Here’s a student project I shot and edited sophomore year at Middlebury College. It’s a music video for an off-the-wall, hilarious, energetic song recorded by my freakishly gifted freshman year roommate, Ben Campbell. The talented and versatile Damian Washington (another dorm-mate of mine) makes an appearance in the video; you’ll be seeing a lot more of him soon.
Re-watching the video six years removed, I think it still looks remarkably good, considering when/why/how it was made (the indoor scenes don’t look so hot, but they were shot as desperate last-middle filler because the weather was being uncooperative–not exactly uncommon in Vermont). Conceptually the video is nothing special, but hey… I was 19.
And now, for no one’s benefit other than my own, some memories of the video:
Equipment: I used the school’s Sony VX-1000 (the camera that kicked off the whole DV revolution, really), a friend’s CD boombox, and 8 “D” batteries (which cost me $41, comprising 100% of the video’s budget). I digitized the footage using a home-built PC through an analog video cable (sure, the VX had firewire, but I didn’t), and edited it using Adobe Premiere 5.1 and a friend’s red TV from Japan (yes, you read that right: the TV itself was inexplicably red). All the effects were done in Premiere.
Awards, fanfare, honorariums: 2000 was a different time for nonprofessional video; DV cameras were not yet widely available, online video was really just a concept at the time, and broadband itself didn’t have nearly the penetration it does now. A site named FirstEye (now-defunct), vying to be an early YouTube (which wouldn’t launch for another five years), started a contest for user-submitted, eye-catching short videos. The Grand Prize was a Sony VX-2000 camera, worth about $3500. When I found out about the contest, I uploaded Wicked Harmonies; three months later, I received an email saying the judges had awarded me the grand prize. I’ve since flipped the camera on eBay for a newer model several times over, but if it hadn’t been for that initial award… a lot of things would probably be different.
Even more memories!
–There are a couple parts where Ben is obviously lip-syncing. I kept shouting at him, “actually sing! It looks fake when you don’t!”
–Reduced Phat was a production “company” I started in high school. Damian shouts it out in the song.
–I didn’t know the school’s Bogen tripods could actually go lower than thigh-height, which is why all my low-angle shots in the video are filmed from about three feet off the ground.
–Ben, hippie that he was, didn’t have a lot of clothes. The gray hoodie he wore for much of the video was, in fact, mine; mysteriously, it later disappeared.
–For both the recording of the song and the video, Ben borrowed my bass guitar (and, being a southpaw, skillfully played it upside-down); unfortunately, while trying to climb on top of the structure to shoot the triplicate scene, he slipped (hippies don’t wear shoes) and fell right on top of Your Mom. Your Mom was the name of my bass, a moniker given expressly so one could say, “I’m playing/stroking/slapping Your Mom.” Yes, that kind of stuff made me laugh… and still does.
–The jump cuts during the indoor dancing scene, halfway through the video, are there because I had to cut out a student opening a hallway door and walking right in front of Ben and co. while we were filming. In fact, if you look closely, the door is closed for the first half of the scene and open for the latter; whoever heard of multiple takes?
–At the first screening of student video projects at Middlebury, Wicked Harmonies received a standing ovation from a packed house; the audience at the second screening, more sparse and mellow, didn’t show it the same enthusiasm. My girlfriend at the time attended the second screening; I remember walking away from the whole experience thinking, damn, I wish she would have been there for that first one.