The Blakes: Ramshackle Hearse [Video]

This one has been a long time coming.

Today, I’m happy and proud to share with you my first foray into music videos. It’s a video for The Blakes titled “Ramshackle Hearse.” You may remember my love affair with the band. Ever since I put their track “Don’t Bother Me” behind Chase Jarvis RAW: Advance Testing the Nikon D90, I’ve been enamored with their rough pop sound.

It’s after midnight now, and I’m holed up in a small hotel room in L.A. Sort of in disbelief, really, that I’m actually–finally–writing this post. Reason? I concepted this music video about 18 months ago on a flight to NYC. We shot it in 2 days over 15 months ago with an amazing group of people, and then wrapped it together about 6 months ago. And we’ve been sitting on it for 6 months now hoping to time this post with The Blakes new record release. That day is finally here. Their new album, Souvenir, is on sale now via iTunes.

Hats off to my friends at Superfad. In addition to the honor of sharing the director’s role with uber-creative Will Hyde (great collaboration) and also to my pal Rob Sanborn who originally got will and I working together, the Superfad took the lead on the digital effects for this gig. They put in talent, wisdom and huge hours. And they hit it outta the park. Dreamy to work with these guys.

Want the full story on how this sucker was made? Watch this video here… Chase Jarvis RAW: Making Ramshackle Hearse.

A few juicy bits for those of you who like backstory, after the jump…[click the ‘continue reading’ link below]

1. This short film music video was a collaborative personal project. There is no “client”. There’s no label. The fancy budget = 0. This was entirely funded by myself and Superfad. Why do we shoot elaborate productions like this with our own money? Cause it feels good to make stuff.

2. For the techies out there, we shot this piece on the Red ONE camera and the Phantom HD camera. Amazing pieces of machinery. Editing was done in Final Cut Pro, by the uber-editor, Josh Bodnar. Josh cut the intro titles to the Showtime series Dexter. You get the picture. The dude is awesome.

3. There are cameo appearances from a dozen or more Seattle bands. What a great community the Seattle music scene really is. We managed to pull bands together from every genre to support The Blakes. If you’re a music junkie like me, look for Head Like a Kite, The Saturday Knights, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, Natalie Portman Shaved Head, Disjointed Isotopes, Hazelwood Motel, and more.

4. We’re chatting with MTV and some of the music channels, so you might see it in the mainstream loop. But you might not. I love the web. And this sucker feels right online. More TK.

5. I learned a TON on this project. Knowing how much I learned and knowing my love for music AND video, I’m already looking forward to doing some more of this.

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Jonny says:

@Chase No I do get it, it's pretty obvious how the video ties into the song lyrics… however…

I showed it to my wife, and another person (both relative laymen) and they both said the same thing.

"well, it looks cool, but it doesn't quite work for some reason". Which is exactly what I thought, except from a concept standpoint, i think it's just a lot of really well shot footage, that follows a story, but only for the sake of really well shot footage.

I've been a huge fan of yours for over 2 years now, however I don't want to be one of those people who blindly sends kudos just because you are Chase, and frankly probably one of the best in the world at what you do.

My opinion is that this particular video reads like a tech demo. Thats my feedback :) hopefully people here can take it as constructive thinking rather than some sort of personal assault on Chase, because Chase, you are honestly one of my personal heroes in the industry.

Cheers.

It's funny you say that Chase, I spoke with a few people after chatting with Anon and the consensus I found was that if anything the video was *too* obvious… almost to a fault.

Even after asking them not to read comments to to check out the making of video the terms 'the man' and 'holocaust' were tossed around. Everyone was getting it.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ johnny. thanks for the feedback. ironically, there very obviously IS a story, proof being lots of people even in this forum are claiming they're "getting it". i think what you might mean to say is that there's not a obvious story, or one that's clear to you. That I'd understand. Not obvious on purpose.

Jonny says:

I said it before, and @Anon said it better… there's just something off.

I mean, Chase, I friggen love ya (in a bro-mance / non sexual kinda way). Heck you are almost the sole reason I quit my day job I went to college for, to become a reasonably successful creative director / digital media guy.

Sucking up aside, i'm just not sold on this video.

To quote @anon "While i agree the video is good, it completely lacks any story or sense or anything and emotionally is just as bland and colorless as the song. Slow motion is great, but slow motion for slow motion sake just impedes the investment by the viewer."

This sums up what I think of the video.

Stylistically, its awesome. But style for the sake of style doesn't tell a story.

So, again, I love your work, your crew, and what you've continually given back to the entire community of creativity. But I think the video really is missing some substance.

Kevin says:

Well done buddy- I loved seeing it all over again.

very cool chase, i love the video. the music is pretty catchy too, i'll have to check out more of their stuff. my twin brother is in a band thats getting a lot of exposure. wei've been talking about doing a video in the future, so seeing another still photographer moving into video gives me some inspiration and ideas as well. thanks dude.

Alan Morris says:

Great video.

For those of us who were around in the late 60's and early 70's the video reminds me of Saul Zaentz and Fantasy Records in Berkeley. Credence really made that label after Fantasy started in the 50's with Jazz. However, there was a pretty bitter ending. Ask John Fogerty.

Greg says:

Billy Summers killed it with his jamaica man intro!!….Kool job on the vid, Thanks for posting that behind the scenes vid to!!.. You mentioned Taylor&Taylor; I checkd'em out & there's two different policy's for motion & still,, I suggested to them this new merger thats going on with photog's shooting video with there still camera's, hopefully they can work something out so I can get one policy & do both frequently as I definitely want to shoot music video's also!!… Any info from you or Kate on how you secured your motion shoot would be kool!!…Thanks.

Alex says:

A very impressive team on zero budget. It's quite amazing to see people give their time and energy to projects for collaboration, but to then see people whip out massive green screens, REDs and Phantoms, monster SkyJigs and build sets…I mean…WOW…that is some SERIOUS money now. Pretty mind-boggling.

Good stuff!

Alex H says:

YESSSSSSSS!!!!!! Oh dear god finally the wait is over!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cody's tat is still one of the most hardcore things I've ever seen on film.

Well done.

Alex

Anonymous says:

Chase – You are awesome. This is one of the best music videos i have ever seen. Everything fits just perfect. Its amazing. And its even more amazing, that it just perfeclty fits the song itself, so once again big congtars to You.

Joe DuPont says:

I have no idea what it means, but an absolutely compelling video with great music. Hope to see more.

I like where you're going with this, and I do think Chase can pick out some pretty useful criticism from what you've said in your last post, so thanks.

And I also hope this is the first of many, and soon he'll have as much substance and story as you see in his best still work, in his future video work.

When I first started learning the technical side of photography, I certainly didn't focus as much as I should have on the subject side of it. So, it's easy to understand that when someone is directing something 'cool' for the first time to this scale, he's going to want to focus more on the technical aspects, for sure.

We can agree on one thing completely, and that's to support more of these productions.. let's see where he'll go with this!

That being said, I never liked star wars, story or not, it bored me to tears.. haha. But let's not get too off-topic here ;)

Take care anon, it's been fun!

Anonymous says:

@Sabastien

thanks for the reply. I think that its my "star wars" George Lucas that makes me crave a good story over visual stimulation, although light sabers are hands down the coolest ever.

I do somewhat disagree, I think that high production slick effect video is too easy to do today, with the availabilty of hd cameras, inexpesive editing equipment and green screen technology. There are too many films to reliant on these things than the actual story…(crystal skull anyone?).

Take the blood drops and face splash slow motion sequences, they serve nothing to further the story and I think were done because it looked "cool" to show blood drops in slo mo. doing things because they "look cool" is the baine of visual story telling.

if more time was spent on the script and the story, and less time on scene replacement and rotoscoping (blah!) the true visual genius of the one we call "chase" would have shined through. The stories he tells in one photo are more powerful than most videos i've seen.

I criticism for my own selfish purposes….i NEED chase Jarvis to success in video because gosh darn it, video needs him right now!

Your last statement is something that I think we can all agree on.

Even if this video lacked real substance, I'm glad someone(some people) got it together to make something of such high gloss quality and production though, if alone just to show that it can be done, and that technical limitations shouldn't get in the way of whatever story or substance your mind can come up with. Sometimes the medium is the message. Although I don't (personally) think in this case that's all that's present.

For the record, I've seen a lot of Chase's stuff, and I've skipped over a lot of Chase's stuff, but this is one of the only videos where I've actually wanted to revisit and watch again a few times to let it sink in. Even as the music isn't really my style (this song is growing on me though). I've actually shared it with a few people I barely know in the music/photography/video industries because I couldn't help but keep it to myself thinking someone else out there might appreciate the production.

I can see where you're coming from though; the slowness, the seemingly out of place scene change directly to the burial in the middle of a field, the lack of solid backstory, all might make some people not 'get' it or think that there is nothing there to 'get'. And I would bet you're not alone in that thought. There was a story though, although maybe he didn't make it clear enough for the audience to easily pick up on it.

You don't need to hide behind a veil Anon, we won't come after you with pitch forks.. haha. :) I just believe people stop to think more clearly when their names are attached to their thoughts.

Take care.

Anonymous says:

I believe my criticism was fair and completely appropriate, and was posted anonymously because in this "worship chase Jarvis fest" environment, rabid fans can get a bit brutal.

If I am solely alone in my criticism of a complete lack of an discernible story or emotional feel than simply write it off as one persons erroneous position.

Do i love chase jarvis's work? hell yes! do i have his book and watch his videos with religious fanaticism? hell yes.

But that should not bar one from conveying constructive criticism because if one is showered with "your great"'s all the time, how does one grow or improve.

The video storyline was completely absent and the visual expression of the message was lost. Nothing of the character said to me "power" or "record producer" and the pace was painfully slow and plodding, with an ending I completely didn't understand. This was the first time I have ever wanted to shut off a chase jarvis video half way through, akin to walking out of a movie.

All I'm saying is I would rather have a great story shot with a flip hd than some slick production that has absolutely no substance.

Anonymous says:

pure eye candy man! friggen awesome. keep it coming, especially the behind the scenes recaps on your future work, its the inspiration we thrive on.

@ the latest Anon:

I don't at all consider myself very insightful, or good at all at comprehending deeper thoughts and stories, but I definitely see there's a story in this video. I might not fully understand it, but I would equate the lead in this video to be 'The Man' and he couldn't handle that one group decided to 'stick it to' him.

The intro scene was to build up the character of the lead, and allow the audience to see that he's methodical and precise almost to a fault.

Of course, that's my very lay opinion as to what's going on, I'd definitely like to hear some more thoughts on this though, or maybe hear it from Chase himself, since he came up with the concept and all. haha.

Thanks

PS: Why is it that the most critical of posts come from anonymous people? I think Chase should do like strobist and require that users sign it before posting…

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2009/08/please-remove-ski-masks-before-entering.html

Chase! Was that the Caddy you were looking for a while back?

Jake Hurlbut says:

Hey Chase, I was wondering if you could share with us the costs for this project (i.e.: Equipment rental, crew, cast, props/set, ect…..). I know you said that there was no preset budget for the production.

Awesome Video, and thanks for the look into the production! ~Jake

Anonymous says:

I think this illustrates the main issue that plagues video and films no matter how short…the total lack of a story. While i agree the video is good, it completely lacks any story or sense or anything and emotionally is just as bland and colorless as the song. Slow motion is great, but slow motion for slow motion sake just impedes the investment by the viewer.

There are to many "slick" videos out there shot with high def and using cool effects with slow motion, ect. What I really want is a story that I can invest in and characters I can connect with. Otherwise, who cares, right?

I still love ya man, i Mean, your awesome, but maybe pick up a 200 dollar dv camera next time and put your focus on the story, not the visuals.

Chase Jarvis says:

@anon (7:59). HA! Indeed the coffin was a comfortable one. True story: Dennis the lead actually fell asleep in the coffin during filming!

Anonymous says:

Chase dude – I was disappointed with a few things like putting the body in the casket the wrong way. We funeral directors are sensitive to these things. Funerals are like photographs – much like film – you have to get it right the first time. Although the use of the '76 Caddy hearse was a nice touch. The Batesville casket had its interior stripped – why? Probably the most comfortable bed ever!!!

Digger

Gilbert Wong says:

another job well done~

keep it up~ :)

fas says:

Woooow that surely does not look like first time.

Sean Porter says:

sweet video love the high en quality best music video i have seen in a while.

Also love the Behind the seances helps tie it all together.

Simon F says:

Great stuff Chase – enjoyed the music, the video & your constant pursuit of your own creative visions… always inspiring

Conway says:

Extremely random question: Where can I get one of those wristbands that you're rocking at the end of the vid? The one with the number 42 inscribed in the circle? I'm a huge Douglas Adams dork and would love to have one.

marcus Grip says:

really cool video with all the effects and color corrections and stuf. Nice cars there. This looks like alot of fun and something i would enjoy workin with!

A happy day to you :)

Adam says:

I've been following your stuff for quite awhile now, and this is one of my favorite things from you. Nice job on this. Love it.
Oh, and it's a perfect piece for me to teach composition to my high schoolers. You can bet 160 teenagers down my way will be buzzin' on the Blake's this week, (and the composition chops of CJ).

Wasabi Peas says:

Congratulations to the whole team that made the video. I love the use of motion. Figured it would have a photographic look, but it quickly went beyond that.

Must have been nuts keeping this on the down-low until now.

Is that invite for cocktails still open?

Sean Austin says:

This thinly-veiled effort to become a music video/feature film director is very interesting. I've got to ask – how many decimal places are we talking for the overall cost of creating this?

As an aside, it would be nice in one of these "making of" efforts you heard someone talk about how some individual was a real tool. Every time I watch these, everyone was 'amazing, 'fantastic', 'uber<___>'. Just once I'd like to hear, "so-and-so really dragged their heels and made my life hell!" It happens to the rest of us – I can't believe we would have a monopoly on the soul-sucking Dwight Schrutes!

Chase Jarvis says:

@ david. the music? ahhh…the blakes!

Stephen says:

how much did this cost to put together?

David says:

Awesome video. Who did the music?

Ami says:

Definitely see the connection to Dexter. Good work Chase.

Lyta says:

Great video. The blood drops instantly made me think of Dexter! I don't watch too many music videos so I don't have anything to compare it too, but I love the photographic feel it has.

Will check out the behind the scenes pronto. More please!

Chris Biele says:

Man, that video kicks ass! Gonna go watch the making of now.

Ike says:

Great video Chase! I'm digging that the band didn't need a "record producer/judge/bureaucrat" to tell them that they were or weren't good enough. They've got commitment, talent and heart, and that's what it takes to be great…in any industry! Bravo and great message!

Anonymous says:

Love the henchmen. Great solemn look and feel. Lead guy gives me chills but in a good way. Creepy and powerful. I like the song a lot.

Gary says:

Such an amazing end product from what could have been a "Throw" away drunken comment.

Anonymous says:

Loved the RAW video. Great music video too :-)

Will says:

MIND BLOWING! Awesome work! Think you'll do more music videos?

michalfanta says:

Wonderful work! The beginning reminded me the Dexter intro. Which I also really like.

Michal

kramon says:

manohmanohman,

I'm a video-director myself and I must say: if that is your first music-video ever… I'm packin'!-))))

Chase, I've been following your blog for 2 years now and what I admire in your work (and you sharing it with us) is that it's no so much about technique as it is about inspiration, community, sharing, commitment,…

Over the last 2 years I'm slowly crossing my business over to photography as well and what I've learned from you (blogging) is how important it is to me now that my photography reflects parts of myself.

That is why, in my photography I'm putting much of my efforts in personal projects and involving lots of people with different backgrounds into them.

The best thing about this approach is that it actually brings me the kind of clients I initially wanted to work for! How cool is that!!!

So; thank you for the inspiration and may your future music-video- client be Pearl Jam themselves!!

John says:

As someone who is just getting into photography I've been following your blog closely. I love the behind the scenes videos you do, and this one was especially cool. It's hard to believe I work five blocks away from your studio (I'm right at the Fremont Bridge).

Thanks for the great blog!
John

KAST says:

Great job Chase & Will – thanks for sharing. Inspiring as always Chase.

Bartek says:

It's just perfect. That's slow motion effect- brilliant ;)
Grats man ;)

Jonny says:

Not the authority on such matters really… however my 2 cents… Overall i think it's quite good. Style & overall execution (pun?) is 10/10 no doubt. However, i gotta say that there's something missing in the presentation & concept… maybe a bit too clean? Can a video be too perfect? Maybe it's because we live in an age of garage productions from this genre of music that seeing something done with extreme high end equipment almost doesn't feel normal anymore. There is a certain level of extreme perfectionism present in this video, and i'm just not sold that it belongs. The tech junkie side of me loves it, the creative side of me isn't sold.

Anyways, overall… it's definitely a Chase Jarvis Production. Since my only critique is that it's too perfect :) Love your work Chase.

Jeremy says:

Awesome video and loved watching the behind-the-scenes to understand the collaborative process involved.

Jeff Shaw says:

Love the look. It's hard to pull that off and keep it looking natural. You definitely nailed it. Wish I had my hands on those 2 cameras…but I love the spots where you used the phantom. Great work.

David Airey says:

I'll tell you what I loved the most about this: the film-making behind the behind the scenes (I meant to say behind twice).

I probably would've enjoyed the actual video more if the track was more my taste in music, but that's the realm of subjectivity creeping in.

Very professional, Chase, and very well done. Hoping to see more of these from you in future, and I hope The Blakes do great with their release.

Rob says:

The video is stunning.
The "behind the scenes" is priceless.
Thanks again.

Great work on the video. Great feel, lighting, and photography in general. Dig the band too. Not sure I get the concept [what with the ending] but maybe that's because it's 8 in the morning.

Congrats on the release. Excellent job.

Anonymous says:

cool!

Parveen says:

Impressive stuff indeed….but one can't expect anything less from you, Chase. Nicely, nicely done.

Great job Chase, team & other collaborators…amazing!!!

Wish I was back in Seattle….but no…stuck in Dubai

Charles

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