Turtle Canyon Media offer a creative, filmic and fresh approach to video & film. We apply our passions to corporate video and documentaries to create films that mean clients keep returning and are keen for our creative input at an early stage on all projects. An area that requires striking visuals, neat concepts and succinct storytelling is music videos, something that Turtle Canyon has produced many of. Al explains more…
THE INDELICATES MUSIC VIDEOS
One of the things that comes with your brother being the lead singer and song-writer in a band is the opportunity to make awesome music videos with said band. The other thing that comes with your brother being in a band is that when the original guitarist leaves 6 months after formation, you tend to get called up to replace.
8 years later and we have produced a plethora of entertaining, stylish, award-winning and highly acclaimed music videos for The Indelicates, all of them on a budget of less than £400, most for nothing at all. Having just finished a brand new one for “Everything is just Disgusting”, I thought it time to reflect upon the experience of making them all.
New Art for the People
Before Turtle Canyon Media was Turtle Canyon Media, there was Direct Digital Pictures. Stuart and I were tasked to produce the first Indelicates video on a budget of zero. The idea was simple, the band was an art exhibition, people came to look at them preserved behind the velvet ropes of a makeshift art exhibition. The shoot, shot on miniDV tape on a Canon XL2 camera, went pretty smoothly and pretty quickly… all until we set off the burglar alarm late at night and incurring the wrath of a pretty grumpy caretaker.
Julia, We Don’t Live In The 60s
The first single released from “American Demo” and the first video to have me on both sides of the camera now that I was a year in as rhythm guitarist. Again, a simple idea brought to life by great collaboration and the willingness to just “get out there and do it”. Simon and Julia invited fans via their online forum to make their own versions of the placards used in the video based on a template and bring em along to be extras. We had a great turn out and decided the best way to shoot this impromptu protest was simply to wonder around Camden protesting! We used three small miniDV cameras to avoid too many calculated set-ups and unwanted police attention and headed out. It was a lot of fun and we were lucky to have good weather and some great extras including cameos from friends and fellow musicians Keith TOTP, Jim Rhesus and Art Brut’s Eddie Argos.
To date the only Indelicates music video to have an official “budget”, from record label at the time Weekender Records, we decided to spend it all on making us look as realistically old as possible. Make Up artist Katy Richards had all of about 3 hours to turn five of us into pensioners and did an incredible job for next to no money. We shot the film at a real retirement home which, for some reason, had no residents in that day. Lauren Reed played the nurse to our elderly band and from a performance point of view we mainly had to just sit down, culminating in a thriller style dance routine which proves how multi-talented we really are. My personal favourite thing about this video was being able to dress as “Old Biff” from Back to the Future part II. Shot again on miniDV on our XL2, this still holds up as a favourite among fans and us alike.
The first Indelicates video to be shot in High Definition (if you can really call HDV that) was postponed a few times while we searched for a suitable location that COULD look like an 18th century governor’s mansion in Virginia, again for no money. We were very lucky that a family friend of mine allowed us to take over her house for a day and shoot. The idea was to place the band as founding fathers of America shooting with a frenetic style and a frantic edit to match. Emulating the use of different film stocks, speeds and grades used to great effect by Oliver Stone and the late Tony Scott, effectively “America” is a 18th century action movie where the action is writing, lighting candles and strolling through an orchard.
Sympathy for the Devil
A late February morning saw Stuart and I arrive ahead of the band and Nick Long to begin setting up. Nick was coming from home with half of the equipment for the shoot and was running a little late, so Stuart and I began setting up in The Buffalo Bar to shoot this ambitious video for the first release from 2010’s “Songs for Swinging Lovers”. Again, a simple idea open to shooting options in which Simon tranforms into the devil during a performance in a basement club and ends up setting fire to the rest of the band. Simon’s understandable love for Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s musical episode inspired his elaborate and stunning tap-dancing performance. As the morning went on we were still missing our second camera when a text came from Nick Long, saying “I’ve crashed on the M3”. Not quite understanding the gravity of the situation and knowing that Nick quite often crashed his car, I simply replied “how long will you be” he replied with this picture:
We decided to shoot with what we had…
Shot in XDCAM EX format, the video was the first to feature Indelicates line up number 4 with Lily Rae on guitar and Laurence Owen on Bass with Ed van Beinum now in his long term role on drums. Nick’s car was totaled but he had gap insurance so got a nice new one soon after. He still has a shiver when he sees puddles on the M3.
Another great and free location in the shape of another London music venue, this time The Monarch in Camden. In basic terms, this video is filthy, with simulated fellatio dance moves, ugly men in uglier drag and a plethora of sleazy fans giving their all in the name of “art”. To this day the only time I’ve been able to use “SEX FONT” legitimately in any of our work.
Technically we started making Flesh some time before we shot and released Europe, however what started with a very productive first day of shooting then led to a few weeks of smaller scenes that proved to be more complicated. I love Flesh for a couple of reasons. 1) we pretty much nailed it in the first edit. 2) I love overblown and relentlessly accurate movie references 3) It’s got a real linear narrative and a dynamic use of a multiple locations. Props must go to Dave Cromwell, a fan and dear friend from New York who shot all the backplates for Julia Bickle’s cab journeys and to Lydia Snodin who’s introduction to the project was: “you’re a whore, Simon’s your pimp, just go with it.” Some of this video was even shot on the backlot of “Kick-Ass” but you’ll have to work out which bit yourselves.
Simon directed this video himself and we spent a long and hot day with “mini Simon and Julia” on location in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. We did a huge amount of set-ups and performance takes on this to get as many options as possible for a dynamic and exciting edit. Probably the guiltiest moment of this video was having the kids repeatedly run up and down a steep hill, running the camera at different frame rates. A great day with great sports and a charming music video for an important song.
Originally the idea with Songs for Swinging Lovers was to make a video for every single song on the album. We were stalled somewhat because we were unable to fulfill our dream of successfully “hanging” Simon and Julia safely on the typical budget of zero. With other work commitments we also had to accept that making a video for every song could easily take us beyond the release of album number three. Lily Rae expressed an interest in taking some of the burden upon herself and produced this video as the fifth and final video from Songs for Swinging Lovers.
I am Koresh
The first and only video produced for Rock Opera “David Koresh Superstar” saw us shooting at a community centre in Buckinghamshire, a plain, hot room masquerading as a Branch Davidian compound church in Texas. The idea was to had this video look as much like VHS as possible, as if it were evidence footage from 1992. We did look into to getting a VHS camera but alas it was not possible so we shot in HD and spent time degrading and damaging the picture in post production instead. Once again we were so lucky to have a group of fans who were more than willing to thrown themselves around on the floor and act like pregnant teenagers as followers of Simon’s “Koresh”. The video also featured yet another new musician line up with Max Saidi taking over from Ed on drum duty.
The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Class, I Used To Sing
We had planned to shoot an “answer” video to I am Koresh, a Julia led song to mirror the Simon led earlier effort. In fact, we started shooting it too… but the end of the song called for a funeral procession, pallbearers and a coffin in a desert church setting… eventually you just have to know when to call time on it. After this corporate work and commitments meant that we were unable to produce the music videos for the songs Class and I Used To Sing, from the fourth album “Diseases of England”.
This time we were looking for a large black space to shoot in, but were not so lucky with free studio rental so decided to shoot in a rehearsal space in West London. The idea was to light entirely with each character’s lamp. I decided to shoot this in Log colour space in order to have as much control over the contrast between the lamp light and the darkness around. It’s a simple video which took just a couple of hours to shoot and hardly any time to edit, but viewers seem to regularly agree it harnesses a huge power thanks to this simplicity.
Everything is just Disgusting
There’s puppets in this, we shot it in a day at a wonderful location in Milton Keynes. Do I need to repeat that there are puppets in this?
Turtle Canyon Media are full-service production company with more than 10 years’ experience in video and film production, working with clients from a wide range of sectors and producing video content for a variety of media including broadcast commercials, music videos, short films, web promotions, communication films, documentaries, viral videos, events and training videos.