Monday, June 11, 2007


In casino parlance, a Whale is the kind of big time gambler that gets all the comps and upgrades – because despite the effort and expense, the high-rolling whale ends up pumping major cash into the house’s pockets. In the world of music videos, the whale is just as profitable and the opposite of the mirage – but the whale is rare and getting rarer.

As a side note, did anyone else who saw "Ocean’s 13" think that Pacino’s tremendously ugly casino skyscraper looks like the strange twisting obelisk from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” album? Probably just a flashback from Journey being the last sound ever heard on the Sopranos. Anyway …

Whales are the kind of jobs that can really make the year for a prod co. Whales are ultra-high profit jobs because the paying party is never a regular record label. The entity cutting the checks could be – a movie studio, a video game or firm, a plutocratic family member, or even a coffee company named after a character in a whaling book. (Hmm.)

What all the whales have in common is that they are NOT used to commissioning videos. They don’t know the territory and they are easy pickings for a smart music video production company looking to, um, maximize profits. In this situation the prod co and director can come up with a grand concept (which the Whale will love since Whales are always looking to make a splash) and the music video pros have the advantage in that the people commissioning the job have no freaking idea what stuff is supposed to cost.

Labels are usually pretty good at knowing how much it costs to make a video and they have all kinds of mechanisms in place to monitor the price of the videos they are commissioning because they do it all the time. A Whale doesn’t know that a camera package should rent for less that $50k per day – how would they? The Whale has been off in their own world, very busy making scads of money in a field they understand completely. But now they are up the creek.

Whales are marked by having an excess of cash, a lack of experience and (this is key) a burning need to make a very special video for this particular project. Like Adam Goldberg’s (un-credited?) trust-fund baby-turned-movie-producer character on Entourage – the Whale has money burning a hole in their pocket and they want to spend it on something. Anything.

Some Whales are making a video to promote a movie and they are going all out. What is an extra $300k on a film that costs over $160million with prints and advertising? I have even heard of clips that were paid for by the ultra-wealthy (cough, cough, robber baron) parent of the artist. Daddy must love his baby daughter a whole bunch to hire Joseph Kahn, no?

Now that Starbucks has entered the world of making music videos – they are the new money getting jacked by the old hands. The talk is that Gondry spent US$1.5mil on the latest Paul McCartney clip – and that is just nuts. Starbucks Music got boned by He Whose Name is Always Spoken – and all the other directors and prod cos are sad that they didn’t get THEIR chance at the defenseless checkbook bloated by all those no-whip fraps.

That is what the whale does, they come to Vegas an puke up all their cash to the house. Ain’t life grand? As long as you’re not the whale.

Paul’s boy had an expression – something about karma.

That is probably why there are way more Mirages that Whales these days.

Instant karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead

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Lennon also asked the question of Sir Paul that would apply to the whale hunting prodcos and directors-- "How Do You Sleep?-
I would guess that they sleep pretty damn soundly, on a nice big pile of formerly starbucks money.
I think i missed it, where can I see said Starbucks-Gondry video?
daniel - you can access through that antville link or try here.
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