Monday, September 27, 2010

New Video! "Falling Down"


The most memorable things in life usually combine triumph and tragedy, and we nearly had a little of each during the making of the "Falling Down" video.

As most of you know, I've made little videos for many of the songs on my album. But up until now, all of them have been pretty low-key projects. Kat takes the camera, and we cruise around my block, filming me at various locations (that are all within a 30-second walk from my front door). We never bothered with anything resembling a storyline or acting... just some imagery that would be something to look at while listening to the song.

I've always felt that of the 11 songs on the Zak Claxton album, "Falling Down" was perhaps the best written tune. I started writing it when I was in an emotional turmoil around 1999, and finished it in 2007 when I got back into songwriting, performing and recording after a hiatus. I think the reason we waited so long to create a video for this song was that the song itself was just too good to throw some half-assed project together and put it up on YouTube.

Getting Ready
I spent days refining the ideas for the "Falling Down" video. For being a no-budget project, we managed to do the planning right. While we didn't exactly storyboard every second of the video, I knew what I wanted to get across, and well in advance of the shoot on Saturday 9/25/10, I had a complete shot list. I also took care of considerations such as choosing our location, making sure we had a playback device to hear the song while at the beach, and all the little details. It was about as prepared as I've ever been for one of these things.

The Shoot
Bunny joined Kat and I here at Chez Zak on Saturday, and then we headed down the coast about 10 miles to a place I used to frequent as a child: Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, where I grew up. It's not really a beach, though there's a strip of sand there. It's really a rocky cove that is also a nature reserve, and it is a really amazing place. Hundreds of tide pools are scattered around the tip of Inspiration Point, and each one is teeming with life: urchins, hermit crabs, anemones, starfish are all there in abundance. It's a great place to visit, and I'd love to go back with Kat sometime when we're not focused on making a video.

Speaking of which, everything worked out better than I could have possibly expected for the video. I was rather hoping for a desolate, overcast day, but Mother Nature had some different plans in mind: after months of dreary weather during the summer here in the South Bay area, it heated up massively the day of our shoot, but I knew I was already planning on doing some effects in post production that would negate the bright blue sky.

Bunny got way into his role, which I'll only explain as being representational of both the dark and positive aspects of my own mind... we call his role Id/Ego, and he manifested both very, very well. It took us a good two straight hours to get all the footage we needed, and once we wrapped, we got ready to head home.

Uh Oh
As I mentioned earlier, it was hot that day. Even down at the ocean, what little breeze was there was hot, and we sweated the whole time we filmed. You can't blame us for wanting to get back to our car and get out of there as soon as possible, so instead of walking back to the trail we used to hike down, we took what looked to be a shortcut. Famous last words, huh? The trail going back up the cliff was steep, and snaked through ravines covered in cactus and chaparral. When we struggled to the top, it was horribly disheartening to see we'd run into a dead end.

Suddenly, Kat wasn't feeling so good. In fact, she was getting faint and nauseous, was red in the face, and (really scary) she wasn't sweating. Those are all signs of heat stroke. I got very worried, and, leaving her behind with Bunny, I grabbed the 40-pound backback and walked ahead, trying to get to the car quickly and retrieve some more water for her. Well, in my worry, I managed to take yet another dead end trail, this one even more steep and treacherous than the last. By that time, I started to get some distressful signs of my own; my heart was racing and I couldn't seem to get enough oxygen in my lungs no matter how hard I breathed. Compounding this was the fact that by late afternoon, dust and grit were blowing across the whole area.

I'll end the sob story. I made my way back down, and finally walked back up the trail we should have taken in the first place (the one we used to get down to the ocean in the first place). We all made it back to the car and collapsed for a few minutes, drinking water and getting our wind back. Then we drove on home.

More Footage
Arriving back here, we took showers and relaxed a bit, then had a great Chinese dinner across the street at Top Wok. Rested and fed, we then got set up in front of the green screen, and did some more takes. Bunny eventually took off, and we slept, and the next morning I was right back at it, grabbing some final shots. At about 10am, I started editing all the footage, just to see how far I could get.

Well, 12 hours later, having done nothing but assemble video for the entire day, I was able to get it all done. This morning, I did the final export, and started posting it around the Internet... which brings us up to this very moment!

I'd like to send my sincere thanks to Kat and Bunny for their tremendous efforts in making the video happen just as I'd envisioned. And, whether you hate it, love it, or something in between, feel free to add your comments and thoughts!

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