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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Strawberry Roan: the horse, the cupcake, the video

I am still waiting on some pictures to show all of you our most recent video shoot/exploit...words aren't really enough to describe the experience...but you'll have to bear with me for the time being.

This last Saturday we shot our bits for our third music video, for "Strawberry Roan." Since this was just two days after Penny died I wasn't sure if I was in extactly the right frame of mind to do it, but it turned out to be a good thing: it kept us busy rather than moping around the house.

John Doherty directed this one. He's an ex-student of Mary's, and he's a young dude, so he had a vast and enthusiastic pool of fellow students to draw upon for crew and extras. Do you think anyone our age would be willing to work 14 hours straight on a Saturday running lights and a fog machine? Nope, they'd be asleep, or maybe watching old Gumby reruns. At best. So anyway: my advice for all of you bands wanting music videos is that the optimal age for your cast and crew is right around 17 or so. Just feed them pizza and they keep on going!

It was shot in a cavernous private middle school gymnasium out in Chatsworth. I'm not sure how it happened that John secured this place: it was massive. Just the boy's locker room, where we had to change our costumes, was bigger than our house. Possibly bigger than the White House, I don't know: it was big. I gather this is also where the private middleschool children of Chatsworth put on their various theatrical productions, because there also was a stage the size of Estonia in there, and that's where John shot us performing.

We shot all of our stuff on Saturday. It wouldn't have been too spectacularly interesting to watch: it was 14 hours of Mary and I lip-synching and miming our song in different silly costumes (cowboy, biker, priest, etc.) in front of a greenscreen. I gather the idea is that there will be about 10 versions of us up onstage all at the same time, all playing different instruments. Lotsa dry ice. I almost passed out when I tried to play the alto saxophone while dancing around in heavy biker boots. Mary accidentally smashed our ukulele, Pete Townsend-style. We had over twenty costume and makeup changes that day, with an average of three minutes' time allotted for each one. Many, many thanks to Erica the costume designer and Sonja the makeup artist who helped us through that...I can still feel the sponge used to put on the fake stubble...and I got an amazingly cool cowboy shirt out of the deal, too!

No, REALLY the exciting stuff was on Sunday, when the dancers/extras arrived. There were, on top of the crew of 20, at least 40 dancers involved in this thing--and it was choreographed by a proper choreographer, not just someone saying "okay...um...dance!" which is probably how I would have done it. I wasn't around to witness this (I was out running around buying food for everyone) but my understanding is that there's a 'Beat-It' style dance/fight between dancers dressed as pirates and dancers dressed as ninjas. Plus lots more dry ice (so much so that, in fact, it set off the smoke alarms and the fire department showed up). There was also:

-a breakdancing rabbi (leading to one moment when the director could be heard yelling "Jews! Where are my Jews?!?")
-a terrified, crowd-surfing nun
-poodle-skirted 1950's girls
-dancing priests
-dancing bikers (our babysitter Jade is one of these)
-ghosts, consisting of people wearing sheets with eyeholes cut out, à la "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
-a lumberjack doing back flips

I'm sure there's also more stuff I'm forgetting. Cripes. I should be getting some pictures back from the lab today or tomorrow, and if any of them turn out I'll post some.

I just have to say that we feel very, very lucky that so many talented and nice people were so enthusiastic and generous with this project. That goes for all our videos: 3 exceptionally cool videos in two years is pretty amazing, I think! John, Locke, Cody: many, many thanks.

Oh yeah: I could hear a lot of discussion among the extras about what a "strawberry roan" actually is. One dancer thought it was "some cupcake flavor." Well no, it's actually a kind of horse. I'm not going to say anything more than that.

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