There were two assignments in my first year of college that made me realize I was going to become a videographer. Initially, I went into Red River College to become a journalist, but the pull to visual storytelling was just too strong and I was a metaphoric Millennium Falcon caught in the grip of the Death Star.
The first assignment responsible for my flip was a simple one designed to teach sequencing. We paired up and shot a ten or fifteen second sequence of our partner doing something simple. My idea was to shoot my partner walking through the atrium toward the main doors of the campus, like he’s going to leave. The twist in this riveting story, was that he didn’t quite make it and mishandled the door and smashed his face against the glass. I’m awaiting my Oscar.
The second assignment responsible for my flip was much more complex. We were assigned a video montage set to music. We could use any music we wanted. The purpose of this assignment, I think, was to show the importance of matching the soundtrack to the visuals. Also to learn pacing and cutting on the beat and all that fun stuff. I chose to use 11th Hour by Lamb of God. I figured this would probably be the only chance I’d ever have to make a music video for one of my favourite bands.
The song is about, as far as I know, the negative effects of addiction. So I did a montage style music video about a guy, played by a friend of mine, who’s hopelessly addicted to virtually everything. Then I had another friend of mine dress up in a long black hooded veil-type—almost cape-like—hoodie. She was my personification of addiction, representing all the evil and menace therein.
But I think the coolest part of the entire shoot, was the way I faked the consumption of drugs and alcohol. I had my main character in the video consuming whiskey from the bottle and cocaine. Obviously, for so many reasons, everything was faked.
The whiskey was pretty simple. All it took was a pot of concentrated Ginkgo Biloba tea poured into an empty whiskey bottle. As it turned out, my friend hated the taste of the tea more than whiskey.
The video opens with a close up of a line of coke being snorted. You don’t see the persons face, all you see is a line of white powder going up into a rolled up $20 bill. The powder was baking soda, and the bill was taped so it stayed rolled up. Then I put a small funnel in the top of the bill, and filled the funnel with the baking soda. I slowly tapped the baking soda down the bill and out onto the table, pulling the bill in a straight(ish) line down the table. Later, in post, I reversed the shot and sped it up a bit. This effect made it look like the powder was going up the bill. Speeding up the shot added, for me at least, a sense of panic and realism, with respect to the high that drug gives.
Check out it out:
Doesn’t that just make you want to listen to the whole song?
This video was my first major video project, and as such was highly experimental in a lot of ways. I had a great time shooting it, even though, for the most part, I had basically no clue what I was doing. In the end, it turned out pretty good, all things considered, and it generated a bit of shock from my classmates, which felt pretty great.