Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Mystery Artist Returns

The photo here will represent our Mystery Artist (just as it did the first time around) - but rest assured the person in this story was not Elvis. Once again, MA is a male - but next time it could be a female or even a group. The craziest person in the story is not really the artist, but you'll see ...

Several years ago, a project came up with a big-time rapper. The budget was big and they wanted a massive video that would break through the clutter on MTV and definitely get the artist noticed.

Going in, the label person let us know that the concept needed to be a larger than life party, but not stray to far from the raw “street” feel that the rapper had established as his persona. For some reason, we were dealing with a different label person than the commissioner. I’m not sure why the switch, but everyone should have noticed that detail up front.

We pitched a couple rough ideas and the artist responded to a party on a big white yacht. This was actually before “Big Pimpin” so that idea seemed a bit fresher at the time. The big-ness of it also appealed to the artist. At least that is what the label contact told us. We never spoke to the artist (warning sign #2 ignored) but the label person said the artist was completely involved, reading treatments and so on. The Artist was too busy to get on the phone, but he liked the direction we were going. The label person even passed on a few suggestions from the artist that were incorporated into the concept.

The concept started out in LA, but then the shoot shifted to Miami. This added lots to the budget, but the guest artists were gonna be in Miami – so maybe it would work out. We worked and reworked the details – and the shoot was even pushed back after all the details took longer to pull together.

The shoot day rolls around and production is set up on the dock outside Miami. The boat was there and the plan was to shoot some stuff on shore before the MA hit the Atlantic. Our dock was far from the marina – almost making it look like a desert island. Every detail was lined up and shit looked good. The crew polished the big picture yacht while camera department made sure the camera boat was ready to roll. This was a huge shoot with dozens of extras, a crane, two 35mm cameras - the whole nine.

The label person clucked and clucked as the artist was 15 minutes and then 45 minutes late - spinning calls on her cell phone to his handlers. This is not unusual and everyone else remained calm. The amount of money burned by late artists is always a shock to me – even when you expect it going in, it is still surprising to see an artist hamstring his own video by missing a fifth of the shooting day. The guest artist arrives and we get them into make-up while we wait. Anyway, this is all normal, then we see the SUV pull up with, what we assume is, the artist inside.

The SUV stops at the end of the dock, but no one gets out. After a few minutes of presumably staring at the yacht, a single person gets out. This is not the artist. The SUV pulls away as the director and producer go over to talk to this “not the artist” person. The label person was now nowhere in sight, which no one really noticed at that moment.

The producer talks to this person who got out of the SUV. It is the artist's cousin or something and the guy is nervous as hell. The Artist has left and will not be coming back. Apparently, the Artist is deadly afraid of water and boats. Never been on one in his whole life. Never, ever. That’s right – our whole boat concept was worked and re-worked for an artist that absolutely refused to get on a boat.

For a few minutes no one could find the label person who had been our sole contact. All the times the artist had been too busy to talk to the director or producer came rushing back. All the mistakes and BS became evident like the end of The Sixth Sense. We finally talked to the now very unpopular label person and it turns out they had been directing all our creative changes. The artist had heard absolutely nothing about the idea until the morning of the shoot when he had gotten into the SUV and saw the treatment for the first time. No one had told the guy he was going to be on a boat for two days.

The label person had never checked with the artist. They simply told the rapper "don't worry it will be hot" until they realized their error. The label dweeb even kept the knowledge a secret after they found out that morning – not telling anyone and pro-longing the wasted time and money. The shoot got cancelled. The label person was apparently trying to prove how they could do the commissioners job as well as their own – and kept up the facade that the artist was on board (ha, ha – a pun) with the concept.

The label didn’t want to pay the cancellation costs because they believed the prod co was at fault – a belief started by the less than honest label person. After the exec producer threatened to share with the label boss types the messages the non-commissioner person had sent from their Motorola 2-Way (remember those?) pretending that they had been in touch with the yacht-a-phobic artist, the label person realized it was in their best interest to work to get the prod co paid what they were owed.

The artist eventually did a video for the track, at a different prod co that had nothing to do with boats.

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hilarious, if it weren't so depressingly sad.
WAIT but really who was it? I really want to know.
So much waste. Maybe its not that labels can't afford big budgets anymore, its that they can't afford big budgets coupled with their idiocy.
I really would like to hear your thoughts on itunes selling music video, the increase in music videos on dvds, and how that won't benefit directors at all.
The most hilarious thing is the big bad rapper scared of water and boats. Yes, I'm stereotyping, but I'm willing to bet his raps include guns drugs and hos... but 'taint nuffin to afraid of there... but a big yacht... man, that ain't even right! That's scaaaarreee! LMAO!

Big puss. "Get yer azz on the boat and dance mf!" Labels are stupid for putting up with idiots like this. (Both the artist and the 'label person.')
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