Monty Buckles Talks About Directing Black Lips “FAD”

This infectious Black Lips have plenty of heart behind their “bite”, as you’ll see in the video. Besides the Hitchcock like blood spatter on the moon and sexy cowgirl babes in the video, “FAD” is a catchy song that is reminiscent of the early days of punk. With a budget less than most mainstream video’s catering expenses, director Monty Buckles pulled every string he could to put together this romp through the old west.

A few questions for director Monty Buckles:

MVWire: How did you find this band!

Monty Buckles: Well I have wanted to shoot a music video for a while, but the circumstances just never presented themselves. I saw the band, at this venue in Chicago called “the Black Out” in May of 2003; it was just an amazing show. All the other bands sounded good, but when they came out it was like screaming feedback. I looked over at the drummer and he was just screaming at the top of his lungs the entire time. The guy wound up like puking on the people in the first couple of rows and then the bassist jumped up and he kicked this guy in this WWE like wrestling move with both his feet in the air and he knocked the other guitarist completed across the stage. Then he sprung up and tackled the other guitarist against the wall. It was like this twenty minutes set of carnage all across the stage. At the end of the set, they walked off stage all battered and stepping through all this puke on the floor and I just thought to myself…awe man this band is great!

MVWire: Right On!

MB: They really didn’t have a show set up in L.A. I ended up booking them at the Silverlake Lounge, which is here in LA. They played at a Biker Ralley in Oakland and several other odd venues. After talking to them at the Silverlake Lounge and hanging out with them for a couple of days, I started falling in love with these guys. They are all so hilarious! I also found out that a former member of the band had died just before their record came out, he was killed by a drunk driver which made me just feel for these guys. They are all just a group of young, unaffected kids from Atlanta. And I just approached them with the idea of doing a video and they seemed perfect, they were just so enthusiastic and great performers. They were different from the typical jaded L.A. bands in that they just didn’t have any grand expectations of what they were going to get from this.

We arranged the shoot around the shows I booked, so that they could go out on tour in order to pay for their expenses. For four or five days before the video they stayed at my house and things there were just hysterical. The first day I was in the midst of planning things out and getting all the pre-production stuff in order and I took them out for burritos. We got these $4 or $5 burritos and while sitting there eating and one of them said to me, “Yeah this is gonna be my one lavish meal for the trip.” I asked to him how much money he brought, keeping in mind it was going to be a week of shooting the video, and two weeks after that touring, followed by a couple extra days thereafter. He says to me, “Well huh I brought $40.00.” I was like, $40.00 for three weeks? What do you plan to spend on food? And he goes well a buck or two a day. So I said what happens if you run out of money? Oh we’ll eat out of dumpsters or beg for food. I just felt after that…Jesus Christ, it feels really good to do a video for a group of guys like that They were just so unaffected!

MVW: It really comes across in the video, could you tell me about the treatment?

MB: Well I just had the idea in my head. There wasn’t a real written treatment or anything. I am a big fan of westerns and it seemed like it hadn’t been done a lot in music videos before. I loved the idea and there’s this place Grosh, which is a vintage backdrop place in L.A. They have this amazing catalog of backdrops with all these incredible themes, like moonscapes and planets. I wanted to do a western with that kind of set. It’s so much cheaper and you don’t have to worry about lighting and all that stuff. It made things easier on the set and you have more control. It was fun to make new things and I thought it would be great to play with them being savages and killing a bunch of cowboys.

MVW: Some of the ideas you used in the video, like the cactus as the microphone was classic. There were a few other extreme scenes, but like you said it’s all about the bands performance.

MB: Yeah, well I only shot 3,000 feet for the thing. I mean it was just like okay go, and they started leaping all over the place and throwing out ideas like the drummer hitting the drum with his head and I just went with it.

I had plenty of time to plan before hand, especially for the scene where everyone gets killed. There were storyboards for it and I had talked to Dave Sterzing the Art Director before everything went down, like the microphone and how we could tie it in with the whole western theme. He would bring out things like using old western cookware to dress things out. Originally instead of a wagon, I wanted it to be a 2-dimensional thing that would resemble the painting on the side of a pinball machine, that hyper, stylized cartoonie stuff. It wound up being way too difficult and the process to pull it off was too much so we ended up building this 2-dimensional wagon.

All the wood we used was pulled from this dumpster way out in Long Beach. A friend and I were production assistants on another gig at the time and we loaded up an entire production truck with this lumber.

MVW: Whatever it takes to get the video made, right?

MB: I remembered thinking at the time this is miserable! Being up to my nipples in stinking, horrible garbage and just hurling heavy lumber out of this pit. But it was free and Dave deserves a lot of credit for building things such as the rocks.

We tried to get dirt mats instead of real dirt, but they are really expensive and prop house discounts are hard to come by so we did have to use real dirt. Since we didn’t have enough dirt at the time we wound up having to send someone out to get more to cover the set. He ended up getting dirt that contained fertilizer, so the whole set started reeking. It lasted all day and then overnight it collated so that the following day it was even worse. The whole set literally smelled like shit.

MVW: [Laughing] So what did you shoot with?

MB: We shot on a 35, and the director of photography who was Brian Garbalinni works as a first A.C. and operator currently. He was someone I knew socially as well and he had talked about specs he had done before. I had seen his reel so we discussed before hand how I was going for this Anthony Mann western look. The Naked Spur is a real favorite movie of mine. It’s that really wide-open look where you can tell the camera is as wide as it can be.

The costumes were free, they were from the same friend that helped me with the lumber with earlier. His family owns a costume shop, we were able to get everything we needed for the entire shoot.

MVW: So how long was the shoot actually?

MB: It was a two-day shoot but I had over a month to prep. While all the scheduling was being worked out with the band and all I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted. We shot at the Laurel Canyon Stages. Tim Ford, a production manager I work with was very instrumental in getting us the deal we did there. We got two days with all the lighting equipment for $700, which is just peanuts. The camera package was from Camtek and it was only $500 as well, which included several lenses.

MVW: What about the film ?

MB: We shot on short ends that were from the movie Bad Santa. We also got a discount on the developing, as well as on the telecine and on-line work.

MVW: So you just got short ends from the film?

MB: Yeah, it was actually a place called Short enz and this other production company called Strom Magallon gave us some film as well. Tim Ford and myself had done tons of work for them in the past, so they let us use their insurance policy. That saved us from having to go to an independent film policy company which would have been very difficult and made things almost impossible. If we would have approached them and said we were going to be doing fake killings, there’s no telling what they would have given us. Even though it was all very safe they could have really made things difficult.

MVW: It sounds like you worked with a lot of very talented people, and it was a real collaboration.

MB: That’s true, I was very lucky and the fact that I have been a working P.A. and knew plenty of people really worked to my advantage. If I was some starry eyed amateur there’s no way I would have been able to do this for the price I spent. It would have run tens of thousands more. I was very lucky to get good people that I had worked with before to attach them to the project. From stagehands to costuming to the playback guy, they were all people I had worked with before.

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