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. =)