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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

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Feb , 15

12

Ramjaane Muchoma – Holla

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: banditacouture.com

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! tinyurl.com/lohwv9w

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Oct , 14

14

Cloutier – I Look Good

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.

justcloutier.com/
facebook.com/justcloutier

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Aug , 12

6

Adam Carmichael – Heaven Knows

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.

adamfcarmichael.com/

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Jun , 12

12

Shawn Colvin – We All Fall Down

Artist : Shawn Colvin
Song : We All Fall Down
Album: All Fall Down
Director: Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
Copyright ; Nonsuch Records

While standing in the middle of an empty field shooting Aron Dees – American Dirt vid I got a rather staticy call from someone from Warner Brothers asking if I might be interested in doing a simple video for Grammy Award winning Shawn Colvin. Though I was missing every other word they said “I’m in!” The couple things I could make out from the conversation was that they wanted something simple, they didn’t want to be literal and perhaps similar to the one I did for Daniel Whittington’s “Never Go Home” which they especially liked. The last thing I heard was that they were going to send over the song for me to give a listen and see what I can come up with.

After getting home from the days shoot the song was in my inbox waiting. With my crew still unpacking gear I pressed play. Often times I have to hear a song a good hundred or so times before the visual comes to mind but on this one it was almost immediate. Knowing that they liked Daniel’s and also knowing that I didn’t want to repeat myself, by the time it hit the chorus it was already there. For me upon the first listen, with the sparseness of the first verse I was ever so pleasantly surprised when the chorus kicked in. Keeping in mind not wanting to be literal the theme for me was more matching the tone of the song rather than lyrical.

I could totally see the simple one person clapping and then just random organized irreverent chaos. As Shawn herself later described it, “a visual cacophony.” Leave it to the songwriter to better describe what I was going for than I could =)

First things first I called a First AD I’d wanted to work with for awhile, Michelle Millette, she dug it and jumped on board right out of the gate. Right away we began casting, looking for people with “visual talents.” Some of which I had already had in mind but was open to more. Thankfully we got a great response. On casting there is a funny aside, when I pitched the original concept I was tossing out all sorts of miscellaneous types of characters that I was hoping to get. In that list I offhandedly mentioned perhaps a guy in a bear suit. For some reason this set off a bit of an alarm bell among some involved. As none of what I was wanting to do was written in stone it was no big deal but when I met with the parents of the younger performers and made a mention of that the mother of the two unicyclists offered up the fact that her kids had gorilla outfits that they had performed in. Sometimes I have a great idea, other time’s it seems great ideas are simply handed to me on a silver plate. Kinda funny that while we had gotten a bunch of great people two of the visuals that I had wanted and saw during my first listen, a drum major and ballerina, were the last two people to get cast.

Must also take a moment to mention the location which we filmed at The Swan Dive here in Austin Tx. I’m mentioned this elsewhere but as is often the case I’m always making mental book marks of cool locations I’d like to shoot at. From all the pictures I’d seen of the club I knew it would be the perfect backdrop. They couldn’t have been more accommodating,

On the day of shooting I had intentionally over-cast the performers, much in the same way airlines overbook their flights knowing that there will be some drop outs I was fairly confidant that some who had committed might not show and beyond that I really couldn’t have too many if they all did. The one issue with doing it in that regard is that I had to choreograph everyone who showed up on the fly. While the crew was busy setting up the lights and removing a table and chairs that were in the spot just behind her that I hadn’t realized in my scouting that they were actually bolted to the floor, I made a quick list of all the available talent and hid in a corner. I laid out three pieces of paper for the three choruses and started breaking it down, I really thought it would be just a rough draft till I saw it all in action but it played out perfectly. The placement of each fell in line quickly for the various segments as well as for the grand finale where all would be either taking a position or passing through.

Of the many kudos I could give to Shawn and her the one I’d like to mention specifically was that the jugglers wanted to do the tosses in front and behind her, despite my inclination to just say “no” I decided to pitch it to Shawn as she would be the one getting biffed in the head if something went awry. She pretty much just said “sure” and never flinched once while it was going on even though she said she could feel the breeze as they were passing by. Ya gotta love that lady =)

All told, save a few false starts, somehow we were able to get this in about ten full takes, in fact we actually had a few to choose from out of those ten. With all the moving parts and it being a one take vid I really expected a much longer day. All credit goes to the cast and crew for doing such an amazing job.

shawncolvin.com/

Cast & Crew

Alex Shelley – Unicycle Gorilla
Alex Armonta – Hula Hoop
Bethany Berg – Contortionist
Chris Bailey – Poi Spnner
Callie Erwin – Clapping Girl 1
Camille Pinkerton – Gymnist
Christopher Bailey – Poi Spinner
Chris McMillan – Drummer
Daniela Bustillos – Ballet Dancer
Etienne McGinley – Juggler
Eslerh Gomez – Mime
Jack Shelley – Unicycle Gorrilla
Jane Jennings – Belly Dancer
Kelsey Strauch – Juggler
Lila Parrish – Gymnast
Sarah Kihls – Roller Skater
Timeca Seretti – Clapper 2

Direct/Shoot/Edit – Raymond J. Schlogel
First AD – Michelle Millette
Crew: Matthew Friede
Arturo Cavazos
Eliazar Mendoza
Matthew Friede
Don Elfant

Hair: Shawna Parvin
Makeup: Mandy Wright

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