And I Knew What It Was All Along

August 26, 2011

I was supposed to start this months ago – write a blog to coincide with each music video I direct.  It’s supposed to be an exercise in keeping my journalling active on the making-of Cheer For Your Life (my upcoming film, which I’m desperately behind on journalling about so maybe this blog-per-music video will work like it’s supposed to).  So here I am alone in a hotel room in the Nashville area at midnight finding myself completely bored.

Too tired to edit anymore but not tired enough to sleep.  This is where my brain always finds itself this time of night.  I want to keep working but get scattered and unfocused.  Facebook has become a yawn-fest by this time as most regular type folk have tucked in for the night.  Just boredom.  There’s only so much Nip/Tuck I can watch in an evening (it’s midway through Season 4 for me right now.  I never watched the show in it’s regular run though urged by an ex-girlfriend to give it a try.)

Anyhow on to what I’m here to talk about.  A month or two ago I directed a music video for fellow Gavin, Gavin Slate.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

The song is titled “Falling” and it’s the simple lyrical tale of a man coming to terms with the fact that the feelings he has have been love for a certain someone all along “and I knew what it was all along… I was falling for you…”.  My take on the concept was the bittersweet realization of too little, too late.  I’ve been there.  I think many of us have.  So the concept I pitched to Gavin was simple.

See the finished video here if you haven’t already:

[youtube.com/watch?v=UVV1yHLC6eI]

Actually I should explain how I met Gavin Slate.  It’s always a bizarro world for me how these projects come together.

I had written treatments for a wonderfully wicked singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega at the request of her label.  I did my duties there and submitted them and not long after saw that she was having a CD Release party in Toronto.  Turns out we have a mutual good friend who ended up inviting me to the same release party.  I had planned on making the drive up from Windsor to be there.  Never hurts if I’ve seen a performer live that I may potentially direct for.  In fact I prefer it.  On the poster for the event I caught on the facebook event page I saw the opening acts.  I figured, I’ll check out their music on Myspace or iTunes before I see them open for Lindi.  For me there is nothing worse than being at a concert and watching openers that I don’t know their music.  I like to have lyrics to sing along with and know a little about a band/act first.  Gavin Slate was one of these acts.  His name was Gavin so he’s already a rare breed in my books.  I’ve never worked with another Gavin.  That was intriguing on it’s own for whatever silly reason.

I found Gavin’s music online and started listening.  Powerful stuff.  All of it.  His voice in in the vein of Matt Kearney and his somber songs about love and live get trapped in your head and you find yourself humming them hours later.  Naturally I found him on Facebook and sent him a cold message.  “Hey it’s Gavin, blah blah, Lindi’s release, blah blah, like yer stuff, blah, talk to you that night at the event.”

Or something like that.

So within twenty-four hours I got chatting with Other Gavin (when I’m directing he’s Other Gavin and when he’s on stage or the main event I will be Other Gavin that night) about music videos and what track he’s like to do a video for.  We settled on “Falling”.  I had the idea almost instantly and wrote up a quasi-treatment and sent it over.  He liked it right away and bingo – a video was born.  I actually sent two over and for the life of me I can’t remember what the other concept was… hopefully I still have the message – maybe it will end up a video for another artist.  From there we started discussing budget and timing to get the video shot.  I pitched him, as I pitch everyone, the concept of doing the production in Windsor/Essex County.  He was game.  This made me happy because I love working with the rag-tag team of dedicated people Mimetic Entertainment has on set on a regular basis.  The gang would ride again.

Around the same time, Sean Parker over at Parktown Productions put out an incredible offer.  He would provide the Redcam and we’d collaborate for the first time ever so that I could get a taste for the Red having never shot with it and considering it for my next film Cheer.  Not an offer I could turn down.  Sean and I met through my How Many Days? video blogs relating to Kevin Smith and have been Facebook friends ever since.  We’re going to write a screenplay together soon and I know in my gut have many collaborations ahead of us, but how he relates here and now to Gavin Slate was this offer of the camera and coming down for the weekend.  As soon as I knew that date I had Gavin on the phone to get his arse to Windsor for the same time.

So we’re back to Gavin’s song and my concept for it.  I took it as a guy who realized he truly was in love with his girlfriend all along- only he’s realized this after she’s finished kicking him out of the house.  We don’t know what he did but it couldn’t have been good because his clothes, guitar, television, and even couch have been tossed out in her rage.  Not wanting to give up on the relationship he’s realized (as most of us simple minded males do) he doesn’t want to lose even this late in the game, Gavin sets up all of his furniture on the lawn and refuses to leave until she breaks down and lets him back in to talk.  The video essentially is a performance of Gavin on the front lawn as if it’s business as normal in his living room – he’d order a pizza, watch some tv, take a nap, do some light reading – all the comforts of home without the roof over his head.  A test of will that if he stuck it out long enough, his girlfriend would come around and her anger would simmer.

We needed a front yard.  I always go to Marie, who has produced with me pretty much every music video I’ve directed since The Afters “Light Up The Sky” video last October.  Marie is great at brainstorming the needs of any video and an amazing sounding board for me to talk out load at and bounce ideas off of.  We thought of the neighbourhood that had what we’d want in terms of exterior for the house.  We talk about how to approach people who own’d the houses, how to deal with the noise we’d be making at night with a crew on a front lawn.  Of course the simplest solution didn’t come about for a few days; a solution we ultimately went with.

Photo By: Marie Jeannette

My front lawn.  The house that Brian and I live in was absolutely perfect for it but like most times when stressing to lock down elements for a music video or film, I can’t see the lawn for the city as they say.  This was going to be such a simple shoot on the technical end.  Load the gear out onto the lawn and once wrapped load it back in!  No moving cast and crew to multiple locations, sometimes over multiple days.  I was pretty stoked about this.

Of course we had Sean coming down from Ottawa and bringing two assistants, camera operator Ben Walker and Digital Imagine wizard Oscar Welsh.  Two gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting that weekend but, like Sean, hope to work with again – even though Oscar’s going to a film school program next month when he’s already working with world class film people… shame on him!  I won’t hold it against him forever.  With Sean and the gang in town, my place, although the ideal location was not going to work to house our out of town guests.  So I made a call.

“Hi, Mom”.

My mother, “What do you need?”

She knows that I rarely call her because she calls me each and every day at least once.  So when I am calling it’s because I have a request.  This time – to house the crew, Marie and I for two nights since her and my stepfather George have three guest bedrooms.   My mom is a super neat-freak so there was some grumbling but like the good mother she is she agreed.  Who needs hotels when we can arrive at mum’s to pizza already ordered, George’s homemade wine, and hours of great conversation?  Not I.  We settled in, tried to get a good night’s sleep and then in the morning I had to go film a charity event before the set-up for the shoot could begin.

I took off for the morning and first part of the afternoon to film The Breast Ride Ever’s second annual charity motorcycle ride for Breast Cancer.  While I did that the crew and Marie were treated to George’s homemade breakfast.  Fuckers.   I really missed out.  Though I suppose I can rest comfortably knowing I was dedicating my time and camera skills to something bigger than all of us.  Now I want pancakes.  All I have are mini-bagels in this hotel.  They shall have to do for the time being.

While I was filming for charity, Marie was calling around to find ANYWHERE in our cursed city that carried a 7200rpm firewire 800 external hard drive.  We were only able to find one at Henry’s.  An entire city of computer and electronic stores and truly only one that understands the needs of the digital filmmaker.  Pathetic.  It’s not even that uncommon of a drive but I didn’t have a free one and the Red Camera we were shooting the video on required it for storage of the footage.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQlTj-eJPY8]

While this was transpiring and I was still filming from the back of a truck trying to not get whipped in the eye by my shaggy head of hair

Moving on to the afternoon, charity filmed, everyone is gathering at my house.  Marie and I had been taking donations and loan outs on vintage furniture and props to be the content’s of Gavin’s life that would appear on the lawn.  Facebook friends and cast/crew from previous videos brought out some amazing items to use.  That afternoon, setting up, I had a call from Cerah Steele.  She is my hair dresser and an amazing singer/performer herself.  Cerah was going to do hair for the video that evening and happened to be at an estate sale not more than a four minute drive from my house.  She said there was all sorts of vintage stuff there that was going for dirt cheap.  Sean and I hoped in the car and headed over.  Sure enough I spent a bit more than planned in our tiny budget but managed to snag the record player you see at the beginning and end of the video as well as the clock which you see hung on the tree.  Definitely worth the trip, many thank-yous to Cerah and her boyfriend Josh for those findings.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8_hftPgVtQ]

We waited til the sun was setting after scattering the furniture, clothes, etc around the lawn to design phase one of the set.  We shot the first takes with Marie throwing books and final items out of the house while we dolly to the left from the record player Gavin is starting up to seeing the scattered items on the lawn.  Marie’s goal in her career is to be a working actor full-time.  She sorta fell into working behind the scenes with me on a short film I produced for Navin Ramaswaran a few years back.  When looking for the leading lady for this video it became apparent quickly that she’d be perfect for it and given the fact that there isn’t a demanding amount of her time for the scenes necessary she could producer and act in the video without it compromising her producing responsibilities.

Sun sets.  We’re into night which is the majority of our shoot.  There’s no real funny stories to tell about the shoot from this point on.  There’s a behind the scenes video that shows you far better than I can write it.  Marie always shoots a behind the scenes for each music video she produces so we’re sure to add it to the Mimetic Entertainment Youtube Channel playlists for the artist to share with their fans.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYEsjTduKhE]

Photo By: Victoria Strehlau

It was wonderful to have Desiree and Victoria taking photos for us.  Clinton and Sarah are just top-notch and work like dogs to make sure everything is done fast and efficient as they always do on each set.  Logan dug right in as a first timer and really rocked it.  Cerah’s hair stylings were perfection.  Krista’s make-up top notch.  Ben, Sean, Oscar from Ottawa where an absolute pleasure to work with.  We even had film producer Mike Carriere out to lend a hand.

I did find the Red a bit bulky – I’m used to being able to move a smaller camera more often, change shots quicker, do handheld with a shoulder mount rig, just get coverage fast.  With the Red it didn’t work that way so there was a learning curve and adjustment for me in that sense.

It was a contained set to the front lawn and not a lot of motion on Gavin’s part.  His performance was consistant from take to take and that makes the editing a heck of a lot easier.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

There was a cameo from Ted E. Bear – who’s been making the rounds in music videos and a previous feature film of mine.  Great little bear actor he is!  This video is one of the first times I kinda had everything planned out (not on paper of course)  – A lot of one location indie band videos I go in with a basic concept but no real shot list… just knowing the basic story/idea and roll with it.  For “Falling” I knew the majority of the events and knew we could think up more ways for Gavin to pass the time while he was on his front lawn if we had time left over.  One of the cool things we got to do was provide a cameo for Bull’s Eye Pizza… err… more so blatant product placement!

Bull’s Eye Pizza has been so incredible with us donating pizza for the cast/crew of every single music video we’ve every requested of them.  We always tweet and facebook our appreciation for it to help promote their business.  This time however, we thought it would be a funny moment in the storyline for the video if Gavin gets hungry while camping out overnight for his girlfriend to give him the time of day.  So we have him paying for a pizza he’s ordered.  Bull’s Eye Pizza even sent over an extra pizza with some nice bright coloured hot peppers on it to use a the pizza in the video instead of making the crew wait to eat the meal pizzas.  Jon, the owner, also sent Marie back with a small Bull’s Eye Pizza shirt.  The only person in the crew it was going to fit was Oscar, so he went from DIT specialist to actor in the change of a tee.

Photo By: Desiree Nickerson

So that’s about all she wrote.  We filmed until five in the morning or so.  Clean up wasn’t too painful having to just stuff everything back inside the house.  The editing was done a day or so later and Ben over at Parktown turned around the colour correction soon after.  Gavin did a great job – debut music videos can be tricky for an artist sometimes when performing in front of the camera.  You really should all check out his EP.  The songs are fantastic.  We have another video coming your way really soon too.

www.gavinslate.com
myspace.com/gavinslate
iTunes Store for Gavin Slate

For me, thanks for reading and you can catch me on the big, vast, ever growing world wide web through the links under my sign off.

Toodles,

GMB
gavinmichaelbooth@gmail.com
howmanydays.ca
twitter: @gavinbooth
Facebook Page 

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An Open Letter Regarding The International Dragon Boats

July 14, 2011

(or:  How To Lose Complete Focus When Fundraising For Cancer)

I am a proud citizen of Windsor.  I am proud to call this my home.  I am proud to work here with my small business and proud to create my art here.  One of the things I love the most here are the dedicated people who organize some of the best charity fundraisers I have ever seen.  Now I give what I can in cash dollars to the charities I support but as a filmmaker with a loud mouth, throughout the years, I have been asked endlessly to create video promotional material for organizations.  Sometimes it’s videos to promote upcoming events, sometimes it’s video content for galas and events, but mostly it’s documenting events to make a highlight video that can live on for years afterwards.

I have been doing this for ten years and never have I claimed any of the work, equipment, time, or talent as a tax receipt.  That is not why I do it.  I do it because from high school as the geeky little Dawson’s Creekesque kid, I learned that video can bring out raw emotion, sounds and images combined together can make a message stand taller than on paper.  I do it because I feel it would be a waste of my talent to only choose projects that pay my bills.

So today, I am saddened and somewhat baffled by a series of events unfolding.  Last year, I was approached by two very wonderful women- complete strangers to be asking if I would take part in a brand new charity event they had been planning.  The Breast Ride Ever.  They kinda had my pledge at the name alone!  I had just finished up with Transition To Betterness main video commitment for the year and thought: “I’m kinda stretched with all that’s going on this summer but what’s one day, right?”.  I signed on and since that time, I’ve seen nothing but warmth and a general urge to help from both of them and the entire organization.  The 2010 Breast Ride Ever was a smashing success.  There were more motorcycle riders than they had hoped for, the weather was beautiful, and sponsors came out of nowhere to assist (always risky to support a first time charity event because you don’t know if the organizers have it in them to properly go the distance.)

One of the most amazing things that happened was the International Dragon Boats took The Breast Ride under their wing.  This included allowing The Breast Ride Ever to host their ride on the same weekend as the Dragon Boats, use the Dragon Boats home base at Riverside & Manning to have their registration tent, have their riders take part in the beautiful rose ceremony and tribute to loved ones lost, and then kick-off and end their motorcycle ride at the grounds.

My job in all of this was simple.  Bring my camera, film the day, take the footage and edit it together in a way that can be touching, thank the sponsors, and help draw attention to the event for future years of fundraising.  That I did and we posted the video online under a Youtube account I created.  You can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/thebreastrideever .

So here’s where the silliness starts.  In that video, you hear music by four artists.  Three local:  Jody Raffoul, Rick Rock, Glen MacNeil and then The Afters.  In the video, you will also see the Dragon Boat logo modified to have a motorcycle across it.

This logo was modified with full knowledge by The Dragon Boat organizers; they even provided the original art files to The Breast Ride Ever.  The logo was used on banners, all promotional material, and websites, in addition to my video.  Heck, you can see it on all the Breast Ride Ever t-shirts the riders are wearing in the video- the point being – clearly present on the day of the ride and all marketing leading up to the event day.

The song by Glen MacNeil was written for The International Dragon Boats and I filmed it as he performed it during the rose ceremony which you can see in the above Youtube page link (song starts around 1:12 in the video).  Again, the song was provided to The Breast Ride Ever from Dragon Boat organizers on a compact disc which was then passed on to me so I could ingest it into my editing system and use it in the video to blend seamlessly with Glen’s live performance.

The video was released November 24, 2010 and was emailed around to as many people involved with The Breast Ride Ever; including members of The International Dragon Boats.  The comments and emails I received were glowing – I’m not tooting my own horn, I don’t need praise, I’m just happy to know that the video I created served its purpose and can be a heartwarming look back at something a group of Windsorites banded together to create and help fight the ongoing battle to find a cure for cancer.  That’s what it’s all about, right?  That’s what all these cancer charities should be spending their time and budget and efforts and focus on, right?  Finding a cure.  Doing their part to raise the money they can through their fundraising efforts to find a cure?  (Obviously some of the charities help cancer and patients in other ways, I’m not forgetting that fact).

So WHY the next part I’m about to explain to you is happening is beyond me.

This year, the 2011 Breast Ride Ever took place as a completely separate event from The International Dragon Boats.  In fact, the ONLY crossover this year was the fact that in order to ride along the water on our beautiful Riverside Drive, the motorcycle riders passed by the park where The Dragon Boats were taking place once again.  Actually, most of the riders honked and waved and showed their support for their fellow cancer charity- I know, I was there having my hair whipped in my eyes as I filmed from the back of a truck.

Separate why?  Well, that’s a long story of its own but we all know how it goes… sometimes people try to work together, either one or both parties don’t have as pleasant an experience they hoped for and they go their separate ways.  Except we are living in Windsor, which, if the world is two degrees of separation, then Windsor is two degrees and if you include Facebook having a stranglehold on containing us all to being each others friends, then it’s less than that… in fact, you should probably make sure the person you’re sleeping with isn’t related… it’s that small of a community.  So by living here in our lovely little gossip fueled blue collar city, rarely can people walk away from a less than pleasant working experience or artistic endeavour without having to start an all out smear campaign and do whatever they can to rain on the other party’s parade.  Again, I won’t get into full details, those can be disclosed by the people that know them the best.  That’s not the point for this letter- so let’s just leave it at accusations were made, feelings were hurt- and that in my opinion is where it should have stopped, knowing both charity events could live on as completely separate entities.

Where I come in is that The Breast Ride Ever organizers relayed to me not long ago that there may need to be revisions on last year’s video that would remove the Glen MacNeil song and all reference to the Dragon Boat logo w/ the Breast Ride Motorcycle on it.  The organizers of The International Dragon Boats have claimed it is trademarked/copyright material.  To this, I had a full belly laugh and forgot all about.   Today, I get a follow up call stating that The Breast Ride Ever has been served legal papers in the form of a cease and desist claiming once again that the video is infringing on The International Dragon Boats trademarks/copyright material.

The material they are speaking of?  You guessed it:  Glen MacNeil’s song and the altered logo.

My initial reaction?

“They can go fuck themselves!  How does this help anyone with a heart for raising funds to fight cancer and all the problems it creates for the patients and families suffering?!”

My second reaction was much more in-depth as I started thinking back to the 2010 ride.  The song was written for International Dragon Boats but was given to me to use in the video from Dragon Boat organizers.  The live video of Glen performing the song has been in the video since it was posted November 24th, 2010.  The logo was used with permission, again recapping, provided to The Breast Ride Ever and myself from Dragon Boat organizers and their graphic design master file.

So why a cease and desist now?  Also, why a cease and desist at all?

Why now?

Well, because this is where pettiness takes over and one organization wants to pee on another’s parade since they are no longer united.  Is it fear of a 2nd year organization outgrowing The Dragon Boats and competing with them as they continue to grow?  Is it a beef from one organizer to the next instead of focusing on what matters- making YOUR charity event as successful as you can.  Why get lawyers now to ask for a video to be removed when it’s a video that paints your organization in a positive light?  A video that brings attention to your cause?  It’s so ludicrous for this to even be happening.

Why at all?

Now in the corporate world, sure, snuff out your competition, go for your “enemies” at the throat… big business (insert grunting and chest thumping here)- yes, yes I get that.  We’re talking about a charity here.  Why would you go out of your way to cause problems and hold some form of a petty grudge with a charity?  They aren’t your competition!  You’re on the same team.  It’s two different approaches to the same goal.  Heck, we need five more events that take place the same weekend and target different community members to get involved and raise money for cancer.  We need more Terry Foxes and Dragon Boats and Breast Rides and secondary school Walk-A-Thons – bring them on!  Don’t pit them against one another.  HOW FUCKING STUPID, RIGHT?  So what!  You had a bad experience- suck it up and forget about it – don’t even turn an eye of attention towards the people/organization you no longer agree with.  Spend that time finding more sponsors, getting more pledges, adding another team to your races – don’t weigh down the other charity with legal matters over what amounts to pretty much squat all at the end of the day.  How gracious that The Breast Ride Ever organizers allowed you to be included in their video!  They didn’t make it exclusive, they were gracious and loved Glen’s song and loved that it was included.  That’s amazing, not a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Anyhow, here’s the other part.  I, Gavin Booth, created that video from scratch.  I filmed it, I edited it, I produced it, I added the music, the graphics.  Me, me, me.  I made this video of my own free will and my own free offering and own the copyright on all the material created by me within in the video.   The International Dragon Boats are sending the cease and desist to the wrong people.  The Breast Ride Ever did not pay me, I have not signed anything relinquishing my rights to my artistic vision in this short documentary.  So here it is:

I have no plans to remove the video, to alter the video, or to play into something as silly as this.  Both organizations have credit in the community for raising money for cancer – it’s a cause I believe in – and nothing in my video is offensive, nor is there any reason it shouldn’t remain on the Youtube page I created encouraging people to take part in future years of the event.  The altered logo was created with permission, the song was provided to me via the organizers of the Dragon Boats so to turn around NOW and actually take the time and effort to seek out legal council on this is just down right stupidity.

If you think that Glen MacNeil is unhappy about his song and image being used in the video from the 2010 Breast Ride Ever – you’re mistaken.  If fact, here’s an email from Glen stating quite the opposite.

From: Glen MacNeil <****************@facebookmail.com>
To: Nikki Campeau <**********@yahoo.com>
Sent: Sat, December 11, 2010 11:46:04 AM
Subject: Re: [The Breast Ride Ever] Please share this video and join us on Saturday,…

Glen MacNeil commented on your post in The Breast Ride Ever.

Glen MacNeil

11:46am Dec 11

Great job on the video. It was a nice surprise to hear my song as part of your wonderful cause. All the best in 2011…

That email says to me that he’s happy to have been part of it, maybe even flattered his song was included and its reach was expanded beyond JUST the Dragon Boats in 2010.  He even sends his best to The Breast Ride Ever for their 2011 event.  What a gentleman.  So the issue doesn’t lie with the artist (whom I presume still retains the publishing rights to the music).  If anything, you would think a local talent like Glen would be happy to be alongside an internationally known band such as the Afters.  Now, Glen didn’t write the song to find fame for himself or new fans but hey, I can’t imagine anyone crying over more people discovering their music… especially not at a ratio of roughly 30:1 (800+ views on the Youtube video with his song included versus the 33 plays of the song on Glen’s Myspace page).

As for The Breast Ride Ever removing the video from their website.  I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure as they are not hosting the video on their site and it’s simply a link from a Youtube video, they retain the right to include whatever video link they would like.  Again – the letter is sent to the wrong organization.

If the Dragon Boats can logically explain to me what about the video I created is offensive or causing an issue for their ongoing fundraising, I might be inclined to remove it.  I do warn though that I have a video camera on my hip like a cowboy has a gun in holster, so I can’t promise I wouldn’t want to make said conversation public.  Until then, I think it’s gonna stay right where it is.  I’ll ask my personal trainer for additional neck muscle exercises to do at home, that way I’m fully prepared for the head shaking I will do if I’m served with a letter next.  Wouldn’t want to have to counter-sue for whiplash or anything.

So the summary:  anyone willing to put time and effort into the fight against cancer is an amazing spirit and any tool used to promote those efforts (especially when it’s free and people are promoting you and not even charging you) is fantastic.  Focus on the charity efforts and not the petty on-goings between organizations you may or may not have had a falling out with.

Cheers,

GMB

To the rest of you- I know I haven’t updated my blog in a long time… I’m terrible for not wanting to write unless I have something to say – just consider yourselves lucky that I realize not everything I think and feel is blog worthy.