You And The Few - "All Too Much" : Behind The Scenes

About 6 months ago my good friend Michael Seifert approached me to write a treatment on his song "All Too Much" for his new music project You And The Few. He explained to me he wrote the core of this song when he was in one of the darkest places in his life. Divorce, sleezy business partner, loss of his studio to a flood. It was all too much. Here is  a sample of the demo I was sent:

Rather than dig into the specifics of the meaning of the song, I decided to focus on the feeling of helplessness the song emotes. I always start with an aesthetic, and It was important to me this concept be timeless. Iconography. I also wanted to do something kind of daring with the craft. For some reason I kept circling back to this reference image I pulled a few years back.

What I love about this image (conceptually) is the intimacy and self reflection of the subject and the sense of impending doom derived from the skull. The duality of the reflection and the implied metaphor. Obviously it's also visually stimulating, and speaks directly to our human core worries and concerns. The big questions. About life, death and our own mortality. It implies a much deeper story. 

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
— Ernest Hemingway

The song itself has a morose and haunting tone to it and I thought writing a concept around these big ideas would really reflect and compliment the tone of the track. So I conceptualized a story around this aesthetic.

I thought to myself: Where is the most intimate place in the world for a musician? First thing that came to mind was a green room. It's where they spend their alone time. Didn't feel quite right. How about a girls bedroom? A girl they care deeply for? What if that girl had some deep issues? How would that effect the musician? These were the sparks that lit the fire.

So I settled on the idea of a one take music video, shot in high speed. A camera slowly tracking out, observing a musician looking painfully in the mirror confronting himself with life's big questions.

Initial Storyboards

As we reveal more information, we see he is inside of a girls bedroom. As we reveal more and more we see her passed out naked on the ground. As we reveal more, we see she has some deep seeded drug and addiction issues. We keep tracking out to reveal the whole room, and our musician looking deeply into his mirror to form the shape of a skull. We keep tracking out as the room vignettes. We pull our camera out of a mouth. That mouth closes and we reveal it's the face of the girl from the room. We reveal more and she is inside a casket. We reveal even more and we see a rose placed in her hands. We reveal even more and we see the musician from the room walking away from her grave.

Initial Storyboards (The original idea had the singer being dead, not the girl.)

Lighting Reference - Caravaggio

Accomplishing this treatment was a tall order. There are so many elements that have come together for this to be achieved correctly.  A practical set that forms a skull. A long one take dolly move with camera pans. Focus being pulled effectively. Timing of performances. It's a tall order for any music video or any film in general, and I wanted to do it all in camera. 

Building the set. Michael for scale.

As soon as I have the treatment approved by Michael, I started reaching out to some crew in Cleveland. Most people don't know this but Cleveland is a fantastic place for production. It might not have the talent pool of Los Angeles but the crew that I put together is easily able to rival the quality that I experience every day in LA. I had never worked with a single person in this production before, and they all work together like gears in the machine. Efficient and coordinated, oozing with talent. We had a half day of tech and building set to prepare.

Almost Dressed.

I approached my good friend and producer James Waters to help achieve the impossible. Assembling a crew, gear and talent in less than 4 days, as I had jobs back to back in Chicago and LA. He delivered in a very impressive way. 

James used to live and work in LA. Can you tell?

When I left on prep day, we were hours of work behind. Day of production, I flew in from speaking at the University of Cincinnati directly to set at 7am in the morning. I walked into a beehive of people working towards a vision I wrote 5 days prior. It was almost overwhelming. 

Behind the scenes photos by Kim Henderson

I want to thank the amazing people who made this happen. This video legitimately wouldn't of been possible with all the hard work all of you put in.  First and foremost, Michael Seifert for asking me to make this video. Lauren Lapinta for playing our lead. James Waters for pulling off the impossible. Tyler Clark for his preparation and focus as a DOP. Michael Cameneti for his incredible camera operation and cinematography. Matthew Hayes for his insight and experience as key grip. Magan Mclaughlin and Julia Toke for their art department skills. Brigit Youngblutt and Cheyenne Krieger for making everyone look sexy. Joab Roseberry for his focus skills and camera assistance. Josh Quiros for his grip skills. Luke De Jeu for his assistance and behind the scenes coverage. Michael Turner for assisting on camera and dolly. Dave Shaw for his assistance on prep day and shoot day. Anna Rencz for her PA skills. Gary Crable for logging the footage. Craig Smith for the grip truck. 

Excited to put this piece together. Stay tuned for more updates, and insight into the piece. We plan on putting together a 5-10 min behind the scenes documentary vignette.