I know I haven’t been tumblin’ much lately, but while I’ve been gone The Narrative premiered my newest music video! A ton of work from some awesome people went into this, and I’m pretty fucking stoked on the end result, so give it a watch (pleeeeaaase?).
The whole idea for this came only a week before we shot, when Suzie, hilaryjcorts and myself met up on the Friday night after Halloween. We hashed out the main idea from some loose ideas that Suzie had, and after about an hour started working on a shot list and the progression of the story, knowing we would have to figure out a lot of what we were doing on the fly.
We (Hilary, my brother and I) shot this entire video in one long 14-hour November day in an empty house in Allentown, PA. A family member of Suzie’s husband owns it and had yet to renovate it, which was why there were so many bizarre wallpapers still up throughout the house. Other than the (excellent!) makeup artist and the LED panel lights, we essentially had no budget. The entire thing was shot on the Canon 5D Mark II’s that Hilary and I own, and a couple shots were from my brother’s Canon t3i (most notably the one slow-mo shot in the “ballroom” scene), and we used a 50mm f1.8, 24-70 f2.8L, and a 70-200mm f2.8L IS.
I can’t say enough about how awesome Suzie & Jesse were throughout the whole day. It was freezing in the room that we shot the performance stuff in (and it was some of the earliest stuff we shot), they held remarkably still take after take during the “doll” scenes, and spent the end of a long day - the hardest part, really - in crazy makeup, wigs and tutus (speaking of those, they also brought all the props which was HUGE). Without their performances there’s zero chance this video would be worth a damn. That said, Suzie’s sister Vicky knocked her role out of the mother fucking park. She was the perfect person to match the blend of creepy & innocent that we were looking for, and anybody else in that role would have made the video suffer.
Some other random notes:
- One thing I learned is make sure you have something loud enough for playback. It was such an afterthought that almost became a big problem. When I shot this video with The Republic of Wolves back in 2010, the performance shots were all done in a theater in Riverhead, so we were able to run the song through the speakers to make sure the band was playing in time. The iHome we had for The Narrative’s video, however, wasn’t nearly loud enough - even with just Suzie and Jesse and no drums. Won’t make that mistake again.
- Our plan was to get the whole thing shot before sundown, which was part of the reason for going low-budget on lights. Unfortunately the sun was gone at about 5/6pm, so we just had to deal with it. Luckily, we saved all the “doll” scenes for the end of the day so in the long run it sort of added to the more jarring look of those shots. It didn’t end up being an enormous problem, but it was a little soul-crushing that day.
- Considering how rushed the whole process was, we really didn’t actually miss anything while filming. Between the 3 actors, 3 camera operators, and an assortment of friends/family that fluctuated between 1-6 or 7, everyone pitched in with ideas all day and helped make sure we weren’t forgetting things. It seriously was a group effort. The one thing we didn’t have was a shot of Vicky coming back into the room the first time that Suzie & Jesse “wake up,” so the shot you see in the video is actually comped together in Final Cut. That was Vicky actually coming back into the room after we had yelled ‘cut’ comped into a shot where Suzie & Jesse were still holding their poses.
- The shots of Suzie & Jesse against the wallpapers were an improvisation in the middle of the day. I kept walking past these rooms trying to figure out how to show more of the house and the idea just came to me. We tried to line them up the best we could so the edits would end up looking more seamless, but I had to remind myself that they weren’t priority and that we couldn’t spend more than 20 minutes getting them all. There were even more rooms that we never used and I would have shot there all week if we had the chance.
tldr; PLEASE WATCH and SHARE, and also I’d love to hear thoughts/feedback from anyone. This baby ain’t perfect, but god damn I love it.