It was a beautiful night. Up on a rooftop above the traffic fray, the moon shone and a cool breeze blew as eclectic artist-types gathered around a carpeted oasis, lounging and leaning on couches and tables. I felt like I was on a movie set on top of the world…or at least Portland.
Really, I was on the roof of a parking garage across the street from the Crystal Ballroom for the very first showing of the upward rocketing Portland band Blitzen Trapper’s new music video “Black River Killer” — that song isn’t up but listen to other great tunes here.
With this music video, there is a story I must tell: this is a project that took the village of Portland.
Who knows when I first heard about it, but it was months ago – could have been from Luke Norby, who earned producer credit on the video. But I think the project really got my attention mid-April, when my inbox had three messages from Tony Fuemmeler [email list, Facebook, pdxbackstage] asking for mask-making help to make 60 masks ASAP for video shoot in a week. Tony, along with fellow mask maker Jen LaMastra, created four mask designs and generated the 60 masks for the shoot with the help of a small army of volunteers (my family included), in the space of that week.
Truly a Portlandesque feat.
Next was Luke’s email call looking for 75 for video extras for an afternoon shoot at Artists Repertory Theatre’s stage – we would be wearing the masks. Sign me up – and my kiddos too! Four sweaty, hurry-up-and-wait, masked hours after we all arrived, we’d shot three scenes – probably a total of maybe 30 seconds in the final cut. But all 75 of us got to witness the painstaking creation of art … and be a part of the process.
Have I mentioned that I’d never heard of Blitzen Trapper before this?
Now I’m a huge fan. It is not only that now I’ve heard of them and really like their sound, but instead it is that I got to be a part of something bigger. Collaboration is powerful marketing. Humans are joiners, remember? This wasn’t that, but proves both that point and why this project was such a community (um, dare I say again, Portlandesque) project.
So I haven’t told you about the video itself yet. It is magic. It is dark and creepy (it is about the Black River Killer after all), but also oddly dance-like, grittily textured and undeniably FLUID. The music floats the visuals in way that makes you hold your breath. Director Daniel Elkayam’s vision on this video was brilliant, as was the work of Director of Photography Brian McKee. In addition to the 75 peeps off the street, the video was perfectly cast right off local stages with such actors as Jonathan Walters of Hand2Mouth Theatre, Rolin Carlson, plus Stephanie Blair, Jeff Gorham, Tony Green and Tom Mounsey (all part of Re-Theatre’s Much Ado production), and many more.
Producers will now hand in the final video cut to Sub Pop Records, who represent the band. Their PR/Marketing machine will take it from here. So now, let’s hope this video is a launching pad: for the folks who poured everything they had into the production; for Portland-grown Blitzen Trapper; and for the film and video industry in Portland.
I tell ya what, our Portland is becoming “the” place for film and music videos. It seems like every time you turn around you hear (often from celeb watch Byron Beck) about a “star” in town or another movie being filmed here. Even I [insert raised eyebrows here] was in two music videos in the space of a week – this one and Storm Large’s “8 Miles Wide” directed by James Westby and produced by Katie O’Grady. It was a fun week!
So maybe that movie set feeling I had atop the roof last night was actually me remembering the future?
This pre-release shindig was hosted by the fabulous portrait photographer Scott James of Captivus Studios. His industrial chic space is essentially wallpapered with the world’s most beautiful people…sexy eyes, velvet curves and shimmering skin you want to lick. Scott has a knack for creating eye candy with his camera, don’t hesitate to click his links and see for yourself.