I’m shooting a new music video for the Scranton-based band “The Great Party” this coming weekend in Clarks Summit, PA. It’s going to be a Day-of-the-Dead themed, Mexican style fiesta, complete with face paint, graveyard digging and singing from inside of a coffin.
Rosaleen Eastman, one of the five members of the band, and I are old high school friends. I directed the video for their song “Teresa” last year. The video was a glossy, fun, ’90s throwback of mistaken identity, shot with five people over two days. It was their first music video and my first as a director. We had a blast finding our way together and decided to repeat the process on a second video. This time for a song called “Hecho en Mexico.”
Listening to the two songs back to back really shows the band’s range. “Teresa” is a catchy pop song sung by Rose. “Hecho en Mexico” is more rock and roll-y and it’s sung by Rose’s husband, Michael. It’s got a bit of a swing to it with the rest of the band singing/shouting backup vocals. (Wow, it’s hard to describe music in words. Both songs are available on iTunes if you want to hear them.)
In thinking about the new video, I tried to keep the idea for the “Hecho en Mexico” simple. Members of the band in Mexican Day-of-the-Dead makeup dig up a coffin with Michael (singing) in it and carry it to a party where he performs.
I typically work as an editor, where there are fewer possibilities and more necessities. For example, we have “this” and “this” in the edit, we need “that” to make it work. I know what we need to get to finish the piece.
As a director, the possibilities are more open. At times they seem overwhelmingly endless. But this time around, I’m embracing the idea of trying different things on set. When I think back on the “Teresa” shoot, I was so confident in how the video was going to go together that I didn’t do enough variations in performance. When I look at the eight takes of performance, I can barely notice the differences.
It’s been an informative but difficult experience looking back on the “Teresa” video in preparation for the “Hecho” shoot. I see many things that I could have done differently. Many things don’t read as well as I had hoped, and I think I failed to capture a lot of stuff I saw or felt on set.
There is a lot of stuff in the video that works great, but I was trying to put too much story in. It’s a bit hard to follow and is bogged down with information. I think the audience is struggling to keep up with what’s happening instead of enjoying watching the video.
For “Hecho,” I hope that keeping the plot simple will allow more of the style to shine. It’s not about revealing information but living longer in this world. That’s how I’ve been thinking about it.
So what is this world going to be like? What exactly will the bands makeup look like?
How are we going to show them digging in an interesting way? How can we light the party? Inside the coffin?
Right now, the shoot is days away and many of these decisions are being made. Still, the sky is the limit in terms of what we will actually shoot and the video has huge potential (though the weather is not looking great currently).
“What will we do if it rains?” Rose asks me.
“Improvise,” is all I can think to answer.