Artist : Shawn Colvin
Song : We All Fall Down
Album : All Fall Down
Director : Raymond J. Schlogel
Production Company : Underground Planet
Copyright : Nonsuch Records
While standing in the middle of an empty field shooting Aron Dees - American Dirt vid (vimeo.com/41398373) I got a rather staticy call from someone from Warner Brothers asking if I might be interested in doing a simple video for Grammy Award winning Shawn Colvin. Though I was missing every other word they said I told them enthusiastically "I'm in!" The couple things I could make out from the conversation was that they wanted something simple, they didn't want to be literal and perhaps similar to the one I did for Daniel Whittington's "Never Go Home" (vimeo.com/38739944) which they especially liked. The last thing I heard was that they were going to send over the song for me to give a listen and see what I can come up with.
After getting home from the days shoot the song was in my inbox waiting. With my crew still unpacking gear I pressed play. Often times I have to hear a song a good hundred or so times before the visual comes to mind but on this one it was almost immediate. Knowing that they liked Daniel's and also knowing that I didn't want to repeat myself, by the time it hit the chorus it was already there. For me upon the first listen, with the sparseness of the first verse I was ever so pleasantly surprised when the chorus kicked in. Keeping in mind not wanting to be literal the theme for me was more matching the tone of the song rather than lyrical.
I could totally see the one person clapping circling around her and then when it hit the wonderful surprisingly full chorus to capitalize on that and just have random organized irreverent chaos enter the frame, having them exit at the end of the chorus and someone clapping reentering the frame. As Shawn herself later described it, "a visual cacophony." Leave it to the songwriter to better describe what I was going for than I could =)
First things first I called a First AD I'd wanted to work with for awhile, Michelle Millette (goingforpicture.tumblr.com), she dug it and jumped on board right out of the gate. Right away we began casting, looking for people with "visual talents." Some of which I had already had in mind but was open to more. Thankfully we got a great response. On casting there is a funny aside, when I pitched the original concept I was tossing out all sorts of miscellaneous types of characters that I was hoping to get. In that list I offhandedly mentioned perhaps a guy in a bear suit. For some reason this set off a bit of an alarm bell among some involved. As none of what I was wanting to do was written in stone it was no big deal but when I met with the parents of the younger performers and made a mention of that the mother of the two unicyclists offered up the fact that her kids had gorilla outfits that they had performed in. Sometimes I have a great idea, other time's it seems great ideas are simply handed to me on a silver plate. Kinda funny that while we had gotten a bunch of great people two of the visuals that I had wanted and saw during my first listen, a drum major and ballerina, were the last two people to get cast.
Must also take a moment to mention the location which we filmed at The Swan Dive here in Austin Tx (swandiveaustin.com). I'm mentioned this elsewhere but as is often the case I'm always making mental book marks of cool locations I'd like to shoot at. From all the pictures I'd seen of the club I knew it would be the perfect backdrop. They couldn't have been more accommodating,
On the day of shooting I had intentionally over-cast the performers, much in the same way airlines overbook their flights knowing that there will be some drop outs I was fairly confidant that some who had committed might not show and beyond that I really couldn't have too many if they all did. The one issue with doing it in that regard is that I had to choreograph everyone who showed up on the fly. While the crew was busy setting up the lights and removing a table and chairs that were in the spot just behind her that I hadn't realized in my scouting that they were actually bolted to the floor, I made a quick list of all the available talent and hid in a corner. I laid out three pieces of paper for the three choruses and started breaking it down, I really thought it would be just a rough draft till I saw it all in action but it played out perfectly. The placement of each fell in line quickly for the various segments as well as for the grand finale where all would be either taking a position or passing through.
Of the many kudos I could give to Shawn and her awesomeness, the one I'd like to mention specifically was that the jugglers wanted to do the tosses in front and behind her, despite my inclination to just say "no" I decided to pitch it to Shawn as she would be the one getting biffed in the head if something went awry. She pretty much just said "sure" and never flinched once while it was going on even though she said she could feel the breeze as they were passing by. Ya gotta love that lady =)
Not counting rehearsal's that day that didn't have Shawn in the chair we did a total of 17 takes. We filmed two different versions as per the label's request so around half those were one way and the other half another. Three takes were cut (blown) under a minute. Another 3 takes were cut (blown) at about the halfway mark. For a one take vid with a lot of moving parts I don't think that's too shabby!
Cast & Crew
Alex Shelley - Unicycle Gorilla
Alex Armonta - Hula Hoop
Bethany Berg - Contortionist
Chris Bailey - Poi Spnner
Callie Erwin - Clapping Girl 1
Camille Pinkerton - Gymnist
Christopher Bailey - Poi Spinner
Chris McMillan - Drummer
Daniela Bustillos - Ballet Dancer
Etienne McGinley - Juggler
Eslerh Gomez - Mime
Jack Shelley - Unicycle Gorrilla
Jane Jennings - Belly Dancer
Kelsey Strauch - Juggler
Lila Parrish - Gymnast
Sarah Kihls - Roller Skater
Timeca Seretti - Clapper 2
Direct/Shoot/Edit - Raymond J. Schlogel
First AD - Michelle Millette
Crew: Matthew Friede
Hair: Shawna Parvin
Makeup: Mandy Wright
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