Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You've been Shattered

My video for Ventura, CA's thrash giants Warbringer recently dropped, promoting the band's new record "Worlds Torn Asunder." The opportunity came to me by way of the band's manager, Marco Barbieri, who also manages Bonded by Blood - a band I worked with last summer.

The video is for the song "Shattered Like Glass," which lyrically, concerns the delicacy of human mortality. The verses describe scenes of characters in decidedly brutal, "imminent death" situations. Initially, Marco sent me a concept that the band and label had agreed on, which was a non-low-budget-friendly, somewhat literal visualization of the lyrics. It was cool, but a no go. I sent back my own treatment, with a more straight forward, three-act narrative spin.

The story is about a man who encounters his evil-doppelganger in a spooky old attic mirror. "Mirror man" then terrorizes "normal man" in a series of surreal vignettes, eventually inspiring "normal man" to fight back. Though more straightforward than the original concept, this one was still quite ambitious considering the budget... and the time frame.

September was already filling up fast for me, so I knew delivering a video in time for the September 25th record release might mean an ulcer or two. Considering the popularity of the band and the prominence of their label, Century Media - this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss. I strapped my balls on and made the shoot happen immediately after returning back to LA after my Chicago / DC trip (that included the Diamond Plate video shoot).

My concept called for the band performing in a foggy dreamspace, surrounded by a thicket of mirrors. I wanted a sort of fun house / kaleidesopic reflecting effect. Not sure I would describe the final product in exactly those terms, but I think considering the time / resources we had, the effect comes across well enough. We shot the performance and the "black void" narrative scenes at a studio in Koreatown called "Monkspace" - one of the locations from last year's BBB shoot as well.

The narrative stars Don Danielson - a rad dude with very dynamic acting range and a high tolerance for noose-wearing. We shot the attic and bedroom scenes at this relic of a house near downtown LA. I'm not sure, but the place may have legitimately been haunted. That, or we may all have been a bit mental from the sauna-like temperatures and severe lack of ventilation in the attic.

The video was shot primarily on a Canon 5d, by cinematographer Dustin Pearlman, who also shot my Bonded by Blood video last year. I shot B-cam for the performance section with my hacked Panasonic Gh1. The two cameras cut together quite well, despite the variable bitrates on the Gh1 outputting much smaller file sizes than the 5d. If you want to know more about the technical aspects of the shooting, Dustin wrote an awesome blog post about the shoot that you should definitely check out. FX stuff was all done in after effects. Glass elements came from VideoCopilot's Action Essentials 2 2k package.

Special thanks to my producer / grip / wunderkind, Tyler Condon, who was able to assemble some great crew people, despite short notice, and ultra-low budget restrictions.

Director / Editor / VFX: Davidson Vorhes
Producer: Tyler Condon
Director of Photography: Dustin Pearlman
Production Design: Vicky Chan, Tim Otholt
Grips: Hunter Rogers, John Coffey

Cast: Don Danielson as the Man / Mirror Man.
Band: John Kevill - Vocals; John Laux - Guitar; Adam Carroll - Guitar; Andy Laux - Bass; Carlos Cruz - Drums