Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shake what ya' Mama gave ya'

The world of the music video is an odd one and I have bumped into it in my artistic endeavors. It's really interesting to see how cheaply and quickly they throw these things together. Here are some old shots I recently found from a music video I did years ago for Waverly Films. I was the Art Director under the Production Designer Patrick McGowan, whom I had met working on the horror flick UNHOLY. Our challenge was to turn a shitty warehouse space into a shitty medical facility for white-coated lab rats and hot chicks to dance about. While you're more focused on the action, you forget I had to track down medical supplies from almost 3 different rental houses and deal with all the assholes that push numbers and papers about what constitutes a full day rental vs. a half day rental.

What follows is the hot mess I barely remember as:

  Joey Negro's "Make A Move On Me"

The extras in this were spot on. This looks like something out of a B-movie from the '50s. I keep waiting for a man in a gorilla suit to jump in with a cosmic ray gun.

Here you can see the special call-in dials and instruments and all kind of do-dads that sell the scene. Some worked, some didn't, we weren't quite sure what some of them even did, but damn if it didn't look official.

There's a microscope, and a sink and a whatever the hell. I know that's the periodic table. This is all important in selling the mind's eye that this space is real and actually exists. This is all smoke and mirrors. It's a porno set without the sex. It's pretend for grown-ups.

You don't even wanna know what's in that jar. These are all props that seem to be absolutely necessary at the very last minute, not matter what, for whatever odd-ball reason. I've seen it a hundred times before. Now imagine driving around New Jersey, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx with all this crap bouncing around in your rented cargo van as you go to Home Depot for the 37th time to buy more paint brushes and God knows what else.

One of the running gags was to over-label everything with red printed labels. We literally had them everywhere, advertising the most obvious of the obvious. We manipulated he machinery for close-ups and you as the audience are never the wiser that it barely works at all.

Here's a little behind the scenes shot as the crew sets the action and everyone pretends to be really important. Here you can see and realize that all four walls of this "room are completely removable. We built it so that the whole set could literally move throughout the warehouse, depending on the need for lighting.

So this DJ, Joey Negro, couldn't make it for the video, so this gigantic paper mache mask is meant as his cameo. Of course that got a label too.

Here's the hero of our story; a lowly test subject a the whim of desire and circumstance. A nice guy, but damn if those electrodes didn't keep falling off all damn day. And every time I see this I can't help but think of that one scene at the start of GHOSTBUSTERS.

It was actually kind of cool to see all these different gals gyrate in freezing warehouse, while I pretended to adjust electrodes and whatever. Sadly their efforts were all for not when I heard through the grapevine that the record company thought the gals weren't sexy enough and digitally replaced them.

Waverly Films has gone on to do more music videos, play with puppets, sell Doritos, etc.

Any way, here's the video, you be the judge....

If you're still interested, I worked on these other music videos purely from a production standpoint and had no artistic input whatsoever.

"Give Me Every Little Thing" - The Juan Maclean

"If U Leave" - Musiq Soulchild featuring Mary J. Blige

"Cherry Chocolate Rain" - Tay Zonday

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Selling you Pretty

So once upon a time I worked with the impeccable David Kalahiki and helped turn Jon Benjamin into Bernie Madoff. Click here to catch up on that story.

I recently found some photographs that beg for another story. Well, I also had assisted David on a "high end/high concept" fashion shoot for Arnaldo Vargas. We had arrived at this photographer's apartment/studio prepared to do 3+ looks for one male model and one female model.

Wardrobe was being donated on the condition they'd be returned in the same condition they were lent from some boutique where a belt costs half your rent. That's something to worry about when you're rushing about with fabric staining creams & powders.

So the female model flaked out  and didn't show the day of the shoot so we were left with only a male model that had to leave by 5pm for his waiter/catering gig. I forgot to mention we started all this at about 9am. The concept behind the look of the shoot was to create a post modern/MAD MAX meets New York Couture with a pseudo-punk rock flare, which was eventually titled "Apocalipchic". Personally I think it looked like Michael Alig on his way to some Varsity sports practice. The other outfits provided a wider range of the make-up styles attempted in harsher geometric shapes and tribal styles, and I don't think the photos that follow adequately represent David's true talents as a make-up artist, but the photographer was happy, the model was comfortable, and if the client is happy - that's all that really matters. And plus I had a unique opportunity to help and learn.

David & I were basically flying by the seat of our pants trying to create different looks from the limited wardrobe and the minimal number of locations afforded us from the studio and apartment. What you don't see listed is our adventures to a rat infested basement and a freight elevator that was made of rust holding hands. David was a true pro, through and through, working within the time constraints the certain looks desired, and even technical issues with the photography equipment as I frantically tried to help him in the best ways I could figure out.

I think the dichotomy of having a female model to play off of the male model would have made the shoot a bit more interesting and provided a flare of variety, especially in pairings for action and color contrasts. But in any endeavor, you do what you can with what you have.

Though I have yet to work again in the world of fashion, I think it was a valuable experience in helping to create and craft not just an image, but the allure of the what is contained in its subject matter. There's action and drama, and it's all from one still, a single frame. Coming from the world of film this puts the principles of advertising and promotion further into focus and also how easily all of much can be manipulated.

I had a blast working with David, always have. I highly recommend his services if you're in need in the New York area. You can check out Arnaldo Vargas' Photography by clicking here.

The Devil is in the Details

You may remember a little while back when I worked a short film, "ReGift Demon" for Yellow Line Pictures where I needed to create a classic fire-engine red Devil. You can click here to catch up on the techniques if you missed out.

After making its rounds with a few festivals and screenings, the short is now available for your viewing pleasure on the Internet.

Enjoy the show.

I'm quite pleased with how the look came out; subtle but definitely dynamic without being over the top. You can click here for a listing of the full cast & crew.