I was thrilled to learn today that my friend Hannah Miller and her partner, Jack Fields, just made a music video for one of my favourite bands, They Might Giants.
Back in February They Might Be Giants put out a call for music videos for the song Am I Awake? from their new album. The band’s brief indicated that they were looking for “…Beautiful, bold, stylish, contemporary, psychedelic, mind-bending” work. What you see above is what Jack came up with thanks to a lot of help from Hannah and their friends.
I’ll let them tell you the story of how they made it. From their press release:
Enlisting his creative partners Hannah Miller, John Regan III, and April Tennyson, Jack embarked on a whirlwind week of building and shooting. Most of the puppet characters were chosen from Jack’s personally-created menagerie of existing creatures, but a typewriter monster had to be fabricated nearly overnight from garbage lying around their studio by Hannah to match the crude, surreal aesthetic of the story.
Time was especially short for this crew, since Jack had to leave for two weeks to Canada to fulfill a puppetry residency funded by the international organization of puppetry, UNIMA, before the contest deadline. John Regan III stayed past midnight to capture shots in spite of the 5am call time for his day job. April switched shifts at the City Pottery Studio in order to help complete the video. Even so, time was running…short.
Luckily, the team’s Gainesville-based puppet friends Daniel Ballard and Rachel Wayne showed up and spent their entire day-long social visit assisting with whatever tasks were put to them on set. After the shoot, Jack spent the evenings of his Canadian residency performing the complex rotoscoping and editing work needed to remove puppeteers from the shots and assemble a finished video.
One of the best parts of this story? Their video was chosen as one of the winning entries by none other than John Hodgman (yes, the John Hodgman). Here’s what he had to say about their video, which he dubbed “Murderous Puppet Typewriters”:
Startling, original, repulsive in the most beautiful way, it engages with the lyrics without being an on-the-nose dream sequence. And the physics of puppet dismemberment are as accurate as I recall from puppet medical school.
Personally, I love the low-fi aesthetic of this video. Although it was obviously made on a tight budget under less-than-ideal circumstances, it’s really well put together and just goes to show what you can achieve with a cohesive vision, a little work and a lot of passion.
In addition to directing and rotoscoping the video, Jack also performed in it alongside Hannah, John Regan III, April Tennyson and Rachel Wayne. They also collaboratively built everything you see on screen. Congratulations guys!
If you like this as much as I do, please show them – and They Might Be Giants – some love and share/like/tweet the heck out of it.