him my brief, fairly pat, pre-shoot direction and take after take he nailed it. Pretty confidant he would have even without my self-purported words of wisdom. Can’t wait to go see him live, from the top of his derby to the bottom of his snakeskin boots, Daniel is an entertainer. Not in the sense that he’s putting on a show for the camera but he’s putting on a show as that’s what he was born to do, he feels every note and every word and it shows. I might add that he’s the only man I’ve ever refereed to his movements being “spindly.” (watch his legs!)
Back to the shoot, if memory serves (yea, I know, it was only yesterday but I’m not a clock watcher) we wrapped around 6:30 and were at the Salt Lick celebrating with BBQ by 7 something. Got home, slammed the footage on my pooter, set it to synch up with PluralEyes and woke up today ready to edit. I’m not sure if it was inspiration or stupidity but somehow I got it in my mind that I wanted the edit done within 24 hours of when we started. Though I made my little self imposed deadline (whoot!) I did make a couple more tweaks and the render put me a little over. I only failed on a technicality! Was a blast trying though!
Last the technical, shot on a Sony PMW-F3 with the Sony 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm, edited in Sony Vegas, additional CC in Magic Bullet Looks 2.0.
To make this post even longer I wanted to share Daniel’s blog about the shoot … because it made me feel good! =)
A month ago before the craziness of SXSW kicked in, I started doing research on Austin videographers with the idea of getting a video of “Never Go Home” accomplished post album release.
I reached out to a few and watched several dozen videos, and became more and more interested in Ray Schlogel from Underground Planet. His videos seemed to combined a high level of professionalism with a great eye for energy and band presence.
I called him, and we discussed trying to do it quickly so he could have it done prior to other commitments that kicked in around April. I had no idea how quickly that would turn out to be!
Right in the middle of SXSW, we decided to take a Saturday and film the entire thing in one location. At first we had plans to film multiple places and pull it altogether for a video that only involved me instead of a band. But within the first few takes, both of us were fairly certain that we were getting all the footage we needed.
We ended up shooting at Armadillo Hall in Taylor, TX using the empty space and a few props I bought from a nearby antique shop. Ray brought in a great crew (thanks Rob Surrette, Arturo Cavozos, and Eli Mendoza!), and we got to work within minutes of arriving.
Ray was a great person to work with, highly professional, and he has an incredible eye for camera shots. I was totally sold on the video after merely watching the first two or three playbacks.
I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do, and please head over to Ray’s page and like it to follow his other work!
– Daniel Whittington