MR FOGG - ANSWERPHONE VIDEO
We had Mr Fogg on the show on Sunday. He was here talking about his amazing new DIY video. He's written us a lovely guest blog about it.....
STOP! This blog gives away what happens in the video. So if you want to experience it as it should be experienced, watch the video above first.
Over the last 12 months I've done a few things that people thought were mad. First of all, last December I opened a pop-up “Fogg Shop” in Soho, selling Mr Fogg-related records and merchandise and performing 50 times in 4 days. Then, at this year's Reading and Leeds festivals I sprang a marching band and majorette on the audience in the middle of “Keep Your Teeth Sharp”.
After the festival, I found myself wondering what I could do in a video for my next single that could create the same kind of drama as those performances.
I started thinking about how I could incorporate the marching band into a video. Well, the obvious thing to do is do it in a public place. And what's the most public place? Trafalgar Square I guess. To start with “Trafalgar Square” was just a kind of holding phrase that I used to describe the scale of what I wanted to do. I would say to people “of course, the chances of actually being able to do it in Trafalgar Square are tiny – we'll actually find somewhere similar but more manageable to do it”. But in the back of my mind I was thinking “but what if it COULD be done”.
I had an image of the video playing backwards and forwards in my head constantly – camera movements and all – and eventually I decided it was Trafalgar or nothing. In the end I just phoned up the people responsible for the square and asked them if there was any chance of doing it. To my surprise, they weren't remotely phased by it. The only problem was that I would only have one hour to shoot the video. Now everything was reversed. I was telling everybody “I've secured Trafalgar Square – piece of cake”, and in the back of my mind I was thinking “they must not have understood what you meant – you're never going to get away with this.”
I contacted several film-makers and got a series of astronomical quotes for how much it would cost to pull it off. £25k. £50k. The crowd will all need to be extras. You'll need a giant crane. It'll take 6 months to get permission. You'll have to do it on blue screen and put Trafalgar Square over the top in post-production.
Initially I thought they must be right. They're the experts after all. But I started to do my own calculations. I phoned up cinematographers and asked them what kind of camera and lens was required. I made enquiries about the capabilities of cranes, jimmy-jibs and steadicams. And every time I spoke to a producer or director who said it couldn't be done I learned something new.
Eventually I had a fully-formed idea of exactly what I wanted to do and how it was going to be done, but I knew it was too much work for one person so I started to look for people to help me and came across two producer-directors called Ed Christmas and Stu Hall whose help proved to be invaluable. They were into the idea, but I think unsure about the logistics, so I decided not to give them a lot of chance to think about it. I contacted Trafalgar Square and told them I would be there on October 28th (two weeks' time) and then called Stu and Ed and told them it was full-steam ahead if they wanted to be in on it.
From that point on, it was a mad scramble to get everything done. We spent an afternoon knocking on the doors of embassies, government departments and church buildings and Stu eventually negotiated permission to film from the roof of the national gallery. Then later that day Ed and I went to a cafe and drafted a script for the camera movements and the timing of everything that would happen in the square.
What hadn't quite dawned on me was that if this video was going to match the version that had been playing backwards and forwards in my head, I was going to have to be involved in every part of the process. I found myself choreographing dancers in Bow, animating photographs of Trafalgar Square, taking delivery of giant balloons, casting actors, and conducting marching band rehearsals on a military shooting range. If anybody is interested, if you want to write a score for an american-style drum corps you'll have to transpose every part into G in the treble clef. And dancers are only interested in bar lines if they happen to coincide with them counting to 8.
The shoot itself passed by in a blur. As the clock ticked down to our one allocated hour it felt more like being about to go on stage at a festival than doing a video shoot. I had expected a crowd of 10 or 20 people watching what was going on, but looked up halfway through the first run-through to see hundreds of people lining up in front of me. This was made all the more surreal because of the fact that the whole “performance”, apart from the band, was being done in total silence. I tried to concentrate on my performance, while Stu sprinted about the place giving instructions to cast and crew and Ed directed the camera movements from the roof of the National Gallery.
The reaction to the video has been incredible. I started by sending it to a small number of people that I knew personally in the hope that they would want to pass it on to their friends, and 24hrs after uploading it to Youtube 1000 people had already watched it. Now, less than a week later, a whole series of bloggers have embedded it on their websites and people are tweeting and retweeting it and adding it to their facebook pages.
That's the brilliant thing about videos – the way that they can be embedded and spread around. This, combined with the fact that the technology is so cheap (or often free) makes video an essential tool for independent artists. The good new is that if the idea is good, nobody is going to care whether it was made on a Red One, a D5 or an iPhone 4.
If you're thinking about making a video, a couple of useful sites to check out if you are looking for film-makers to collaborate with are www.radarmusicvideos.com and www.shootingpeople.com. Radar is specifically set-up to match-up musicians and video directors, and works on a system where musicians upload a brief and a budget (big or small – from £50 to £10k) and directors submit ideas (“treatments”). Shooting People is a more general film-making community, but is a great place for finding people to work with or equipment to hire if you want to have a go yourself.