Canadian music video director Harv (Something Corporate, Shaggy) spoke with mvwire’s Will Brown to talk about the shoot for High Holy Days’ new single “The Getaway.” Harv and 235 Films received three nominations for the 2004 Much Music Video Awards.
This video contains brief nudity
MVW: What was the process of being commissioned to shoot the video?
Harv: Linda at Road Runner Records was the commissioner. I don’t know how many other directors they contacted. The first time I played the song the idea just clicked for me. I don’t even think I listened to it a second time. I didn’t go along with the lyrics at all. There was something about the composition of the song that just clicked in my head and it was done. I wrote the treatment and submitted it and from the first paragraph they bought it.
The track really moved and there were all sorts of progressions in it so I wanted the video to move with it. We shot the video to a radio version of the song, not the one I wrote the treatment for, there were some good parts that got cut out. But what can you do? I wanted this video to move to the point that you never see the same thing twice and you never get bored for 3 minutes.
Everyone’s done a road trip and I wanted to capture all the pieces that make a road trip a road trip, which isn’t about going some place, it’s about the whole adventure of getting there. Everyone has an idiot friend who has to hump the dinosaur. What we tried to do was create characters that you knew. Each girl was given a character to play for the two days that we shot. The major attention girl is always flashing, but at the end she goes to flash and she’s like “Oh, no not again.” Or there’s the girl who shies away from the camera but then at the end she’s wasted and in the camera’s face. It’s not a huge part of the video but it added to it to know what each girl was going to do next because of her personality.
MVW: I think with these characters, even though we only have 3 minutes to know them, adds to that whole effect that, “hey, we’ve all been there.”
Harv: Exactly. These are your friends, you know these people, and maybe not that exact girl but you know a girl just like that.
MVW: It captures the camaraderie of going on a road trip. Bottom line it makes us realize that we’re way too serious.
Harv: Way too serious. I think about some of the other things that we worry about on other videos. You can thrill people with anything that’s interesting and fun. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. This was “go ahead and do what you know.” We didn’t plan anything other than the escape from the city. Everything else from there we caught as it happened. We had cameras rolling all day and all night with the exception of the performance and at the cottage.
MVW: The running scenes really capture the fast pace of the video from the start.
Harv: It was all hand held. My main DP shot it but two other DP’s that came for fun each took a camera, so they were all shooting. I sent three girls with one guy and three girls with another guy, etc. It made the day go by a lot quicker. With some of that stuff I didn’t even know what I was going to get until I hit the transfer suite.
MVW: The opening scene with the girls running down the street had more of a grainy look to it.
Harv: The 16 is the grittier stuff and the 35mm is the cleaner stuff. The reason behind that was I wanted to give two versions of the same thing happening: a nice, clean glossy thing and then the dirtier version of the same thing. It’s a different perspective, like another set of eyes watching it. Also we can move with the 16mm cameras quicker and easier so we can put them into tighter situations that we can’t get the big camera into. I really like the idea. I’ve done it in previous videos, the video for Something Corporate where we did the mixture of 35 and 16. The 16 in the studio is pretty damn clean. If you transfer it in a high-end suite, it’s better than most people’s 35. But, yeah, we transferred with that gritty look intentionally.
MVW: When we spoke earlier, you mentioned that you had to be careful about not falling out of the cars.
Harv: We were running down with the total gorilla. We had a 35mm mounted in a mini van with the door open. I was hanging out of one window with a 16 and another guy was hanging out of another car window with a 16 and we were just doing drive-bys. All four cars were in the convoy with the actors and the band in it, too. But traffic was backing up and you hit a bump and someone’s hanging out a window with a camera… It was pretty crazy. In this one, we were driving down a dirt road in a convertible with the lead singer and two girls in the back seat and my DP Brendan Steacy sitting up on the door with the window down. I was watching from the car in front when they hit a bump in the road and he lifted off the car about a foot and a half. I thought he was done. I was scared shitless.
I felt like someone’s father while we were shooting! It was pretty nerve wracking to watch because the girls were having the time of their lives and not watching the road.
MVW: Were the girls friends of the band?
Harv: No, I cast them. A bunch of them were girls I had worked with before. I kind of wanted a family atmosphere, not a bunch of people we had never worked with before. We went with a lot of girls that we used in the past, in Toronto at least, we all worked together so much that we kind of know each other. It was a hard one to cast, since you don’t want to say the wrong thing to the wrong person.
MVW: The wake board scenes were outstanding!
Harv: I shot most of that myself. I’ve shot skateboarding and snowboarding before. Even though I’m not a camera operator I felt that because of my previous experience and being a wake boarder that I was probably going to be able to operate better than my DP, who’s not a wake boarder and wouldn’t know what to expect next.
We were running out of time so I hopped on the camera and shot the first half of that segment, and then gave it up to the DP after he had gotten a better idea of what we were doing. Most of the footage we used was stuff I shot which was pretty cool.
One of those guys was a Canadian champion and another guy was right up there with him. They were pros and the boat was a sponsorship thing. It was a $120,000 wake board boat.
MVW: In the cabin scene, it looked like the lighting was kind of tricky with the fire and everything, did you add any extra lights to those scenes?
Harv: The cabin scene at night was shot with natural light. We had some ceiling lights on in the cottage and the fire and that was it. We darkened it down in post to make it feel more nightly even though it was 4 am. And with the other stuff at night there might have been one light that we were bouncing around for the entire video. My DP’s not but I am a huge fan of no lights. If the light’s there that’s great but if it’s not, that’s great, too. I don’t mind that gritty kind of look and feel. I know a lot of people love their crisp, clean looks so sometimes I like to go completely opposite and go with no lights. Available light is amazing. All the outdoor stuff was shot with available light; all the interior stuff was shot with available light with the exception of one light with a bounce and that was because the outside cottage lights weren’t working. There weren’t enough of them so we bounced one light around from inside the house and – boom – we were lit.
MVW: I’m not real familiar with them, but I really like their sound.
Harv: This is their first CD. They had their initial release in Canada just recently. We shot the video, the label got behind them and decided to release it in America. I have a very happy band right now and a happy label, which is really good.
MVW: It’s one of those videos that everything comes together well and it’s definitely in perfect time to release it because it’s a summertime song.
Harv: It was just good summer video summer fun. That’s what we wanted to create. I’m glad that people are getting that from it. It’s gotten a huge response over here. It charted right off the bat.
For more information about Harv, go to 235 Films