In high school my favorite band was Van Halen. I suppose I was twenty years too late on that one, but that band was close to a religion for me. Of course back then the thought of a potential reunion with “Diamond” David Lee Roth or Sammy “The Red Rocker” Hagar seemed just about hopeless, and that added the extra passion of wanting what I could never have (I’ve since watched Van Halen and Van Hagar live, and obtained new material by both versions of the band made widely available to the public). This passion for Van Halen enabled me to find it to be the most awesome thing in the world that my professor for senior thesis, Gil Bettman, happened to direct most of Sammy Hagar’s music videos (yes, he directed “I Can’t Drive 55”), as well as Mr. Hagar’s documentary, The Long Road to Cabo.
For about a year I would pick at Gil’s brain about the Red Rocker, until one day Gil got a call from Sammy’s manager Mr. Carter. Mr. Carter told Gil he was looking for a sorta “viral”/”made at home” music video that fans could then send their own videos into to add on to, and create a perpetual evolving made at home music video. He wanted the participants to be singing or acting along to Sammy’s new song “Loud,” and he wanted someone to “direct” the compilation. Naturally Gil came to me, given my success with comedy, and my passion for Sammy’s music, but in reality I viewed this as a humbling experience, and a tremendous sign of the respect from Gil, given he’d put his own relationship with Sammy on the line for my talent. I did my best, and I created this piece of work:
Honestly, I watched it today for the first time in a long time, and it’s better than I had remembered it to be. For the task at hand, it was actually a great starting point. Unfortunately, Mr. Hagar and Mr. Carter sort of abandoned the concept, and Sammy pretty much abandoned the album in order focus on his new supergroup Chickenfoot, which would release a debut album later that summer. The video did find it’s way to Sammy’s fanbase via the Van Halen News Desk (thank goodness), and I still have the screen shot of the “Loud” video being the #1 video on Myspace saved (back when Myspace was still relevant).
“Loud” was a great experience. It was the first time I had to deal with a real boss. I know Mr. Carter wasn’t 100% pleased with the end result, so in that regard I suppose I failed, but to this day I’m not quite sure Mr. Carter ever really knew what he was going for. To this day I am positive that if Sammy had promoted the concept to his fans, asking for their own videos via his website, I would’ve been flooded with home videos from middle aged women and bikers… And the end result would have been the work of comedic genius that Mr. Carter was going for. So in that regard, I don’t think I failed at all.
But it was definitely my first taste of not achieving everything I set out to achieve. I thought I did the best job possible given the assignment, and it simply wasn’t good enough for the client. In retrospect I could have been more “modern,” but the song was so “retro” it would have felt weird with a 21st-century-iPod-commercial-type feel, and besides, the goal was to get footage that looked home-made, to encourage more home-made footage! My initial cut, which Gil liked a lot, was viewed as “too high quality” for Cater. He was looking for that web cam/handicam feel we were going for.
This is the 21st century. It’s hard to get “raw” when iPhone’s are shooting in HD.
I actually spent way more time compiling that footage then you may think. We spent three days on a sound stage, filming literally over a hundred people singing “Loud”. Everyone who makes a music video will tell you that they’ve never listened to a song more than the song that they just did a music video for, but trust me when I say that few people have ever listened to any song, in as short of a timespan as I did while working on “Loud.” Fortunately I found the song fun and enjoyable.
It was during those sessions on the sound stage that I met Craig C. Chen, Brent Rode, and Fifi Larue, all people who appeared in The Newest Pledge, and all great people who I still keep in touch with today. I also got to include a lot of my favorite actors: Andreas Robichaux, Alex Rouch, Daniel Z. Barber, Alex Kurnow, and Tombstone Stinton. I also got to loaded with friends and family (that baby playing the piano is my nephew Zachary who must have been one at the time!) It’s things like that to make it personal for me, and it’s those things that will make me from watch it more frequently as I age.
I’m proud of “Loud” (hehe that rhymes). It was my first chance as a director to work with and for someone that I idolized growing up. Sammy lived up to his reputation as the nicest guy in Rock & Roll, and I have nothing but good things to say about Mr. Hagar, his band, his family members that I got to meet, and Mr. Carter (who unfortunately passed away recently). I did my best and I learned a lot.
To be completely honest, after not seeing the video for some time, I got really choked up watching it tonight. I realized that three and a half years of my life went by really fast. Before I know it I’ll be an old biker reminiscing about my car from when I was a teenager, and that girl who was loud. Except I’ll never be a biker, and with me my “dream machine” was a Nissan Altima that I couldn’t drive because I failed my road test whenI cut off a school bus, and the only girls that I ever made “loud” were the ones yelling at or ridiculing me.
At least that much hasn’t changed much.
Jason Michael Brescia
April 6, 2012 12:48 A.M EST
P.S this was the first time anyone gave me the note “it needs more women”… a note that I’ve gotten on every project since. Sorry, I just love dudes too much (no homo). They’re funnier.