Those Dangerous Days (Part 3)…Dr. Death Defying and the Zones

Posted by Jonathan on Thursday Oct 6, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

The “Sing” shoot ended a day before all of us had to go our separate ways. I had left New Jersey for California on extremely short notice to help out for a few days…those few days turned into a week…then two weeks…and by the time we were through, I had been gone for two months.

Somewhere in that hurricane of events, Claire Vogel and I managed to write and shoot two spots for the Better Living Industries website with Airi Isoda (our “BLI Woman”). The guys wanted it in Japanese, and it just so happened that Airi speaks the language fluently (she can also be heard yelling in Japanese during the song “Party Poison”). So, I quickly wrote the script, and handed it to Airi to translate.

Here is the opening video to the BL/Ind website:

Our second video, which is my favorite, can be seen on the official website here!

Before I left, the folks at Warner Bros. came up with the cool idea of premiering the album on YouTube with Dr. Death Defying as the DJ. I was scheduled to come back for the record release party with Steve Righ (Dr. Death Defying’s present day counterpart), so we figured on coming out a few days early to shoot.

At the time, we didn’t realize just how busy everyone would be leading up to the release. It soon became apparent that we would have to shoot the special as soon as possible! So, Steve and I hopped on a plane, and flew back out to LA for a 48-hour mission impossible. Luckily, we were working with our crew of Devin Sarno, Claire Vogel, Matt Reed (the Fact News anchor!), and Jason Fijal. All of us were well versed in the world of the Killjoys, and had developed that all important short-hand with each other.

I was set to write and direct the Dr. Death Defying segments, while Claire and a team of Cal Arts students created the visuals which would play during the songs. Jason and I didn’t have a lot of time to discuss what I wanted the set to look like, so I sent him a quick sketch. 24 hours later, I arrived in LA, and found this beautiful set waiting for me.

Unfortunately, the Dr. Death Defying Listening Party is no longer online. However, we also filmed this thank you to the MCRmy on the same day. Check it out:

Speaking of the MCRmy…

“Stories from the Zones” was a brilliant idea to get the bands talented fans to contribute to this world. The truth is, that no matter how much we filmed, it would never be enough. The band loved the idea of handing over the keys to their fans. Part of my job as content manager was to get involved with the early days of that project. The “Stories from the Zones” website was launched as a secret easter egg on the MCR site’s “Transmissions” page. All you had to do was hit the rotating number sequence in the right order to reveal the code “017602783136”

Or maybe I should type it like this… 1 760 278 3136

Anyway, we were totally thrilled at the submissions, and even made a little tribute to them during the “Vampire Money” segment of the Listening Party.

The “Transmissions” were a large part of our jobs in those days, they offered tiny little glimpses into the apocalyptic world of the Killjoys and Better Living Industries. Claire Vogel was responsible for most of them, working alongside a group of extremely talented Cal Arts students. Together, they shot lots of crazy commercials, and the ever-awesome “Fact News” segments. They even got a Mousekat cartoon made! My job consisted of going through these pieces and giving editorial advice, along with the occasional rewrite or joke. I loved seeing the ideas this crew would come up with.

Here are some of my favorites (Special thanks to YouTube user 1KillerCereal for hosting so many of these):

One of the transmission series consisted of “security cam footage” from out in the Zones. Claire and I got to shoot this one ourselves, showing the origin of the Mousekat head!

You can see more of the Transmissions on YouTube right here!

Fun times, but alas…all good things come to an end. My last official job was to help Jason Fijal create the “Zone 5 Fun Fair” at the House of Blues for the record release party. Jason got a full on carnival going, giving out tons of glowing prizes to MCR fans so they could light up the crowd during the show. We even had a tattoo artist ready to permanently brand anyone brave enough…to my knowledge, no one was brave enough. Lots of people who were involved in the project showed up and helped out, I don’t think any of us really wanted it to end. Why would you?

YouTube user MLH has some pretty good footage from the night right here:

In the end, this project became much more than just that. Many of us who first met on these sets are now good friends. To you readers who want to go out and make art, any kind of art, I will say this…it’s tough out there, but don’t give up. The things that made this project special had nothing to do with the money spent, or equipment used. It had everything to do with passion, dedication, and collaboration. You have so many tools at your disposal to create, so use them. Your cellphone has a better camera than the 10 pound-VHS camcorder I used to film my cable access show when I was a teenager. Have fun making it, and your audience will have fun watching it.

Here are some behind the scenes pictures from the Dr. D shoots, as well as some fun random stuff. Thanks for reading! Go make art!



Those Dangerous Days (Part 2)…Making “Sing”

Posted by Jonathan on Wednesday Oct 5, 2011 Under Art, Uncategorized

After the wonderful chaos that was the “Na Na Na” shoot, it was time to relax. Well, in theory it was time to relax, in reality we realized that the follow up video would have to be filmed rather quickly. The guys had an impending album release, and we had a strong desire to keep the entire cast together.

Luckily, Gerard came up with a nice and simple proposition this time…let’s make a heist film that feels like the lovechild of Blade Runner and The Empire Strikes Back. No sweat!

Now, this would be a demanding video if you had a week to film it…we had to film 98% of it in one day. Director P.R. Brown would be aiding us this time, and it was his zen mastery that guided us through the heavy shot list which included exteriors/interiors, speeding vans, and a massive gun battle.

The second day of filming was a night shoot, that’s where we filmed the Trans-Am speeding through the iconic Second Street Tunnel in downtown Los Angeles.

Let’s check out the video! Here is the “Director’s Cut” version which has a bit more story:

Here are some shots of my adventures behind the scenes, I’ll be posting the final part of this series very soon!

Next: Dr. Death Defying, Transmissions, and BLI!