Behind the scenes commentary from writer-director, Chris Aran, on making the music video for Punx Not Dead, I Am from the Morning Glory album, War Psalms, with a couple of false starts, friends and synergy, Jimmy McMillin and the Brooklyn invasion…
If you saw the main page for the Punx Not Dead, I Am music video, you know that we had intitially planned to shoot an entirely different music video for Morning Glory’s song Standard Issue that I found quite entertaining. We also discussed shooting another (very cool) track called I Am Machine Gun, but this was all in that conceptual stage that happens before every film, with random ideas tossed about until things begin to gel.
Ezra did a lyric video for the Standard Issue track so it seems fun to include it here for context…
I Am Machine Gun is In – Standard Issue is Out
It became clear that I Am Machine Gun would definitely happen with what would become a pretty involved production using a specialized camera stabilizer called a MoVI which we used to capture amazing stabilized motion shots. And you have to know that if you spend upwards of $16k on something that basically holds a camera, it’s got to do some drop-dead things you can’t do any other way. It delivered big time, which is another story…
But Ezra has this great idea about a house party that takes place inside a homeless guy’s cardboard box that he wanted to use for Standard Issue. The problem was that its lyric video above had already been released. So it made more sense promotionally to choose something else. He was excited about the possibilities with Punx Not Dead, I Am and all was settled.
We were off and running…
Behind The Scenes Shooting Punx Not Dead, I Am
We started preproduction on Punx Not Dead, I Am and I Am Machine Gun simultaneously.
It was a pretty big challenge because Ezra and I kept going back and forth on our ideas, and sometimes we would be talking about the opposite video. It took us a little while to finally agree to dial one video in really well, then switch gears onto the second. That seemed to work out in the end.
I reached out to my long time Cinematographer friend, Jon Fordham to shoot both videos. I used to work with Jon, on music videos in the mid to late 2000’s and when I decided to leave that scene I told him one day I’d be calling him to shoot something for me. And so the day came.
He’d been doing videos for artists like Sublime, Thursday, and Shiny Toy Guns. Most of the bigger labels like Atlantic, Universal, and Island Def Jam had been hiring him, so of course I figured he’s got more experience in the music video scene. I knew I could trust his eye and feel confident to concentrate on working with the band without worrying about the rest of it.
Morning Glory, Meet Jimmy McMillin
So now I’ve got Jon on board and Ezra’s excited, so we picked a date to make this whole thing happen. After the date was settled, and the box idea was in place, Ezra told me that Jimmy McMillan lived close by and asked if I wanted to get him to introduce the video. By now I’m sure you know I said HELL YES!
Jimmy brought a great addition to our video and was so much fun to have around. The guy has stories for days. Originally I thought we’d only have him for an hour or two, but was really happy he decided to stick around almost the entire day.
I think he had just as much fun as we did!
Morning Glory invades Brooklyn
Ezra found us a performance space on Meserole street in Brooklyn called The Wick which we used to film both Punx Not Dead, I Am and I Am Machine Gun. It was a total clutch move as our previous location dropped days before we were supposed to shoot. The new space was great and we moved our props and people in pretty fast. We set up shop and got ready for two days of non-stop shooting.
It was pure campy fun. For twelve hours. The band pitched in and built the set piece, and the energy and crowd was brought by some of Morning Glory’s core fans. Some of these guys go to all the shows and they brought that life to our video.
The Punx Not Dead, I Am House Party (in a box)
The fans kept everything feeling pretty authentic for the scene. They weren’t actors, they were real fans and it made a huge difference. In the end the video is as much theirs as it was ours. We really wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Having worked in music videos for several years and encountered some wild and reckless behavior from background talent, and the typical intoxicated entourage that seems to plague some shoots, I was admittedly a little nervous knowing that we’d basically have a room filled with a group of punk rock fans that may have never been on a controlled set before. I waited for the fires to put out and thankfully the only real fire we had to put out was our props!
The crowd turned on the energy, gave us some really great moments of completely controlled chaos. But whenever I yelled cut, every single person was alert, attentive and ready for direction. Quite frankly I was shocked, in the best way possible. I think they may actually have ruined music videos for me, because now I’m expecting the level of professional behavior I know I may not find again for a long time.
Next up, you can see some fun on set photos from the shoot and get a bit more behind the scenes commentary and technical detail on how we made the Punx Not Dead, I Am music video from the Morning Glory War Psalms album at: Morning Glory – Punx Not Dead, I Am | Making the Music Video, Part 2