Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I guess this is just continuing the Zoolander theme established in a hilariously truthful post over on Shots Ring Out. You should check it out, both for the Mugatu image and for the “so crazy it can’t be real” reality of it all. Anyway, read on, once you come back …

In the recent Los Angeles edition of City Beat (our second-tier free medical marijuana and massage parlor ad paper) there was an article about the unintended consequences of the revitalization (or “fascist gentrification” for the antville types) of downtown Los Angeles. For years, downtown LA has been creepily empty after the sun goes down – but the city and developers have been trying to turn the old, decaying downtown around and it looks like they have finally made some changes. Too bad that looks to be bad for production.

As downtown L.A. becomes the city’s newest upscale community, motion picture and television companies are learning the hard way that they are no longer lords of the empty streets. Now, smells wafting from catering trucks and the roar of generators from the 2,235 permitted productions in 2006 alone are barely tolerated and there always seems to be new rules to follow. To date, the city has imposed 150 rules on downtown production, 15 percent more than in other area of the city. – City Beat

It would certainly cramp everyone’s style if shooting in downtown LA became like New York with no audible playback rules and seven block walks to the grip trucks. But at the same time, I would not want a production crew running playback of a Pretty Ricky song until 6am outside my cave.

Downtown is home to such famous music video shooting locations as the rooftop from “Where the Streets Have No Name”, the back of the sign on top of the Orpheum Theater and the Alexandria Hotel where David Fincher used to live. The grungier the place, the more likely it has been in a music video, and that got me thinking …

Why are so many videos (and other stuff) shot in crappy, abandoned, run-down places? I understand (at least some of) the social implications of the underclass or the youth taking over the structures abandoned by the powerful of society. I understand that it is cheaper to shoot in an empty building than it is to rent out the top floor at the new CAA headquarters.

I was recently going to a video location on the edge of downtown near the LA River and taking a kid who had never been to a video set before. I was telling the boy about how grungy the place would be and he asked why. The kid assumed that videos would be set someplace cool and glossy – aren’t musicians rich after all?

The kid had good questions and I stammered to answer them. The one thing I settled on was that abandoned buildings are cool. That’s it, dirty=cool. It’s all I got.


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The "rooftop" link you have links to a photo of Improv Everywhere's famous New York U2 rooftop prank, not the actual rooftop from LA.
Thanks, employee of Improv Everywhere. I made another mistake - Fincher never really lived at the Alexandria Hotel.
The more I think about it, the more sure I am that Zoolander is an allegory for the entire music video industry. "Magnum" is high definition music video distribution via YouTube free of label restrictions.

"You have to tame the beast before you let it out of it's cage"

- James SRO
dirty=cool - it's all I got

That made me laugh Mr. Thirtylicious.
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