Behind the scenes director’s commentary from filmmaker Chris Aran on making the music video for Punx Not Dead, I Am from Morning Glory’s album War Psalms, lots of photos on set, the greatest fans and our 12 hours living together in a cardboard box…
Punx Not Dead, I Am | A New York State of Mind
Jimmy McMillin. Ahh Jimmy…
Ezra Kire mentioned bringing Jimmy McMillin on to open our video about living in a cardboard box, and it was almost too perfect. We were so fortunate he agreed to be in the video, and with such enthusiasm to help our homeless friend find his new low income home in the cardboard box (played by Morning Glory’s own, Heavy Metal Chris).
Makeup Artist, Lindsey O’Donnell brought some pretty amazing skills, and pulled through for me at the last minute, creating a cockroach costume basically from thin air. Lindsey and I had collaborated on my short film And Then I Woke Up with such a great attitude and tremendous amount of talent I knew I had to bring her back. Kind of for everything I do at this point.
Gregg Maffia played our man in the roach costume. It came together really well and added a really fun character to the shoot. Because there are two types of people who live in New York: those of us who have encountered cockroaches, and those who lie about it. So I confess. Having shared an apartment with a few in my time, it made me laugh the whole day.
And unless you’re a drug dealer from south-central Los Angeles, who would think that a low income house would have a satellite dish!?
Thats about the equivalent of a beat up Ford Pinto that someone decided to outfit with 22 inch rims and a $7,000 stereo system – doesn’t make sense but it exists. Since I knew a few people who were getting their satellite service stolen when it was a big thing, we thought it would be pretty funny to see someone actually steal the whole dish off the top.
The dog idea came from all those annoying people walking their tiny dogs in the city and not picking up after them, another New York state of mind. As a kid I can’t tell you how many times playing in front of my own building, I stepped in … well, you get the idea but it felt like an invasion of my territory in a way. So of course we had to put a dog in that actually invaded Heavy Metal Chris’ new home.
I never thought I’d say something like this. But I’d like to thank my aunt and uncle for bringing Willie out to pee on a box for me!
Morning Glory | Burning Down the House
And finally, a shout out to our homeless shopping cart pusher. Ezra had this idea about burning down the box in the end. It provided some production safety challenges but in the end we went with campy which also turned out to be the safest way to do it. It all worked in good fun.
Our homeless guy creeps up curious about the noise coming out of Chris’ place, sees the party going down and decides he’s going to se some of the cardboard to warm himself up. Instant heat. Bringing our poor friend Chris back to square one.
Punx Not Dead, I Am for GEEKS (wot’s a fresnel?)
You’re a fresnel…
I’m not a fresnel! You’re a gobohead…
I’m not a gobohead, you’re a…
Forget it – this is for those who probably already know and might be interested in how we actually did this stuff, but I’ll try and keep it fun…
Pretty early on Jon and I spoke about a few different formats for shooting both Punx Not Dead, I Am and I Am Machine Gun. Due to some of the locations we’d be shooting at for I Am Machine Gun we decided to go with the Canon 5D mark 3 for both videos. It’s an amazing little camera that’s proven itself time and again on a myriad of productions. Its capability and size was perfect for our needs.
For Punx Not Dead, I Am we used Zeiss CP2 lenses and shot the whole video handheld for that chaotic feel. With the Magic Lantern Firmware installed, we were able to get that crazy fast moving action during the opening of the song by shooting at 12 frames per second and playing it back at 24 frames per second. That little trick was a lot of fun while the song was playing really fast.
For the shot with Ezra in the shopping cart, we used a combination of Gobo Heads and Arms attached to a Cardellini clamp that mounted directly to the cart. A little Manfrotto sliding base plate attached to the top of the gobo head was how we got the camera on the whole rig. Worked great.
Jon used a bunch of Arri 650 Fresnels to provide a hard backlight for the set and used a few Arri 1k fresnels bounced into a 8×8 white frame providing a softer key light. The whole setup allowed us to move around and shoot the stuff without worrying about bumping into gear on the ground… which would’ve been bad. Oh, and…
We used a BIC lighter to burn down the box – but don’t you try it in/on/around your own home (or anyplace else)!
So there ya go!
Wrapping the Morning Glory – Punx Not Dead, I Am Filming
After 12 hours on set, over 2 weeks of prep and a total of 3 days shooting for two videos, wrapping up Punx Not Dead, I Am was both a pleasure and a touch sad. I was more than ready to sleep but was sad to let all the great people who came through and collaborated with us go.
It was a weekend of work for the love of the music and film and everyone put their all into it. Thanks to my great crew, Chris Villafuerte, Jon Fordham, Nadine Martinez, Glen Chin, Roberto Serinni, Juan Aybardiaz, Lindsey O’Donnell, Emma Cohen, and Cathy Wolfe (who made some amazing food and deserts that kept us all alive!), and special thanks and behind the scenes photo credit to Alyssa Tanchajja.
And my most heartfelt thanks and respect to Morning Glory, for its talented members, their professionalism – and certainly their AMAZING fans who made it all possible and taught me one thing…
Punx Not Dead, I Am … or at least thats how I felt sunday night after shouting “thats a wrap!” … and in the quiet before the next storm comes I Am Machine Gun
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