Mojo Nixon and The Toadliquours – Mr. Grinch

Here’s a version of the music video with time code embedded.

I will re-post a version that’s clean (without that annoying time code) when I can find it.

ABOUT MAKING THE VIDEO:

This was my directorial debut – I was in film school and we were shooting on 35mm. A lot of production rental houses and post production houses helped get the video made by donating equipment, cutting rates and even letting me use studio time in the off hours.

This was a one day shoot – my D.P. had shot his first feature and had done a student film and had an impressive reel. On set of this one day shoot, he wanted to get stoned. I asked him not to as we had a lot of work to do and he was annoyed with that, so I finally said o.k. but just that once.

He had this idea that since it was a Christmas video that we should put on a sepia filter – I was mild on it but preferred to really fix things during the color correction – so asked to shoot it regularly and then turn it sepia or whatever other color later. He said – it’s better to shoot sepia but we’d talk about it throughout the day.

Long story short, this stoned idiot put on a sepia filter and then soon forgot about it. So, since this was shot on film, him forgetting about the filter meant that he was underexposing every single frame of film that we shot – and we were shooting in daylight.

It was a blast shooting the video and I was a huge fan of the Dead Milkmen (one or two stopped by) as did Dick Dale – and overall everyone had a lot of fun and I made it through my entire shot list and really accomplished quite a few set-ups in the day for a single camera shoot + some black and white super 8 b-roll.

The ugly surprise occured in telecine when we kept trying to get the image brighter, but for some reason it wouldn’t give the leeway we’d expected. Finally the operator told us that the film was under-exposed and that’s why he had trouble pushing the levels – as there simply wasn’t enough image to hark with.

So here I am in an expensive telecine session – and still had to finish and just got creative – told the operator that we needed to do all we can so I walked away with some sort of editable footage. Going with the x-mas theme, I turned some shots completely green, some yellow – and for the shot where we were opening up Stephen Tobolowsky’s chest we decided to go negative reversal – which worked out well since there was no camera reading on the darkness inside his chest- but with reversal it suddenly was popping bright white. We also purposely overexposed some of the shots and made them really bright.

The result was this murky little video – that was a lot of fun to make and an important experience regarding the need to have some better control over my crew in the future.

MTV wouldn’t even look at the video from all we can tell but Gilbert Godfried played it on his USA music video channel.

I went on to make other music videos and picked a great D.P. to join me and wound up with some really gorgeous videos for my reel.

As for that D.P. – he seemed to mumble an apology as he walked out of the room and I never heard from him again, although I really wanted to have a screaming match with him – I just decided he’s a loser and not even worth the effort. He went on to make a few other indie features and from all I can tell hasn’t worked since 2001 – and honestly – doesn’t deserve to.

The sheer enthusiasm and fun everyone had making this piece ultimately wasn’t under-minded by his mistake and I’m still ever grateful for the very talented Stephen Tobolowsky coming on down to those train tracks in Burbank, CA and getting silly with us for a day.

Again – one of these days I’m going to find my master and will put a non-time code version up here – but alas I have to find it first.

-JeF