I Am Machine Gun by Morning Glory was directed by Chris Aran and is the second video off the album War Psalms. With a guerrilla style shooting approach, the action was captured as quietly as possible at an abandoned insane asylum in Essex New Jersey.
I Am Machine Gun – Chris Aran directs Morning Glory
What happens when you get a band together like Morning Glory and a filmmaker like Chris Aran who’s willing to shoot just about anywhere? You get a suggestion to climb through a window at an Asylum and shoot an incredible looking location for the sake of art.
I Am Machine Gun was a track that Morning Glory frontman Ezra Kire presented to me along with Punx Not Dead, I Am for a potential video shoot. I loved both tracks but felt that I Am Machine Gun had a larger scale sound and wanted to do something that resembled more of an action piece than the comedy we went with on Punx Not Dead, I Am.
After a few conversations and some location scouting, Ezra Kire and I settled on a great looking location in New Jersey. We drove to the Asylum, walked around the snow covered property and felt really comfortable with the idea of shooting there. It was so far away from the major roads, we felt like we could shoot there undisturbed. Reality however proved a bit different.
Morning Glory – I Am Machine Gun and the police
It was easy enough to convince Ezra Kire to shoot our video in the Asylum, but now we had to convince the rest of Morning Glory and cinematographer Jon Fordham to jump on the band wagon and climb through a window to shoot the video.
This was no easy task as we discovered a few short days before shooting the video that people had been arrested for trespassing on the property. Our intentions weren’t to be destructive, but simply to shoot a great video in a beautifully dilapidated building. We avoided rooms that were extremely hazardous because lets be honest, we had to be safe.
We knew that to get people involved we had to show them something that looked great, get them excited, and then present the risk. Which is exactly what we did. Ezra Kire and I shot some test footage, I cut it together and presented it to the band and to Jon.
They all loved it. And then we informed them of the conditions. We got a few sideways looks but everyone was still enthusiastic about filming in the Asylum. We then upped the stakes by including Special Ops costumes and prop machine gun weapons. How could a video called I Am Machine Gun not have machine guns in it right?
The day of filming we arrived, we dressed and we crawled through a window into a different world. Morning Glory were in costume, prop weapons and all, and we filmed undisturbed for three and a half hours. The mornings nervousness settled and we all became a bit too comfortable.
Towards the end of the shooting day, Ezra Kire told us he might have seen a vehicle patrolling the property. With the final scene pending we had to rush. The slight fear of getting stopped and the possibility of loosing all the days work put us into the fastest shooting mode we’d been in all morning.
After completing our final scene, we all gathered back in the room we started in ready to climb back out and head off the property to shoot some of the aerial exteriors with my buddy Roberto Serrini. Except Ezra was missing. I called him and he answered in a whisper. I found him staring out the window from the second floor. He was staring at a patrol car.
I Am Machine Gun – I am still free thanks to Morning Glory
You can imagine the fear that struck. I spotted the patrol car myself and then saw an officer step out and begin walking towards the very window that we were all about to climb out of. The whole days work would have been over in an instant. Self preservation kicked in and we gathered our group trying to find an alternate exit.
Now I will say again, we did this for the sake of art. Some people take to the streets and treat a public wall like a canvas. Some build their statues onto subway ventilation grates. Morning Glory came to the Asylum to take only the images of its decayed beauty with it using it as a backdrop for the message in the song I Am Machine Gun.
With that at stake, we could not get stopped. After running around trying to be silent and making more noise than we should have, the patrol car seemed to have moved on. We used the opportunity and left the building. For the four hours we spent getting great footage, that was the longest 20 minutes of the day.
We finished the afternoon with some aerial shots and some exterior running footage. We were greeted by a patrolman during the exterior scenes but he was extremely pleasant and was genuinely interested in the gear we were using. It was the first time he’d seen a MoVI M10 so thats where his focus stayed. Lucky for us.
Filming I Am Machine Gun by Morning Glory turned out to be an exhilarating experience. The guerrilla style shooting approach at the Asylum in Essex New Jersey not only got the blood pumping, but provided us with some amazing looking footage. I’m excited for the next project with the band. Make sure to sign up below and keep up with us!