Sunday, March 09, 2008

American Wedding Video: Behind the Scenes, Part I

[photos by Bob Jones,]

The filming of the Gogol Bordello video, "American Wedding," all took place in the basement of this church...

the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

My father and stepmother were featured extras, as the parents of the bride, while I played a regular extra, a guest at the reception. (Truth be told: if you are going to refer to us as such, please use the term "background artists," out of respect.)

Introducing the Dandy Dwarves

The video was shot by a production company called the Dandy Dwarves (watch their reel on You Tube). From what I can gather, they met as students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (or "SCAD"). While they never learned our names for how absorbed they were in video making, we came to know them in a certain way over a period of 2 days. We watched them work, 32 hours straight, hard (and that was just the hours we witnessed, there were other hours, more of them, later ones).

This is Ian, the Assistant Director:

He was one of my favorite people on the shoot. He was the one who yelled "quiet on the set, please!" and "rolling film," and "action!". He was very strict, very funny, and clearly dedicated (it was his job to keep things moving). We came to know his voice, we came to fear it, and then we came to respect and love it. At least I did. This was a rare moment, him sitting, not standing holding his clipboard, yelling.

This is the Director, Grant.

Yes, ladies, he was dreamy, soft-spoken, nice. He mostly gave suggestions to Kevin (pictured below); only rarely did I hear an actual order. And I watched him try and deal diplomatically with Eugene (who does NOT like to be told what to do). Grant knelt down a lot, made his hands into a makeshift frame, and always had a to-go coffee cup in hand. He and Kevin were amazing to watch. They'd talk quietly, then suddenly Kevin would stand up and go, "Okay, battery, I need a battery!"

And this, my friends, is Kevin, the DP (Director of Photography):

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.
Kevin is a real life superhero, in my book. A slight man from the waist down, but his arms are BUFF, dude-- from hauling a camera, running with it on his shoulder, weaving in and out of wedding guests on the dance floor at top speed, spinning, and turning. I swear, at any moment, I expected him to take flight, for little wings to sprout from his back, and glitter to leak out of his shoes. Peter Pan-ish you could say. If you watched him for 10 minutes, you'd know he's brilliant. Not because of his buff arms, but because of how focused he is, how so completely committed to the task at hand, whatever was right in front of him. He was fast and un-self-consciously inspired, and never once stopped moving. When another guy had to strap on a steady-cam (see Chris below), while Kevin watched from the side, he'd jump up and down while the scene played out, up and down for how absorbed he'd be in watching it all go down.

There was also Josh, who worked camera 2:

and Steady-Cam Chris (super-nice guy):

There were many others--producer, art department, food folks, electric and lighting, grips, etc, some who are part of the DD core, and others who came in just for this particular project (make-up, casting, and wardrobe).

"American Wedding Video: Behind the Scenes, Part II" will introduce...(drum roll please)...the super-ultimate reason for this whole shoot: Gogol Bordello.

Important note: Again, all of the above photos were taken by Nathan Jones, another Dandy Dwarf, I believe. I did take my own pictures, and a few of them will appear in the slide show to come, but this guy took A LOT of pictures and they are beautiful, high-quality photos. So most images that will appear on this blog about the video are his.

1 comment:

Maureen Cotton said...

These are great photos of the film crew! I especially like the one of the director.