First the clip, then the story (but for this one, I recommend clicking on the “Vimeo” link in the bottom right, so you can see this video in its full glory. There are a lot of moving parts…):
The song is “Only Ray of Sunshine”, from Wesley Wolfe’s Storage album (Odessa Records, 2010).
Wes is a really nice guy — soft-spoken, polite, and hard working.
Why, exactly, would his video have a lot of bad cops doing a lot of bad things as one poor couple sat there bound (and the female, hooded)?
Because we talked him into it. Half-kidding — it started from a germ of an idea about this sweet little love song and how to shake up the visuals. Showing a couple in the park holding hands wasn’t going to cut it. The project needed the Creato Destructo Imagery edge.
“It started out as a concept about a guy tied up in a trunk being dropped off mysteriously in front of a woman already tied up — basically the action at the core of the produced video,” said director Jerry Stifelman. “Then we had a creative session with Wes, who came up with the idea of making everyone cops, based on the lyric, ‘We are all criminals disguised as cops.’ Then we all came up with having all the cops being as uncoplike as possible… I love working with an artist to bring the video even closer to the essence of the song.”
As producer, it was a great moment when we really connected with the talent on the concept. Truly, this was an idea that hasn’t been done many times over in a music video.
But also as producer, I began tugging at what hair I have left — there were so many questions:
- Where are we going to find all these people?
- How are we going to find (and pay for) the cop uniforms and accessories (badges, caps, etc.) for all these people?
- WHERE can we pull this off?
- We’re in a small town. This really has to be done in public to visually “sell” the concept. What will our REAL cops think?
The good news is Wesley is well liked, so we were able to draft a lot of his friends, fans and family. And the good folks at Odessa Records also joined in. Then, we worked our own lists of good-humored friends, and supporters of Creato Destructo, and got enough bodies to approach a visual critical mass the video scenarion needed.
In terms of the uniforms, accessories, and other things that were needed — hire us and we’ll tell you all about it. (But one thing that worked in our favor was Halloween.)
We also benefitted from the great talent at Playmakers Repertory Company and the affiliated UNC Department of Dramatic Art. Not only were we able to “seed” trained actors into the bad-cop group — we also found standout talent Kelsey Didion, who earned my undying loyalty to her acting skills by sitting there, for hours, bound and hooded on a cold and windy day. (Kelsey, I hope someday to see you win an Oscar…)
And for location, well… we’ll have to protect the names of innocent property owners.
But enough from me. What does Wesley Wolfe think about the video?
“Jerry, James and Tracy are the kind of people I love to work with. People that have the need to create, and find any way possible to do so,” Wolfe said. ”They let no obstacle — especially the all-mighty one, budget, stop them. Through ingenuity and resourcefulness they have found away to put on bigtime productions with little budget…
“I feel fortunate to be a part of their collection of work. I have only heard great thing from people that have seen it. My closest friends we’re blown away by the video. The production value speaks for itself.”
So far, so good. How did he feel about the process of taking his song (a highly personal thing), and handing it over to others, to translate it into a video that wasn’t necessarily… his?
“Another thing I admire is how open and flexible Jerry was to ideas and changes in post production. He truly treated this project as a collaboration. I have no doubts that my ideas and thoughts were taken into consideration, and not just tossed to the side. Something rare in any art project, especially when all I had to do was just show up for the shoot,” Wolfe said.
Aren’t those some production values? Damn right! Even though I personally was still anxious on shoot day — because we had so many extras to manage — it was an amazing experience to watch as each person put on a uniform shirt, pinned on a badge, and donned headgear. They became bad cops right in front of our eyes, and it went from concept to stunning reality in just a few minutes.
The experience is well described by our own Tracey Oliveto:
“This shoot was really fun because once everyone was dressed and given their marks, it was like a big outdoor party. I couldn’t stop smiling at the image of 30 or more people dressed in uniforms, doing their thing in the sunshine and it definitely makes you stop and think about the roles we all play in life,” stated Oliveto, Creato Destructo’s associate creative director. “It was quite a spectacle and drew curious attention from passersby. Of course, James gave our Carrboro (police department), a heads up – after all, it could have looked like some kind of conspiracy.”
Tto be honest, we had a few uneasy weeks as the local police tried to figure out if we were making fun of them, or cops in general, or if it was some kind of weird art project. This being Carrboro/Chapel Hill, it appears they settled on “weird art project” and decided not to pursue the matter any further…
All that said, the last words belong to Wolfe:
“I was nervous at first about being on camera. I really don’t like posing for pictures or seeing video of myself. They talked me into it, I trusted them fully, and I don’t regret it one bit… All in all, a great experience.”
We’ll be happy to do it again, Wes!
Wesley Wolfe (left) photographs the anarchic chaos.