Dan Graetz has directed some of Violent Soho's best music videos, so we sat down with him to reminisce on what went on behind the camera during those shoots...
This was based off an ambitious clip from DJ Format called Vicious Battle Raps – a single un-broken shot of the featured rapper abdominal lip-syncing at alternating speeds. Covered In Chrome has huge variations in energy between verse and chorus so it perfectly suited the concept. The band did an admirable job of staying in sync while the song speed shifted around and an even better job of ninja-sprinting between locations. Hot tip for anyone trying to set a clothesline on fire: Shellite is your safest bet but it dries fast. We wasted about three really good takes because our mullet-adorned villain couldn’t light the clothes.
There’s a fun behind-the-scenes of this called Filming In The Fetal Position that explains the complexity of this shoot better than I ever could in a paragraph. I have a very short attention span and rarely make it through watching an entire music video. I find myself executing oners (single-shot clips) as a way of holding attention – the viewer can’t help but wonder what will happen next in the absence of cuts. Props to Alfonso Cuaron’s Children Of Men for providing the big budget influence for our low budget Macgyvering. Double props to the amped fans that came out in force and SPRINTED on every take. Triple props for the sheer miracles pulled off by my long time producer Benjamin Evans, as he does on every one of my music videos.
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I’d been messing around with Motion Control for a while – that’s where a big robot can repeat identical camera moves at varying speeds. I’d just completed an epic piece for Z-Flex Skateboards where the skater was in slow motion while the world around was in timelapse and wanted to apply the same technique to a music video. Soho were looking for something trippy and it just fell into place.
Dear aspiring filmmaker: Never consider doing old man prosthetics in 35 degree Australian summer. Also, the drone flying in this clip is now highly illegal. I can’t remember the name of the pilot. The elderly ladies in this clip were the most up-for-it talent I’ve ever worked with. The one who has her skirt stolen by Mikey’s jumper leads used to go to a church I attended before Jesus stole my girlfriend. The shoot had to be postponed once due to a gastro outbreak and then it was almost shutdown on the day after a tense altercation with an entitled Boomer who really loves to bowl.
The band wanted an El Scorcho slacker vibe and the best way to communicate that was to shoot on green screen, but not be bothered to remove the green screen in post. To get the camera in tricky places, in yet another single shot, we used a snorkel lens mounted to a Technocrane on a dolly (Google it). It meant we had eight axes of motion… ladies, form an orderly queue.
My proudest technical achievement on this clip was working out how to broadcast the song to three fan cars and two camera cars simultaneously and film over the Gateway Bridge without getting arrested. Shooting the band lit by nothing by car headlights was about as fun as it gets for a film nerd. Jump-starting 15 dead car batteries after we wrapped was less fun.
When the band hit me up with their initial idea for this clip my reaction was, “Why couldn’t I get the clip that was just a locked-off shot of a house for four minutes?” The whole idea relied heavily on the charisma and door-to-door sales experience of one James Tidswell. We had eight cameras rolling on the door-knocking, one of which was a spy camera mounted in a keyless entry remote carried by Mikey (it regrettably didn’t make the cut). In the interests of responsible producing we had a couple of houses loosely informed that someone might pay them a visit. The rest were legitimate cold calls. The drone-flying in this clip is borderline legal. I can’t remember the name of the pilot.
Connect with Dan Graetz here.
Violent Soho's new album, Everything Is A-OK, is out this Friday.