MAKING THE VIDEO
While St. Paul & the Broken Bones were making their circuit at local venues, their soulful and robust crooning caught the attention of indie filmmakers Jen West and James Martin of Four X Productions. The pair was interested in applying their background in short film production to a music video and approached the band’s management. With St. Paul’s first single “Call Me” in need of a video, the label gave an enthusiastic go-ahead.
The project had one catch, though. As the first album released by Single Lock Records, the video had a limited budget of $700. By coalescing a community of talented professionals and capable do-it-yourselfers, Jen and James transformed those budgetary constraints into creative capital.
Before production could begin, they needed a guiding idea. “We knew it needed to be set in the ’50s,” says Jen. Beyond that, she explains, because there wasn’t a substantial budget, “the concept had to be something that we could do in a day, because we were asking people to donate their time.”
James envisioned a large, single room, divided into two and bedecked in contrasting versions if mid-century decor. With a guy’s side for the band’s sextet and a girl’s side for a female performer, the concept instantly represented the excited anticipation built into the song’s lyrical demand to “Call me!”
The set also needed ample space. To fully create the look and feel of two rooms, the crew borrowed filming tactics from the world of television. “We had to follow sitcom rules of perspective,” explains Tyler Jones of 1504 Pictures, the video’s director of photography. That meant leaving especially wide spaces between furniture in order to create the illusion of natural depth.
The extra space also made way for the dual performances by dancer Janelle Issis, a former contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, and band front man Paul Janeway, whose onstage moves have become a trademark of St. Paul’s dynamic live shows.
To make the set a reality, Jen and James turned to Jen’s cousin Andrea Richardson and her husband, Jason. The proprietors of Richardson and Associates Construction, a commercial construction firm where she handles decor and he executes building, they were already well versed in projects utilizing a single space in multiple ways. “It’s kind of a dynamic duo,” says Andrea. “I always have these grandiose ideas, and Jason figures out how to make them happen.”
Once they had James’ concept in hand, “they just took it and ran,” says Jen.
With roughly a month before they planned to shoot, the Richardsons had their work cut out for them. After procuring a warehouse space large enough to contain the set, Jason and a crew of his employees set about construction. At the same time, Andrea educated herself on the ins and outs of 1950s interior design. Among the must-haves she identified—bright colors, wood tones, metallic accents, and the popular Sputnik chandelier, something James included in his original concept.
For colors, she selected gray, yellow, white, and wood accents for the guy’s side. For the girl’s side, a trip to IKEA proved inspirational after she discovered white curtains with orange, black and pink accents. “It was as ’50s as ’50s can get,” Andrea says.
From there, the pieces started falling into place. Andrea worked with Soho Retro, a shop specializing in period decor, to get the right furniture. Then they borrowed a classic card table from Jen’s dad. Andrea took to the flea market to find items for the gallery wall on the guy’s side. To add to the found frames, she turned fabric and scrapbook paper into art, setting them inside frames from IKEA.
To fill the wall on the girl’s side, wallpaper was too expensive, so Andrea’s solution came with a stencil design. Measuring out her own octagon, Andrea organically laid out the pattern on the wall. She then made it pop by putting down foil duct tape along the lines and painting some of the octagons in the accent colors. “It was my favorite part of the design,”she reflects. (Find step-by-step instructions for this DIY project on page 105).
One of the main challenges came in recreating the Sputnik light fixture. With antique chandeliers costing upwards of $1,000, Andrea turned to IKEAHackers.net. There she learned to transform one of their $99 Stockholm lamps into a relic of space-race inspired decor. “It was like a gift from God,” she says about the discovery.
In all, Jason’s crew had less than a week to build the set, and Andrea decorated it over the weekend. By Sunday, they were ready for the test shoot. When the band showed up on Monday, the full team was on hand to make the “Call Me” video happen.
Considering the number of creative talents that contributed to the project, Jen describes the video as a “gift” to St. Paul & the Broken Bones from their community in Birmingham, Alabama.
For those involved, contributing to the goodwill effort was one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience. For Jason, witnessing the overall communal effort impressed him most, “because I know everybody was under the same kind of restraints that we were. It was cool to see it come together.”
“There aren’t a lot of bands I would do that for,” Tyler says, explaining that he felt a particular allegiance to the band because their sound speaks to the area’s musical past. “They’re a modern band, but there’s a cultural heritage to them. They’re just good guys.”
“You look at the end product, and you think, that was a lot of heart,” Andrea says, reflecting on the shared dedication involved in the project. “Everybody truly feels it’s an opportunity to help a humble, talented, creative group of guys go achieve success.”—ADV