Saturday, September 21, 2013

A day with The Clash and Fred Armisen

     If you've ever heard the songs by the name of "London Calling" or "Rock the Casbah," you are listening to one of the most legendary punk bands since the genre's inception. As of yesterday, I had the utmost pleasure in meeting and working with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, the last two standing members of "The Clash."

     Having grown up listening to rock & roll and punk, this shoot hit close to home. The location we shot at was at a recording studio in Greenwhich Village, originally built by Jimi Hendrix, known as "Electric Lady Studio's." This is a studio I have wanted to visit for years, and having the opportunity the experience the studio in person was breathtaking. The long standing history of this establishment dates back to 1970 and has had some of the world's most well-known artists such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie record here. The studio was designed by John Storyk, and was built in a way to inspire Jimi Hendrix's creativity with round windows, curvy architecture, and incredible psychedelic space-themed painting by the talented Lance Jost.

     When Hendrix and his manager Michael Jeffrey jointly invested roughly a million dollars in turning "The Village Barn" nightclub into a professional recording studio, they had no idea what was in store for them. Shortly after demolition commenced, it was found that the site sat on the tributary of an underground river, Minetta Creek. To continue construction, sump pumps had to be installed then soundproofed, costing them an additional million and forcing them to take out a loan from Warner Brothers. After recording in his studio for four weeks during the final phases of construction, Hendrix set off on tour in an effort to pay back his loan. After boarding a plane to London and playing the Isle of Wight Festival, Jimi Hendrix died less than three weeks later.

     This Funny or Die script, directed by Oz Rodrigues and Matt Villines had Fred Armisen portray a fictional punk rock character by the name of "Ian Rubbish." Ian had his band "Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros" sort of play a few shows with The Clash back in the day, and was pretty good friends with them - or at least thought he was pretty good friends with them. They also shared some musical ideas with each other, although Ian and the Bizzaros mainly copied everything The Clash did. Actually, no ones sure if the The Clash have even heard of this "Ian Rubbish" character..

     Being that Fred Armisen is a huge Clash fan, seeing them perform songs together for this script was an incredible experience. Everyone got along so well, telling jokes and laughing the whole time. It was apparent that everyone involved in the making of this video really enjoyed themselves, and generally had the utmost respect for such a legendary band.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico - Behind-the-scenes shoot for LA Fashion Magazine

     Just got back from Mexico yesterday night from a shoot with Giancarlo Marino for LA Fashion Magazine. Seth Hagenstein asked me to join him on his directing voyage after him and Giancarlo planned the filming of behind-the-scenes of this shoot, along with a short film that parallels the storyline of the 10 page photo spread for the magazine. This was definitely on my list for one of the most interesting locations I've had the pleasure of shooting in.  We stayed for 6 days, arriving on Monday afternoon, and leaving Saturday afternoon.

     We stayed in Playa del Carmen, about an hour south of Cancun. This area has less of a tourist population than Cancun, making a visible contrast between rich and poor. One moment we were shooting on a white powder beach in an exclusive resort, next we would be driving through a poverty-stricken town.

     The police here are not like guys you will see in the US. Being that this area of Mexico attracts tourism, police must protect against any threat the mexican drug cartel might poses. They drive around in pickup trucks, armed to the teeth, strapped with AK-47s'. Driving down main roads you'll find a checkpoint every few miles with officers staring down all vehicles passing by, while other officers sit on motorcycles or stand behind sand barricades. If the cartel was to inflict any harm to this area, we would most likely see a dramatic decline in tourism as we did in border cities such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo. Both of which have been affected by drug-fueled violence that cost more than 70,000 lives in the past six years. 

     The shoot was split into two days. One would be the "storyline" photo shoot in the jungle of Sian Ka'an about an hour south from where we were staying, and the other would be a swimwear shoot on the beach at the Maroma Resort in Riviera Maya, a 30 minute drive north. The jungle shoot consisted of two girls being stranded on an abandoned road in the middle of the jungle, until hijacking an unexpected driver's car, leaving him in the dust. The swimwear shoot was a bit more simplistic - shooting two girls in swimwear on the beach and different exotic locations in the Maroma resort, most of which were Mayan themed.


Everything seemed to be lined up and ready to go, the only problem that had us worried was this:

     Although the weather seemed unforgiving, both days went pretty smooth. The rain in the jungle of Sian Ka'an actually helped to create some awesome imagery and atmosphere - the girls kicking puddles of water in slow motion, along with the soft light we had all day. As for the swimwear portion of the shoot, shooting in various places throughout the resort rather than soley on the beach helped draw attention away from the weather and more on the environment where the model was. Towards the end of the day, the skies actually opened up for a good 45 minutes, giving Giancarlo an opportunity to snag some photos with the good-weather look. Opposed to the it's-stormy-and-raining look.