What came first the chicken or the egg?
This question best describes my feelings towards art and life, what influences what? There is the old adage Art imitates life, but I believe life imitates art just as much. A few months ago I was sitting with the musicians from the band 17DED talking about their up and coming studio release and the Visuals needed, both photo and video. This conversation took an adjacent turn and we found ourselves talking about personal growth as artists. I’ve tried my hand at many art forms, including music. This sparked a musical impulse in myself, and I happened to have a acoustic guitar sitting around the studio. I decided to play them one of the songs I wrote when I was about 16 years old (somewhere around there anyways). It got their wheels turning, and within just a few short days they had taken that riff and turned it into one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard. I instantly knew what kind of treatment would fit perfect for this music video. I began brainstorming while listening to the song on repeat for days. This lead to me concepting a lot of other shoot ideas. So I thought why not challenge myself with a HUGE shoot, I have not done a large multi concept shoot day in a while. This is how Brumal was born.
After a few days of finalizing 10 ideas, plus the music video, I began to contact models and schedule a date with the crew. Snow was a requirement for a lot of these concepts, so we had to check the weather almanacs and try to pick the best date and hope it would snow.
As time grew closer it seemed like the weather was going to be great. We got hit with 5 inches of snow over night just days before the shoot.The location we had picked for the day was further south, closer to the snow belt. They were sure to have over a foot of snow. In true Ohio fashion the day before the shoot was 55 degrees. Melting all the snow and leaving us with nothing. I choose to reschedule the shoot for 2 more weeks out in hopes we could push it further and get the snow we needed. As the new date approached just 4 days out we got hit with another huge storm. This time lasting 2 days. Snowfall was well over 8 inches in 48 hours and according to the weather was to remain cold, but the temperatures rose again, melting it all. The night before the shoot I was ready to cancel the whole thing again as no snow = not the idea i had. I had a diva moment but thankfully I surround myself with people who won’t hesitate to put me in my place when needed, and decided to make the best of it and do the shoots anyways. One of the things I’ve learned over the years, art created with the use of other people and environmental components can be ruthless, MOTHER NATURE DON’T GIVE A FUCK what you want lol.
After some last minute changes we were all set for the next day. We wanted to start around sunrise to maximize light for the day, so we set staff arrival at the studio to 6:30am. I had not slept a wink the night before running through every variable of such a large undertaking, so much could go wrong. We departed the studio at 7:00am and drove the hour south to Lodi where the location was.
Joseph Shaw a SFXMUA, fabricator, and all around artist friend of mine had secured his parents property just outside Lodi for us to use. A beautiful open farmland with sprawling forest. The property was breathtaking and I cannot thank his parents enough for allowing a bunch of people to crash there house for 10 hours to pull this off. Upon arrival we unloaded into their pool room and began to set up equipment, charging stations ect. Models arrival time was set for 8:30am by 9am most had arrived. Set up went well everything was going smooth until I looked at the schedule for the day and the first model of the day had not shown up yet. We called, txted, and FBed her to make sure she was ok . With no response by 9:15am we needed to move on, so we had the second shoot get ready as fast as possible
Once Joseph (model 2) was ready for the look titled “Post Apollo” we loaded up the gear and drove out into the field. Boy were we in for a shock. According to the weather, winds were supposed to be 5-10 mph and temp to be in the 40s. Well it was NOT not even close. The winds were more around the 35 mph range and constant ,no break and temps 30F. My assistants Marlon and Bubba were having a hell of a time getting the light to stay straight and took about 10 min to get the torch prop lit. Once lit we began to shoot. After approx 5 clicks of the shutter I noticed smoke coming from behind Joseph, I paused and looked, a tiny spark from the torch had hit a pile of dried grass and with the winds constantly blowing caused a 4 foot by 8 foot patch of grass to caught fire. Everyone scrambled to stomp it out, and then moved just a little bit over to help insure it wouldn’t happen again.
Once look one was over we headed back to the home base to warm up and to gather the models for the 3rd look. At the house we realized the first model still hadn’t shown up or contacted us, so we had to scramble and find a replacement. Luckily another model that was there jumped in to cover.
The 3rd look titled “Withered” went well. Located deep in the woods we didn’t have the wind problems, and the temp had gotten up to 35 degrees. We quickly set up and made a campfire for the models to dance around, and so they had warmth from the fire
At this point in the day we were supposed to be starting the music video however, with the first model not showing up at all we decided to have our actress from the music video fill in and do her shoot titled “Smoke” This shoot went well despite the smoke bombs we had bought on our way back from Jekyll Island in December had really shitty pull tabs. Thanks to some ingenuity from Bubba and Marlon, we found that you could just light the wick so one small problem solved pretty fast.
We broke for lunch and had some of the most awesome cast iron bread I’ve ever had, and some awesome cast iron beef stew. Joseph’s mom insisted on cooking for the guests and she out did herself. After lunch Juliet Blind SFXMUA started the makeup on Sara, our actress for the music video, while a few of the models took advantage of the heated indoor in ground pool to warm up a bit
Now here’s where the day got the best of me, and I fully admit to losing my shit. I put so much pressure on myself to deliver an amazing product to my clients and to my friends that I lost sight of the struggles of the real world. Once Sara was ready we drove out to the field again to begin filming. The winds now closer to 40pmh continued, and the temp dropped. The sun had come out earlier in the day and melted the frosted ground, therefore we were standing in mud. I tried my best to set the shot over and over again, but couldn’t get it right. i would get the settings and the wind would move the clouds, changing my lighting to drastically. I began to feel the crushing pressure of failure. I had promised an epic video, brought a model an hour away from her home in the freezing wind, put into a heavy costume and painted her face. I’m not going to go into detail but I lost it and took my frustrations out on the people that were there to help. I’m not proud of this, and it’s still haunting me. We all deserve to be treated with respect and, well I did not do that. After 30 min of being out in the wind and cold with nothing to show, I called it we and we came back to the house. My wife took me aside to let me know I had lost my shit. After a cigarette and a few min to calm down, it hit me and it hit me hard I had fucked up. I’ve been doing this job a long time and i can count on one hand the amount of times I have really lost it, Yeah there have been times where tempers flair and snappy comments happen but this was different, I had truly lost my temper and professionalism. I had hurt the feelings of not only a dear friend but someone i count on to help me manage the crazy in my head. I did everything i could to apologize right then and there. Failure is not something that happens often and this time I messed up big.
After apologizing to My assistant and taking some time to calm my nerves, I spoke with the model and explained we would have to reschedule. Even though i’m sure she wasn’t happy with the situation, there was not much to be done with the weather
A side note: Be thankful for the people who you have around to help you. From my wife to my assistants to the fellow artists that join me on these crazy adventures, with out them creating this art could prove almost impossible. You have to know deep down inside they believe in you, otherwise they wouldn’t be standing in 40pmh winds in the blistering cold to hold a stupid lightstand for you or wouldn’t pull you aside to put you in check!
Once the drama was over with (which by the way everyone did a great job keeping the models in the dark about while it was going on thank you) we moved onto the last 2 looks for the day “petit gâteau sanglant” and “Goodnight mommy” both went off without a hitch leaving the day on a good note. “petit gâteau sanglant” which is French for “little Bloody cupcake” was modeled by My beautiful wife Juliet Blind, who really brings her fucking A game. Its like you get her naked and covered in blood and she explodes into another person, she is amazing to shoot with. “Goodnight mommy” is cosplay inspired by the Austrian horror film based on Capgras syndrome of identical twin boys. The film is written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, and it’s probably one of my top 10 films, superbly filmed and visually stunning. I wanted to recreate the look and feel of the movie in a cosplay modeled by our first time model Stephani who did an amazing job playing mommy and Joseph saved the day (we forgot the gauze back in Cleveland) with his gauze and wrap job.
All in all the day ended on a positive note and we have since rescheduled the music video and shot 90% of it just waiting on a few pick up shots and that will hit the editing desk hopefully within the next week or so.
Moral of the story is, no matter the amount of planning, things don’t always go as planned. You need to roll with the punches. Even after 9 years of doing this professionally, mistakes can still be made. Nobody’s perfect.The next time you forget your memory card, or leave a lens cap on, remember Shit happens just breath!
Nikki’s BTS photos
Marlon’s BTS photos
And Danielle Dougherty came out to film some BTS video (cut and edited by Blind 7) check that out here!
Each shoot was designed to stand on its own I hope you enjoy