‘Intense, intelligent and imaginative. My Darling Defibrillator by Officer, like the rest of the tracks on his début album, Myriads, is more than a song; it’s a romantic adventure novel that you can’t put down.’
Right Chord Music
The Red Red, is a Hampshire based company consisting of Jake Hawkins and Rob Luckins. They have a simple aim: To produce outstanding videos for outstanding music. In this article, Jake takes us behind the scenes of My Darling Defibrillator, the new single from ‘Officer’ (RCM 2015 Ones To Watch featured artist).
Before we hear from Jake about how it was made, we invite you to watch an exclusive first play of the video right here on Right Chord Music.
Over to Jake…
When I first spoke to David Logan aka Officer in January about shooting a video for one of his tracks initially he sent through Laughing Rafters and Can We Talk? David also provided a varied selection of videos for reference including The Antlers, Hotel and Thom Yorke, Harrowdown Hill, Natasha North, Fire and The National, Bloodbuzz Ohio, as well as referencing David Lynch, Danny Boyle and Stanley Kubrick as inspirations. He clearly had a very solid idea of what he wants from his video work.
Unfortunately our schedules meant we wouldn’t actually get to work on either song. Instead we scheduled a shoot for March and Officer sent over My Darling Defibrillator, and Oh. My. Word. Am I glad he did! A beautifully haunting track, powerful, poignant and like nothing I have ever heard before. I fell in love with the song instantly and that love has only grown deeper over time.
I had initially mentioned to Officer that we could shoot in woodland (prior to hearing the track) and take some visual cues from Natasha North’s Fire video which Officer had initially sent over way back when we first spoke. However Officer sent through a location he had in mind and again, I was gob smacked. This was very different to a lush, sun drenched woodland scene, with life popping at every turn. This was a far darker and more delicious beast; dilapidated and gorgeous, decayed and fabulous, haunting and beautiful. It was filled with paradox – The perfect backdrop.
We played with the idea of Officer performing to an actress but with the location looking as it did it seemed wrong to bring more life into it so we opted for a gnarled mannequin bust that I happened to have lying around. But that’s another story…
Officer was keen to root the whole shoot in a malevolent and disturbing distress whilst setting that off balance with some soft fairy lights and glimpses of quirky humour, so I gathered a large 30 meter section for the stage, some diffuse balls for the ‘yellow room’ and a selection of battery-powered LEDs for anything else we may need.
Officer gradually worked to juxtapose the grisly interiors with some playful outdoor visuals including fire-breathing and dancing around the garden ‘like a tit’.
I put together a shot list based on what Officer and I had spoken about and left a fair amount of room for ‘freestyle’ as I really didn’t know what to expect from the fire-breathing, face painting, dancing and playfulness that Officer was keen to include. I had never met Officer, we’d spoken a couple of times over the phone, and a bit over e-mail, and I knew he was a very talented musician, but other than that I literally had no idea what to expect from the shoot. I wasn’t even convinced that the location had power as I was sure somewhere that run down would be shut off. I even called a couple of nights before the shoot to triple check that the building had power, Officer assured me it did.
The morning of the shoot, as requested by Officer, I rocked up at a charity for homeless people in South London and met him for the first time. He introduced himself as David (which I’ll call him from here on), offered me tea and we sat and talked about the amazing location he had found, which looked different to the pictures he’d sent. So I asked, where is the hall and the yellow room? David put me right; the location for the video was in an old defunct vaudeville theatre-come-community centre just 100m down the road from us. The homeless day centre where we were currently enjoying a brew is a refuge and support centre for homeless and vulnerable people and it turns out David ran the place. I already had a huge respect for David as Officer, the artist as it was clear from listening to his music and that he was extremely talented with a clear vision of what he was doing. But learning what David was about outside of his music, which I have no doubt feeds into his music also, just flattened me.
David had also commissioned the skills of a homeless man he’d become friends with over the last year to design the artwork for three of the songs on the album including My Darling Defibrillator, . In a bid to help raise some donations for the two charities that have helped David get said homeless artist off the streets and back on his feet, he has set up a donations page . Using the reference ‘Dave the Artist’ when donating will ensure any donations get split evenly between The Ace of Clubs Homeless Charity and Webber Street Homeless Day Centre – the two charities that subsequently helped David to get the homeless artist who designed his song artworks on a path to restoration in life. I have seen how deeply passionate David is about the work he does and stories such as this one with this homeless artist are a testament to the good these guys do. I don’t want to turn this into a hard sell so please just go check out the work they do. Here’s the artwork.
With tea in our tums and a great sense of wellbeing from meeting David and hearing his story, we went about setting up and shooting the video for My Darling Defibrillator.
We shot on the Panasonic GH4 which is a dream tool for shooting music videos. It shoots stunning 4K video and can shoot 1080 resolution at 96 frames per second (fps). What does this mean? Well most video you watch online and HD TV content is delivered at 1080p. This is the ‘standard’. 4K TVs are available but they are very expensive so the majority of content watched (and delivered) is watched at 1080p. Shooting at 4K resolution allows you to crop the frame, punching in for close-ups or mid shots all from one shot. This is great if you are moving at a pace and can’t guarantee you can get all your coverage. Is this the best way to work? No, but it can be a lifesaver. Shooting at 96fps means when you deliver that video on a standard 25fps timeline your footage is (almost) 4 times slower. This makes for some very nice visuals and was something we were keen to incorporate into the fire-breathing shots. The camera is extremely small form, and the footage grades superbly. I used both the 4K video and high frame rates on My Darling Defibrillator.
For lighting I used my workhorse Photon Beard Red Head Kit consisting of x3 800watt tungsten lamps with CTB gels to shift the tungsten light to daylight where required. I had x2 large 1200watt fluorescents with soft boxes but I opted instead for a harder more controlled light from the red heads. For the tracking shots following David through the hall and into the yellow room I used a Neewer CN 160 camera mounted LED bank.
We had the company of Daniel, Officer’s drummer who joined us for the wide shots on stage but had to leave shortly after due to a prior engagement. We also had some fun on the stage with some camera trickery creating two David’s, one onstage performing and one in the elevated seats watching with disdain. It’s only in the song for a few seconds but it’s a nice little touch that just creates a little visual conflict; self-reflection? Self-loathing? Taking the mickey out of himself? I don’t actually know. It’s subtle and quirky and was fun to shoot.
We played it fairly loose after shooting the stage sequences with David constantly sparking and throwing ideas down with me, the cards, the crash helmet, roly-poly’s off the toilet, just crazy and often quite deliberately awkward and painfully self-aware looking stuff, it was a lot of laughs.
Here’s what Officer had to say about the project.
‘Mr Jake of The Red Red is magic to work with, a true gent who understands how to work with artists, bringing a real team mentality. I came with a very strong sense of what I wanted from my video for my song and Jake enabled all my imaginings and more to be realised. He is truly collaborative and great to chat out ideas with and so you come up with stuff on the fly together while you’re shooting, which makes the whole thing a lot of fun too. Having given his time to listen to my song in preparation, he also came to the shoot with a bunch of brilliant ideas that helped to raise the quality of the video we did together’
After shooting indoors the weather held and we were just able to get into the beautifully kept garden at David’s homeless charity. We shot out some fire-breathing
and then I just followed David on a mad and wonderful journey through the garden. There was so much awesome footage that didn’t make the final cut, but you have to be strict. The song to me is very moving and powerful and when David said he wanted to dance in the garden and sniff flowers I was just so set on the yellow room and that whole decayed vibe that I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. I will throw down my thoughts and offer my views when and where needed, but ultimately it’s Officer’s video and I will never force my ideas, it’s not my place. An artist, a client, pays for a service and that’s what I’m delivering for them so their say is final. Once again, David was bang on the money, he knew what he wanted and it worked so well. I cannot imagine the video without the juxtaposition, the frailty and decay of the interiors and the energy and life of the garden. Similarly with his purposely bar-coded heart balloons, they’re such a strong visual amongst the detritus, and thematic with the song they are perfect. A physical embodiment of the maybe ungiven heart. This was another of David’s ideas that is so perfect and again I cannot imagine the video without these balloons making their journey through the decay and out into the garden. It’s a very beautiful and simple idea that for me really works and is just another testament to how switched on David is in what he’s aiming for.
So after presenting the first cut to David he came down from the big smoke and spent an afternoon with me making the final tweaks and adding a preamble which almost seemed to roll off the top of David’s head and onto the timeline. A perfect little slice of craziness to open the video and I must say, I love it.
So, I guess if you’ve made it this far you’ve probably worked out that meeting David, aka Officer, had a very profound affect on me. Here is a guy who runs a homeless shelter, who in his spare time (he’s just become a dad too, so not much of that going spare) has crafted a superb debut album and is gigging all over the UK and often takes his music to Ireland and Germany too. Not only that he is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met.
To say I was humbled by David would be an understatement. I felt an overwhelming sense that this is a guy who really, really deserves recognition. If you like the music of Officer and you dig the video please do share it and give some support to a guy who spends his life supporting others.
Myriads, the debut album from Officer is set for release on July 31st and it is set to be this year’s essential new album.
Read more and hear more Officer on Right Chord Music.