Friday July 17, 2009
Here we are. Day 1 of the music video shoot for White and Crazy Kids (W&CK). All our prep and hard work and drama that's unfolded over the last two weeks has all come down to this.
The day started off a little weird. Since we knew we would be going late tonight, and didn't want to shoot in the desert until afternoon/evening, we didn't even meet up for the drive to Lancaster until about 12. Because we didn't start too late, the first half of Friday felt like we should have been shooting something but weren't and that the day was wasting away. I was anxious to shoot even though we had plenty of time and I know we had scheduled it this way.
Paul Niccolls (our DP) and I headed over to Dan's around 10. I wanted to go over the budget a little bit and we still had the issue of where we would be shooting the club.
I wasn't able to post on Thursday, because of the 3Questions segment, but we found out that The Playhouse, a club we supposedly had on lock according to our "event coordinator" (I use quotations for a reason you'll soon discover) was lost to a movie premiere party. We always had the club Element on lock for Monday as a back up, but shooting Monday would require us to take Sunday off, yet still pay for some of our equipment, thus increasing the budget.
I got a call from the event coordinator Thursday night, at like 11, saying that she had a bunch of clubs to show me and she needed me to drive her around. I told her I would call her back and then dropped it. I was shooting the next morning, like hell I was gonna go around looking at clubs. Tell me what they are and I'll look at them online and tell you yes or no! And, I knew that if I drove her, I'd get stuck with her all night. At this point, with Element becoming more and more likely, the only reason we were even speaking the to the event coordinator was because they would be bringing in extras and some featured girls for the video. But I spoke to Dan that evening and he said we'd go through and extras agency for background and we'd find girls another way.
After all that was figured out, we all met up at Dan's house in North Hollywood, and as soon as Luke and Randall showed up in the Lamborghini (which changed from blue to yellow by the way, a choice that in the end was far better) we headed out for the hour drive to the desert location.
We shot with a very stripped down crew Friday. Not only did we not need a lot of people, as we didn't require hardly any G&E (Grip and Electric) but also as a way of cutting our costs, as we were pushing our budget to the max. We ended up getting to the local a little later than I wanted, leaving us about four hrs to shoot our scenes before we lost the light to the sun.
The scene involved Randall and Luke waking up in the desert after a weekend of blacking out. With them is the Lamborghini and they have no recollection of how they got it (the video is very much inspired by The Hangover).
In the car they find a flip cam, which reveals to them what happened and sends us into the music video portion of the video.
We shot on the RED camera. I had used it once before on a shoot for the Esfand video. And while it looked great on that, we were shooting on a wide lens, with a blue background behind the subject, and I really didn't get a chance to push the camera and really test it out. Well, I got my chance this past weekend. We had that thing in every conceivable position and local: handheld, sticks, Steadicam, in the desert, on a stage, moving through house party. We shot in a variety of light, on a variety of lens, and I must say that with the images I saw on the monitor, I am extremely impressed with this camera. Not only does it look like a beast, as you can see, but the images on it, the color, is spectacular. I can't wait to start editing this and see how it looks on a television.
We shot at 4k 24fps for most of the video but on occasion we did move to 3k 48fps for slow motion work. Unfortunately, the RED has yet to make shooting 48fps at 4k a possibility, and there are some technical drawbacks, as the frame size of 4k and 3k are different. The work around on it however, is fine, as this will probably not be broadcasting on an HDTV or be provided on Blue Ray (though who knows), so we can adjust what we need to while maintaining quality.
For our performance scenes, we shot 4k 24fps with a 1/96th shutter, which gives a slightly sharper imaged, a much more stylized image, a technique you find in a lot of music videos.
The last shot of the video shows Luke and Randall driving off into the sunset on their way to the next round of debauchery. So, we had a wide open desert road, no one around, so why not have Luke and Randall punch it.
I have to say too that we did all of our Friday shoots without permits, and I was really worried that for some reason a cop would show up and we'd be screwed. But, I had also chosen a location that was in a fairly secluded spot. While a number of cars did pass us on that road, we never saw a cop and I got everything I needed.
After we wrapped the desert, we all hopped back in the cars and made our way back down to Hollywood. We had three more shots to get: 1) Luke and Randall performing in the car 2) Luke and Randall driving through Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd and 3) Luke and Randall arriving at the club.
When we arrived back at Dan's place in North Hollywood, there's was some drama between crew members that completely slowed the momentum of the shoot. We had to set up the shot for a the performance in the car, which we would be shooting using a technique called "poor man's process." Normally, you have a process trailer that you park the car on and you tow it around, with cameras on the trailer shooting your subjects. That way they can concentrate on performing, not on driving, and you can shots that don't require you to have a camera in the car (something that is impossible in a Lamborghini).
We didn't have a process trailer, so I used a technique that Michael Bay uses (I know, but this is really great). We set up the car and lit the inside. Then, we had crew members on the sides of the car, flashing lights past them to mimic street lights, and we shook the camera slightly, made it a little more wild, to mimic a moving car and bam, poor man's process. Since the cuts to the car are so quick, it works.
However, it took us forever to make this happen. Not only was the drama effecting the work but we were planning to keep the car lit for our driving shots down Sunset and Hollywood Blvd. We lit this using little 12 inch fluorescent bulbs which are powered by an inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter. But, for some reason, the Lambo's cigarette lighter didn't work. So, we had to wire it up to another car and run cables to the car. This was fine for the shots of the parked car but we needed a solution of this car was going to drive.
The inverter can also clip right onto the battery, so we thought we'd do that. Well, apparently opening the engine hood of a Lamborghini is a specialized process. We spent probably 45 minutes looking for a button or lever that would pop that thing. We looked on the Internet for an owner's manual. We called the guy who owns it! Nothing. I still have no idea how to pop the hood of that car. Now, it was looking like we were screwed.
Finally, we just pulled a battery from our producer's car, through it in a shopping back, and placed it between Luke's feet on the passenger side of the car. Problem solved, we loaded the RED into the back of my friend Chris's Tahoe, popped the glass part of the hatch and headed out.
We shot the guys driving down both Sunset and Hollywood and it looked great. Now, all we had was one last shot, a stolen shot (meaning we didn't have permission) of the guys pulling up in the Lambo, getting out and walking to the club. We debated for a half hour how to go about doing it and I could tell that the chaos of that was getting to every body. We finally decided to just lead the guys right up to The Playhouse (which has a marquee that is like a giant softbox) and just shoot out the back of the car, have them get out, walk a little ways and then out.
We nailed it, it went off flawlessly and we called it a wrap at about 1AM.