Friday, March 23, 2007

Limeys in the Sun

Euros love the desert. Especially those Commonwealth types from England, Ireland and Welsh-land. The love them some videos in the desert, probably because their local “warm vacation spot” is Brighton.

Every Continental director (and most of the artists) I have worked with has really, really wanted to shoot in the desert outside of LA. They all feel that the song in question (no matter what it is) just sounds like the wide open spaces of the America Southwest. My guess, is that the desert is something they don’t have back home, so when they come here – they think it is a great inspiration to drag the camera crew out to the Mojave, or if you are on a tighter budget, Vasquez Rocks.

It is a cliché in LA-based production circles that if the crew is driving out to the desert in the pre-dawn hours – someone important on the job must have an accent. That is not to say that American artists are immune to the charms of the desert, but it seems to have a special draw to those from across the pond.

I started on a list, but ran out of inspiration. Maybe commenters can add in their suggestions for Euros in the desert videos. The Spice Girls were super-heroines in the desert, Radiohead was quirky, the Lighthouse Family was imminently forgettable and so on. The music actually does point to clips from Sting and the Clash being shot in the desert. U2 used an artificial desert, so that only kind of counts, but they did have that whole album called Joshua Tree. Alanis is Canadian, so she kind of counts. I know I must forgetting a ton of the, Surely Westlife and Robbie Williams have shot videos in the desert.

Of course the flip-side of this is the goofy stuff that US directors and artists always wanna shoot in Europe. Jay-Z had his recent “Hey look at me, I’m in Monaco. No really. Monaco. Check me out” moment for his unretirement. If you were in Paris, where should you shoot your video? Why right in front of the Eiffel Tower, just like Mariah and Usher.

What seems “new and exciting” to the person making the trans-Atlantic flight is guaranteed to make the locals roll their eyes and say “We have to get ANOTHER permit for there.”

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Ha, ha. I've worked on a few videos at Vasquez Rocks and Dumont Dunes. Funny thing is they were all for American alt rock bands. The desert for these bands is the same but different as shooting in an abandoned building.

Each one of these videos was miserable to work on. Freezing in the morning and about 115 by noon. Humping camera gear around all day. Give me a boring performance piece on a stage any day.
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