Last year we debuted the Jerry Ochoa-directed music video and short horror film The Ninth Level, and you guys rightly flipped for it. So we're happy to exclusively premiere Ochoa's latest outing, the Frankenstein-inspired music video for Glass the Sky's "Touch."
Jerry's a dear friend of mine, and he asked if he could film the video in the brewhouse on my property. And the effects, hair and makeup were all done by former Badass and forever badass April Swartz, so this video has a bit of BAD relevance. But more than that, it's just gorgeous and creepy and really well done, and I think you guys will love it. What better than to watch a five-minute horror film in the middle of October?
Glass the Sky is a Houston-based progressive rock band, and they reached out to Jerry to direct their video after seeing The Ninth Level. Singer, songwriter and bassist Michael Mazzella on the inspiration for the song: "I've always been interested in the mental state of those who become manic in any sense. Whether it for money, love, drugs, crime, organized crime, music (some of the great composers), civil causes, animals, whatever. I just wanted to explore how I thought my conscience would change as an obsessed individual." And keyboardist Erin Rodgers on how they decided to make a video out of "Touch": "We didn't imagine it being a single, but it routinely gets the best reaction at our shows, so we went with it. We wanted a video with a storyline that we didn't have to be in - more like a short film - so we decided Jerry would be best for the job based on his past work."
I asked Jerry to give me some stories and pics from the production, so here he is in his own words:
Glass the Sky approached me to produce and direct their music video for the song "Touch" because they had written something very different - and much darker - than their previous work and they thought my style would complement their vision.
In a lot of ways, this was a dream gig, because the band's approach to me was basically 'we wrote this beautiful, creepy song, we have some money budgeted and we want you to make a movie out of it.' Their only specific instruction was that the song is about obsession, so the video should reflect that.
I came up with this concept because I wanted to play with the meaning of the song's obsession. Traditional stalker-type stories felt too obvious, so I started imaging a Frankenstein riff about a lonely scientist trying to build his dream partner, with the song seeming to reflect his mental state. When she finally wakes, she returns his affection without hesitation and, besides an unexpected happy ending, it’s become unclear who was singing to whom. It could be the story of a creature singing to its creator. Either way, it's ultimately a love story.
Another goal of mine for this project was to try directing a video that would take place in one primary location with a minimal number of actors. My previous projects have tended to get ambitious with logistics and locations and, as a result, I’ve ended up spending more time producing than directing. I wanted to pare down the elements and the Frankenstein concept allowed for that.
My original plan was to find a practical location for the laboratory, but weeks of searching turned up no suitable interiors. City Acre Brewing generously loaned us their brewing warehouse and we built the set inside it with Styrofoam walls we rented from a stage prop production company.
*Fun Fact: this set is constructed entirely out of wall panels from a touring production of Beauty and the Beast! We actually had to hide the Beast's coat of arms, which is carved into one of the walls.
We shot the video for a little over $5000 in one weekend. To keep costs low, every member of the crew hustled their asses off. We spent days stockpiling possible props from science labs, junkyards and private funeral/curiosity collections, then Christine (Gwosdz, art director) locked herself in the warehouse for 30 straight hours with a two-person team and built out the entire set, which is absolutely gorgeous.
*Fun Fact: the wooden operating table was designed and built by a guy whose daughter takes violin lessons from me. We worked out a deal for parts and free lessons. Thanks, Chris!
April (Swartz, makeup/FX artist) was able to secure a variety of prosthetic pieces from the team at Bloodyfield SFX in Austin (Teeth, Machete, Machete Kills) and work miracles with them, while pulling triple hair/makeup/FX duty.
Kerianne (Ennis, director of photography) was able to secure a RED Epic package at a great rate and Kenny (Couch, gaffer) came with his own light kit. The artwork was mostly drawn by Sophia (Vassilakidis, co-producer) with additional sketching by Darcy (Rosenberger, art dept).
I also happened to get lucky with timing. I knew there needed to be an exterior shot to prep for the lightning strike and, while out scouting possible roofs, I came across a recently installed art piece by artist Dan Havel that consisted of the entire steeple section of a real church, sunk into the ground and turned into a massive bird feeder. I got permission from the artist to film on it and we had our roof location. The exterior of the Bishop's Palace on Galveston Island stood in for the wide shots.
Incidentally, those exterior shots offered my first real use of digital effects. It took 27 layers to composite/mask/animate the steeple shot (I realize some movies use way more but that’s my record, by a wide margin)!
Overall, it was a great experience and a satisfying step forward as a producer and director. I've been working with the same core crew for several projects now and it's a joy to see us getting better each time out. I feel like this video really allows us to showcase the progress we're making as a team. I hope you enjoy watching as much as we enjoyed making it!
(With big thanks to my cast, Greg Dean as The Scientist and Erin Marquez as The Creature, and with extra special thanks to co-producer Sophia Vassilakidis, who has been my movie partner and friend since high school and without whom none of this would be possible.)