I spent 3 years on and off in between other music video projects creating this stop-motion piece for my own band (after making videos for other bands for nearly a decade). No green screens were used and I made all the sets and characters with my brother Michael.
Inspired by a small sculpture Julien Baker created, I designed the world in this video around paper cut-outs. Thanks to some intense craigslist hunting I was able to find old Popular Mechanics magazines, newspapers, and books, all from the 60’s and 70s that I used to decorate all the characters and sets. I managed to spend 600 hours making this video in a month and a half, and I love how it turned out. My friend and associate Andrew DeSelm did an amazing job increasing the intensity of the destruction in the climax of the video.
I was so excited that I had made a music video for The Roots, and when I got asked to do another one a week later I was ecstatic. It was another crazy time restraint - this time I only had 7 days, so I worked another week of 23 hour days to pull this one off. I also had to improvise a lot of this, which forced me to speed up and improve my lip syncing methods and to rely on my instinct instead of the video playback. The opening organ shot was a tough challenge because I had to learn the opening organ part by ear and then shove tiny pieces of paper into the keys to get them to stick down in each frame.
Wilco is one of my favorite bands and it was an honor to get to create a video for them. I only had a month to build this set and shoot it all, but it was all very fun. The cake scene was all shot with a real cake in my garage, so I had to animate quickly before it went too bad (and before creatures got to it). I then used the inside of the cake as the dirt tunnel that led to the Dr. Suess inspired forest, which was the most detailed set I had built for a music video. For that world I used spray painted poster board for the mountains, a painted canvas for the sky, yarn and cotton for the trees, and fabric and foam for the waterfall.
To this day this is one of my favorite videos I’ve made. I spent a whole month building the treehouse sets and altering a golf cart to look more magical. I learned a ton about construction, and those techniques have helped me both in my live-action and stop-motion videos. I also enjoy getting to work with kids because they bring such a unique and unpredictable vibe to a set. All I had to do was create an interesting space where they could naturally interact with their environment, giving them as few specific directions as possible (that and make sure that the days were short with plenty of snack breaks). The final shots on the dunes were insane to get because my brother and I had to lug the camera, a jib, and weights across a large section of sand and up a dune.