My Year In Music Videos

October 30, 2011

It’s been a long year of waiting for my new film “Cheer For Your Life: From The Diary Of Lori” to begin production I’ve been antsy.  I don’t like to do anything but be busy.  I didn’t get into filmmaking to talk about filmmaking – I want to be shooting, editing, directing, writing– CREATING — all the time.  That being said I got back into shooting music videos this past year.

Previous to this year I had directed a small handful of music videos – it was never my goal to be a music video director.  I just had friends in bands that asked me to make videos for them.  It was fun, it was different.  I’ve always liked experimenting in new forms of media.  Then, last October, really driven by The Afters latest single “Light Up The Sky” and the recent rise of the DSLR camera, I was inspired to come up with a music video for it.

The spark of creation with the concept  happened while taking a leak one night in Detroit having dinner with guys in the band and that sealed the deal.  We’d shoot the video in Windsor.

I couldn’t have expected it to turn into all the video that were shot within a year.  19!  19 music videos!  I thought I could blog and share this year in music video creation and a small blurb about each.

#1 – The Afters – Light Up The Sky

Making of “Light Up The Sky”

This video shocked me with the response we’ve had to it.  Emails still come weekly from people that feel moved by it or inspired.  Letters of people experiencing sorrow and loss explaining to me how much the story in the video has lifted their spirits and brought tears AND a smile to their face.  I feel blessed to have been able to use my talents to have such an impact on viewers.

The video has gone on to receive almost 1.4 million views on youtube, more on other online sites, and be broadcast on Gospel Music Channel as well as other television outlets.

Not bad for a music video made by Windsorites starring a cast of Windsor area actors.

#2 – Chasing Amee – Over&Over

Making of “Over&Over”

Chasing Amee’s Ryan Faist kept calling and calling until we could make this work.  They didn’t have much money and wanted something that could be done on the cheap.  We discussed the idea of backwards and a one-take video.  I’m a fan of the one take and had successfully done it with a previous Afters video (Never Going Back To OK) and felt inspired by Ryan’s passion for the band and his aggressive insistence that I direct for them.

We spent 6-7 hours rehearsing the video on the day of the shoot and managed to nail it in one take expect for the polaroid camera not working correctly.  Thankfully, knowing Sean Tighe makes digital corrections easy.

This low budget video ended up being my most played video on Much Music to date gaining regular rotation.  It’s had over 60,000 views online too.  Much to be said about listening to your gut, not always working just for money, and working with other artists that inspire you and have a passion for their art.

#3 – Inoke Errati – Jennifer

Making of “Jennifer”

I’ve had this idea forever.  It was pitched to Inoke Errati years before… it was almost a Mic Lordz “Start The Show” video at one point too.  All good ideas take time to develop and get right.  The idea of doing an audition prank and using the auditions AS the music video.  I think the making of this video is just as entertaining as the video itself.

It was picked up by the comedy based Youtube Channel Bag Of Misfits where it had a good run.  I still get people often telling me how funny they found this one.

#4 – Cerah Steele – Melting

This video was shot in less than 45 minutes.  Partly because it was freezing cold and only Cerah and I out there and partly (more so) because he had be denied permission to shoot there without a proper permit and decided to barge ahead anyway and make the video.

The song is a cover of a Riley Armstrong tune and it was recording by Cerah for the soundtrack to my film “Still Here”.  This was her first music video and I think she’s charming as fuck on camera as well as having a gifted voice.

#5 – To Tell – Safe To Say

Making of  “Safe To Say”

Zach Havens / To Tell I met through Ryan Richardson.  Ryan is a conduit to so much of my music business success.  He is the one that helped me sneak into meeting with Josh from the Afters way back when that triggered that working relationship and friendship.

Zach and his wife, Brittney (the girl IN the video), came to Windsor to shoot this one.  I’m a big fan of trying to lose traditional performance in a music video and have a story or something else that can encourage folks to remember the video and possibly share it if they’ve enjoyed it.  The minute I heard this song I had the idea and Zach was quick to agree on the concept.

The video made #1 on the Canadian Christian music video chart.

#6 – The Blue Stones – I’m A Stereo

Making of “I’m A Stereo”

This is the fastest video for me that went from concept to finished product.  I bought an iPhone 4 and was playing with FaceTime video chat and thought – there has to be a music video to make with this new technology.  A few hours later (it was a Sunday) I called Tarek in the band and mentioned my idea.  We found a location and settled on shooting the first day we were all available which was that Wednesday.  I edited the video overnight and the video was online by Thursday that same week.

It went on to be featured on Apple and Tech blogs all over the world and apparently was the video video to ever be filmed using FaceTime.  Go us for being pioneers.

#7 – Scotty James – Wanna Be Loved

Making of “Wanna Be Loved”

Scotty is another artist that tracked me down after seeing previous work.  It’s nice to be in demand!  I pitched the idea of a love-struck singer/songwriter going all out to win the girl and Scotty was in.  Casting Ellen Coleman (of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit fame) was a no-brainer and we were off to the races.  This video casts just about every Windsor actor I love and adore and a a cameo by Justin of The Blue Stones.

The video has been played on MTV in the USA, featured on various web video outlets and picked up in something ridiculous like 22 different countries… and it’s STILL growing.  For such a small budget, indie video, there’s something about this concept and Scotty’s catchy tune that just works for people.  For me it was the perfect blend of films I love such as Say Anything and Airheads.

#8 – The Afters – Lift Me Up

How do you follow-up Light Up The Sky?  Well you find other story lines that connect with an audience and see if you can make magic again.  More tears, more smiles.  The video has gone on to receive over 350,00 views, television airtime and all the rest.  It’s really hard to fail with The Afters music as your backing track to a video.  Their music is inspiring, rocking, and moving – always.

#9 – Mike Cerveni -Right Now

Making of “Right Now”

Rhys Trenhaile is the star here as our broken-down superhero.  This was such a fun shoot – no permits or anything once again – just our cast and crew showing up Downtown Windsor and filming all day without a spot of trouble from authorities or business owners.  I love filming in Windsor.

Mike’s song is very heartfelt and has great meaning lyrically so we wanted a story of redemption and hope.  Rhys captures that perfectly as a lost soul trying to gain back his power and place in the world.  Shooting almost entirely in slow-motion something I hadn’t done since Light Up The Sky.  I’m such a fan of slow-motion but it often isn’t called for.

#10 – LYE – O Mamma

Making of “O Mamma”

The Sixth Sense of music videos.  I pitched this to LYE off the top of my head when I heard the song and he freaked for it.  It took us a few months to get it together having such a large cast, extras, and multiple locations and specialty props such as the casket but well worth the wait.

This might be my MOST story driven music video that took the most out of me to edit and get the timing down just right so that the story connected with the lyrics and pacing of the track.  It was fun to have a surprise ending.  Get a good reaction from people that have enjoyed that.

#11 – Gavin Slate – Falling

Making of “Falling”

Oh the old break-up and winning the girl back.  Theme yet?  Maybe I’ve been kicked out or fought hard to win girls back or over in the past?  Who knows… I’m not telling.

Gavin Slate was a dream to work with and a new breed of Toronto artist to come to Windsor to create his music video.  This was shot on my front yard and Cerah Steele did an amazing job of finding key vintage props to get the style across just right.  This also debuted Gavin’s music video acting skills as you’ll see if you keep watching upcoming videos that he appears in a whack of them!

#12 – The Danger Bees – Good Year

Making of “Good Year”

Another one take.  This video was so much fun to make.  How can you not have fun when it involves smashing and breaking everything insight.  Our actress had to get everything in a single take as working with a small budget didn’t allow for extra guitars, picture frames, plates, etc to break.  The idea of someone just taking what is coming to them during a horrible break-up was funny to me.  This could almost be a prequel to Gavin Slate’s “Falling” video – the what happened BEFORE the dude got kicked out.

The fire at the end was courtesy of Sean Tighe again – evil wizard that guy is.  Again – the making of shows the whole process of staging the one take video and I highly recommend it’s viewing.

#13 – Mic Lordz & Sauce Funky – My World

It’s been a long time in the works to make a video with Mic Lordz. I’ve always had crazy respect for this band and how hard they push themselves in the industry.  The concept of being humble enough to showcase those struggles and not just have a video that begs people to accept them as typical, macho rockstars was refreshing.

I think that any artist or person with a dream can relate to this statistics of success concept.  I’ve had people tell me it really makes them reflect on their goals and dreams and question if they are chasing them hard enough.

Gavin Slate – Goodnight Lovers, Goodnight Thieves

This one features a certain heartbreak and view of a relationship many might related to.
After Mic Lordz the rest of the videos are still unreleased.  So coming soon are:

Michael Joseph Green – Perfect World

Tears.  Touching.  A journey of friendship in a “perfect world”.

Adam Cappa – The Rescue

First time working with Tooth & Nail records – breakout artist Adam Cappa shot this video with me in Nashville and then the storyline elements were done here in Windsor.

Beth Moore – Love Now

Beth and I have been getting this Wizard Of Oz inspired concept together for a few months.  Great performance by Christian Pinard and the lovely City of Windsor, once again, as the backdrop.

Robyn Dell’Unto – Behave

Robyn’s a badass in this video.  That’s all I can say without giving it away.  Huge cast in this video.  Lots of familiar faces.  We shot this in Windsor just a few weeks ago.

Gavin Slate – Stranger In The Dark

Shot impromptu while Gavin was here to act in Beth Moore and Robyn Dell’Unto’s videos just this past week.  Simple concept but should be powerful.  We have to get his Goodnight video released before we can plan for this one!  Maybe in the new year?

So that is my past year in music videos.  There are a few more lining up to shoot before and after the film shoot this winter.  I’m always looking and booking so if you happen to be in need of a video I’d love to work with more artists and keep this great Windsor music video train moving forward.  I do shoot elsewhere  when necessary too.  If it’s way too much to ask that you’ve watched the videos above, the shortcut is to watch this demo below.

Peace and love,



Rebel Without A Crew

July 2, 2010

As I round out finishing my new How Many Days? website – I thought through my blog here I’d share over the next little while the profile and reasoning I selected each person on my list.  The first is:

Robert Rodriguez

“Don’t be told something is impossible. There’s always a way.”
– Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician.  He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Faculty (1998), Spy Kids (2001), Sin City (2005), Planet Terror (2007). He also produced the upcoming Predators (2010).

Rodriguez grew up shooting action and horror short films on video, and editing on two VCRs. Finally, in the fall of 1990, his entry in a local film contest earned him a spot in a university film program where he made the award-winning 16 mm short, “Bedhead”.  Even at this early stage, Rodriguez’s trademark style began to emerge: quick cuts, intense zooms, and fast camera movements deployed with a sense of humor that offsets the action.  Rodriguez not only has the usual credits of producing, directing and writing his films, he also frequently serves as editor, director of photography, camera operator, steadicam operator, composer, production designer, visual effects supervisor, and sound editor on his films. This has earned him the nickname of “the one-man film crew.” He abbreviates his numerous roles in his film credits; Once Upon A Time In Mexico, for instance, is “shot, chopped, and scored by Robert Rodriguez”, and Sin City is “shot and cut by Robert Rodriguez”.

Find out more about Robert or contact him for to help Gavin’s How Many Days? mission here:

A man needs little else but his art and his weapon.

He’s the rebel without a crew. His amazing story of a man, his camera, and a $7,000 budget have become the stuff of legends in independent filmmaking. There’s even the book: “Rebel Without A Crew”. Before I read the book I knew the story. I saw the films.

Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty… a very fun director to be following. Now, I know his story has inspired countess thousands of filmmakers to grab their gear and shoot their no-budget film. I had already shot two features by the time I really examined Robert’s story. “Leaving Town” and “Do Not Disturb”. The first was made for triple what his “El Mariachi” was. The second, with just two main actors, was shot in five days for $472. You should have seen my producer’s eyes roll when I proposed coming up with a project that, no matter what, we would spend less than five-hundred dollars on it. This is where you’ll begin to see my respect for Rodriguez and his ability to keep budgets under control and think outside the box as to how to accomplish a lot cinematically with very little.

I like to work alone a lot. Collaborations can sometimes go up in flames for me as I know exactly what I want and there are few people I find that share that same vision and style as me. After Leaving Town and Do Not Disturb, I was frustrated with the restrictions of having a larger crew to work with, the time to set-up each shot, so on and so forth. I longed for the days in high school with my Panasonic VHS camcorder and the freedom to quickly point-shoot-move on. Working the camera, using practical light, directing through the viewfinder. Quick, cheap, and dirty.

My third film hit a common problem. A shady and swindling original producer. Money promised, favours promised, endless promises. Nothing showed up two days before we were to shoot and had already flown our lead actress (the fabulous Tanya Bettencourt) in from Boston. “A Most Useless Place”, oddly titled from its Dr. Suess story, spoke to us as a production team right there – feeling in a useless place. There were two options in everyone’s mind: cancel the film or delay shooting it. In my mind, standing off from everyone, throwing a little temper tantrum (how I deal, so deal with it)- there was only one option:

Shoot the film at any cost. Be it budget slashing, reducing the number of locations, and my mental health. Whatever it takes.

We quickly raised less than 1/12th the intended budget and as I was investigating cheap ways to make the film, I recalled Robert’s story. My first thought when reading about his one man film crew was: Bullshit! Complete and total bullshit! How in the world could that be done? Well… me never being a guy to take the path of least resistance, the idea hit me: I would call bullshit on this Rodriguez character and try to make my film as a one man film crew just to prove that it couldn’t be done. If you’re gonna shoot a movie without the budget, you may as well eliminate the crew at the same time. The Producer eye roll switched to a near head explosion this time when I proposed my one and only acceptable solution to getting the film made. The result?

8-9 days later, all by myself on camera and lighting and directing, etc, etc – I shot “A Most Useless Place” in and around my home city of Windsor. I was wrong. It can be done. I did it. I took Robert’s method and ran with it- his drive and determination a baton I picked up and now carry with me through my film career.

Robert has also built his garage into a full-fledged production house. Every step of his filmmaking can be done from home. It’s what I had always dreamed of doing and when I saw on a DVD –featurette that he had already built his studio at home, I chuckled and thought about how I’ll have to outdo him. He’s used this cost-efficient set up to continue to write, direct, and produce some of the most interesting independent films and some studio pictures along the way.

I figure in meeting with Robert, besides the chance to pick his brain, will be the chance to formally apologize for doubting the ability to make a film by oneself. After all – nothing is impossible.

Are you in the film business or a fan of his work?  Were you inspired by Robert Rodriguez?  If so, what do you like about them?  Leave a comment below, post a scene from his films or interviews from youtube with him.  I dare you!

— Again, this is taken from: – my new How Many Days? official site.  Please poke around, check it out from time to time, catch my daily video blog, comment where it pleases you!


Prettiest Girl In The Pageant

December 10, 2009

To date, what is your favorite project to work on and why?

Having a favorite project would be like a mother having a favorite child. You love all your children equally… even if a few of them are little bastards that might end up in jail… you love them all equally – for different reasons. You know their strengths. The good things about each one. Well hold one, they’re all looking at me now. Let me walk over here to the corner and whisper something in your ear:

*the truth is none of them are perfect yet so I’m going to keep popping them out until I get it JUST RIGHT…*

Even parents can be perfectionists. I think the project I’ll always love the most is the one I’m working on or have just come up with. My friends know it… I’ll be sitting in a restaurant, in a theater, drunk at a party, half asleep on the couch… and BANG! I get hit with an idea. I start motor-mouthing about it as the ideas flash through my brain. I scramble for a Burger King napkin, a receipt, or an old phone bill to write it down on. That’s conception. That’s my brain getting the fuck of a lifetime and as it reaches orgasm there’s a sweet bliss of creativity. Rarely do I sit down and just think… hmmm… for my next movie I’ll write about… and start an idea. I have this massive collection of typed and handwritten notes that represent different ideas. I forget about ideas almost as soon as I get them, for the most part, so I have to write them down and every three months or so I revisit the pile and pick through them and see if anything sparks.

I can remember where I was when each of my film ideas were conceived… much like trying to catalogue sexual conquests. Actually I can’t do that. I only have fuzzy memories of most sexual experiences. Not because too much alcohol was the cause but rather just a sense of “Ya, I know I was there… I know it was whatever… but uhm.. details, visuals, feelings… they’re gone.” Probably not a bad thing and certainly to the benefit of any current relationship I might be in.

Boy, I get off topic. “Tangential Rambles” should be the name of my blog.

Anyhow, the project I love the most, given that I’ve deduced its the current one, would be my film “Still Here”. You can see the trailer over at under the Demo Reel section. Click the image of the dude laying in the dirt with his arms on his chest and the flowers next to his head.

“Still Here” is premiering really soon. We’ve been finishing up the soundtrack and getting the sound design underway. It’s looking really, really, really good. It’s made small test audiences cry and discuss with affection (and I don’t know friends that with false congratulate and pat my back… I crave honest ripping apart style reviews when in the process of trying to get a film right!).”

“Still Here” is an emotion driven story about Aidan, a teenager struggling to cope with the premature and rather unexpected loss of his girlfriend, Natalie. Confused and on the brink of depression, Aidan drifts aimlessly through the months after her funeral without any sense of focus or meaning. With weakening control over his emotions and temper, Aidan loses touch with almost everyone around him. However, despite his unwillingness to seek emotional support from friends and family, he manages to create a strong bond with the cemetery caretaker, George. Separated by generations, the old man manages to relate to Aidan and does whatever he can to help his new friend through this difficult time. “Still Here” consists of one social conflict after another, layered with a thin veil of sexual tension. Perhaps most important of all, the film clearly illustrates just how difficult it can be to simply move on.

That’s the official blub or whatever. I just love stories of characters that are lost and trying to find themselves, whatever route that might be to get there. All four of my feature films revolve around that central idea.

Still Here is also my favorite because I feel I’ve grown as a director/producer and I’m very proud for solving every headache and getting to the finish line. There were so many problems, issues that were beyond what even the best coach could predict, strategize for his team. So myself and my fellow coaches and players gave it our all and here we are, with a baby starting to crown. It’s a moment of sheer joy. I was discussing last night the joy of childbirth and how I have no experience of it first hand. In fact, the best I can do is that 10 seconds of sheer terror in the eighth grade when we were shown “The Miracle Of Birth” and after hours of micro cameras inside the womb (looking much like a deep sea diver’s footage), they cut to a woman legs spread wider than I’ve ever seen as the baby hauls ass out of her vagina. There was a jump and inhale of terror from my classmates and as as if we’d just seen Michael Myers claim his first victim. That’s just it… the closest I can get to a childbirth experience is a film. That proud baby boy sensation.

So it will be my proudest, prettiest baby for a little while, but already it’s time to get in the sack again and start experimenting with ways to have another “favorite” project.

Until then kids, keep the lights low and the music loud.