After Wet Cigarettes I was burnt out. From April 2007 to September 2008 I had shot four short films, which may seem like not that much, but trust me when I say it was a lot. In that time span I also went from age 20 to 22, and for the first time in my life decided to focus on romantic relationships. I met a few girls, and that semester was devoted to finding “love” more than my cinematic voice.
But in the summer, when I was in full-fledged “I can do anything” mode, I made a commitment to Christian Heuer, a budding producer who today has worked for A list talent on VMA nominated music videos, to help him out with his senior thesis and direct a music video for his project, Couple of Friends.
The concept of Couple of Friends, which was a web-series, was that six fictional aspiring musicians entered a contest to get their single released. It was basically a hip-hop American Idol, but with a robot, a video game character, a super hero, an oil diva, a gangster, and an alien. I selected the oil diva, though it was more so assigned to me as a result of my perceived patriotism.
I wanted to do a one-shot music video like Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How it Feels.” The reason I wanted to do something like that was because at that point I hadn’t really done anything that was cinematographically difficult. I’ve had a few dolly shots, a few sliding shots, and a hand-held shot or two, but nothing that forced me to really block out a scene, and after watching the dailies of Wet Cigarettes I knew it was something I had to get better at.
In fact, after Wet Cigarettes I noticed that blocking was a major flaw of the film. The way I wrote it, and the locations I chose, made the film 24 minutes of talking heads without much character movement. Couple of Friends served as my first step to correct this flaw, which by the time I got to The Newest Pledge was something I felt as though I was close to mastering, or at least understanding.
For the video I cast my roommate Louie, who along with me served as disco dancers. Bryson Pintard and Sebastian Pardo, my producers on Wet Cigarettes, served as a horse and knight. Andreas Robichaux played the milkman, Tombstone Stinton and Mark Carroll were hunky oil drillers, and Sean Tsaconas played the role of creepy-country music guitarist. Along with “Erika America” they created the Oil Diva music video:
(Note: Her gimmick was that she was a lip-syncher sorta like Ashlee Simpson, and times I think it was a little to blunt to the point where it just seems poorly made, but you can be the judge of that.)
The one shot, which Dillon Morris, the DP of Karaoke Night and Daniel Schade helped put together was a solid one. They did a good job. But the entire video didn’t need to be a one shot. There could have been a few cool cut-away shots to make the video funnier, and the good cinematography would have still come across. If I could do it over again I would be more open minded to that idea.
The actors all did an amazing job. Sean Tsaconas, as usual, steals the show, but everyone does amazing. They were all the best, which is why they’re people I love to work with, and worked with that day.
Tyler Jensen did an amazing job with the production design. His Christmas bulb American flag was awesome, and he hand painted all of those pictures on vinyl. He worked his butt off and did an amazing job. The video looks great because Tyler did a great job.
The wardrobe was silly, but it really helped the production value. Like on Wet Cigarettes that was handled flawlessly by Tiffany Johnston.
But my video was not the best Couple of Friends music video. Sebastian Pardo and Bryson Pintard, my producers from Wet Cigarettes, put together the video for “The Robot,” and with ease made a really great music video. They worked so much harder than I did on their video and song, and it paid off. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVoQ9rYNlGA
The “Oil Diva” video was my first “gun for hire” project, meaning it was the first time I directed something that wasn’t for me. Music video has really never been a passion of mine, and unfortunately that carried over into my project, but I’m still proud of it, and I think it’s pretty funny. I hope Christian doesn’t think it sucks, because he spent his own money to make it.
At the end of the day it’s another fun part of the Jason Michael Brescia Cosmos, and it was a fun way to cap of my career as a student filmmaker, surrounded by the actors and people who made it all possible. I think it stands alone as a few good minutes of fun.
The next time I do something like this I’ll do a better job. In fact, I think I’ll do an incredible job, but we’ll have to wait and see when that is.
Jason Michael Brescia
January 23, 2012 5:35 P.M EST