This page contains treatments
for videos you might have seen.
A treatment is…
a) a sales pitch to the artist and the label and
b) (if it’s accepted) a script for the video you are about to make.
I have purposefully not edited the treatments so that you can see my shameless sales technique at work, some interesting gaffes, and also try and spot the difference between the treatment and the final video!
I will take requests for concepts but will only pick one request a month. Click on the video you want to check out…
- Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me
- Cher – Believe
- Dashboard Confessional – Vindicated
- Fuel – Hemorrhage
- Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
- Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle
- Nickelback – Never Again
- Nickelback – Too Bad
- Savage Garden – I Want You
- Seether w. Amy Lee – Broken
- Britney Spears – Baby One More Time
- Britney Spears – Oops I Did It Again
- Staind – For You
BACKSTREET BOYS – As Long As You Love Me
dickfilm # 353
(Adapted from “All that I have to give” concept #1 4/25/97)
This video will be shot with long lenses, on 35 mm film. The colours sing and the filming technique is hip, slick and glossy. The attitude of the Backstreet Boys will play against this and we will sense a feeling of tongue-in-cheek-ness about the video. Throughout the narrative is a tangible sense of fantasy. Whatever our feelings at the beginning the Boys will emerge as victors: warm, approachable, able and friendly but with enough cockiness to make them watch-able and interesting.
The video opens in a large loft-type space – the kind of area that might be used for a casting location: maybe walls of natural light, a backdrop, racks of clothes, a kitchen area etc..
The Backstreet Boys are hanging in a corner of the space waiting for something to happen, looking out of the window, reading a paper, going through some dance steps, playing with a basketball etc.. Theyre bored – whoever it is theyre waiting for is late.
The door opens and a few ad agency drones wonder in followed by five Gorgeous Women. One by one the Boys turn, lower their glasses, lower their newspapers, stop their dance steps, drop the basketball and watch the five Women walk by. The Women walk in glorious slow-motion. In these five gorgeous shapes we see the gamut of modern professional womanhood: busy, ambitious, daring, sexy, feminine, arrogant, untouchable. There is a sense of danger and power about them. But they also seem to match the Backstreet Boys in range; from the tall, dark and professional woman to the younger, cute secretary.
The Women variously settle themselves around a desk, slouch in an easy chair and move towards the kitchen area. One of the Women opens a folder, puts on a pair of glasses and motions to Nick with her index finger. Nick walks into the centre of the room and starts to sing.
Surrounded by other agency types the Women watch as Nick auditions; the other four guys watch from the side lines.
The camera jump cuts and flash frames as Nick goes through his moves – at once nervous and confident. The five Women watch: one slumps in a chair and looks over her shades, one glances over occasionally while she talks on her mobile phone, one flips through headshots, one takes notes and one swings in her executive chair. Nick is trying as hard as he can to impress and gain their collective attention. One of the agency types records the scene with a video camera, we see a small monitor with Nick’s image playing back in it.
As Nick sings the other four guys prepare for their turn in front of the camera, they do a little dance step, button up a shirt, adjust a hat. Howie pushes a chair over in Nick’s direction. It slides to a stop behind him and Nick sits down.
As we reach the first chorus the Woman in the executive chair picks up a TV remote from the table in front of her, points it at Nick and presses a button. As Nick sings, sitting in the chair, he metamorphoses into Kevin. After a few moments the Woman presses the remote again and Kevin changes into A.J. who then changes to Brian, to Howie and finally back to Nick again.
(How we do this? We choreograph a routine involving the chair whereby all five guys do exactly the same routine: sitting down at the same moment, standing up at the same time, moving around the chair and sitting down on it again. We shoot the scene with a locked off camera – and a locked off chair and backdrop – and then merge the images together in post. The nature of the edit / switch / merge / dissolve / jump cut from one Boy to the next will is yet to be determined.)
As the chorus comes to an end one of the other girls picks up the remote and punches a button and Nicky changes into Brian who sings the second verse.
The Boys have entered into the spirit of the audition and are doing everything to win the Women over. The Women act unimpressed and make more calls, one pulls a carton of milk from a fridge and drinks while she watches, another one looks over her glasses to check a detail on an 8×10 of the band with one of the faceless agency people in the background.
As Brian sings we intercut with all five band members in separate footage shot against the same background laughing, posing, standing, sitting in various outfits. We establish in the first couple of cuts a board that stands beside them: Howie D. Wardrobe test. Kevin, Wardrobe test. etc.. These set-ups enable us to see great personality footage of the band members. Sometimes one of the band members can execute a move and we jump cut to one of the other guys doing a similar move.
As Brian sings the chorus the other four guys emerge from his body and a routine develops. As this happens all the Women suddenly start to pay particular attention to what is going on and move up to the table until they are all grouped behind the key Woman Executive.
The Boys routine brings them closer and closer to the women at the table until they are leaning over the table just inches from the Women’s faces. At the end of the chorus A.J. slips his hand down on the remote and passes it behind his back to Kevin, to Howie to Nicky.
During the eight bars of solo the Boys back away from the table and Nicky produces the remote, points it at the Women and presses a button…’As long as you love me…’
In front of our very eyes the Women and the location in which we see them and The Boys changes into what appears to be a completely different setting! This is done in such a way that although the furniture and the Women change their locations the positions of the furniture and the postures of the Women remains entirely fixed creating the impression that we have passed into some parallel universe. (We will do this in the same location only dress it differently).
The Women now seem more like Girls or Young Women. Their clothing is less business-like or self cohe rehearsal space self-conscious and embarrassed. Wind whips around them and the camera moves slowly towards them as Brain sings… ‘I don’t care as long as you love me.’
Brian takes the remote from Nicky and presses it. The five Girls become one Girl.
Now it is not the Boys who have to model clothes and audition but figures that change from one to another, a leaping figure that takes off as one Girl and lands as another and so on.
One of the Girls has proven to be more mischievous and subordinate than the others (probably the Girl equivalent of the casting Woman who was slumped in the chair and chewed gumaSAs). She approaches the Boys grabs hold of the remote; the “wand” has changed hands and the Boys and the Girls are transported back to the original casting location.
The Girls are now haughty Women again and the Boys finish their routine with a devil-may-care attitude. As the end of the song arrives the Boys march out of the casting space with the same cocky feel we first saw them with.
Back inside the space the Women pack up and make their way towards the door. As they reach the door we cut to the other side of the door.
Emerging from the door are not the five haughty Women, but the five young GIRLS! They race off up the street, down the stairs, up the corridor (location will decide) after the Backstreet Boys.
Freeze frame. The End.
© Nigel Dick ’97
I’d first written this treatment for “All that I have to give” but the label hated it. When they needed a second video from the boys just two weeks later they rang me up and said, “Remember that great treatment you wrote 2 weeks ago? Any chance you could use it on this song?” When it came time to cast the FIVE girls the label asked for a sixth girl – and the girl they chose became Brian’s wife.
CHER – Believe
This concept incorporates some ideas discussed with Cher today : Mechanical Cher / Regular Cher / Cher as a guardian angel who appears and disappears. The lighting and vibe needs to be contemporary and have a youthful energy. We discussed creating a concept that had a linear quality but that was not necessarily all the letters in a story from A-Z.
As the music starts we find ourselves in a dark and empty club at night. The club is located in the industrial part of town and we feel that raves are conducted here on an occasional basis – i.e. it’s not a regular club that’s open every night with a formal bar etc. We see a glass case in the empty club with a lone statue-like figure inside it. It is too dark to see who or what the figure might be even though brief thin shafts of light pass across it. Perhaps for a moment we sense two tiny points of light as if eyes have blinked in the gloom.
We see brief flashes of information outside the club as a roaring muscle car tears up and four girls pile out of the vehicle. They have the attitude of Rollergirl in Boogie Nights and the freaky hair and stacked shoes of any current fashion spread. A collection of other club types are converging on the doorway of the club where a big tattooed man stamps their hands – a palpable sense of tension hangs in the air.
Verse one, chorus one…
Inside the building it is not so much Club 54 as Studio 99. The place seems densely packed and in incredibly slow motion the crowd parts as our four hero girls walk in. The rest of the crowd are glam types, dread-heads, shiny-heads: a collision of riotous pop culture.
Cher has started singing. Of course she is the figure inside the glass case which has the dimensions of a Phone booth – this is Mechanical Cher. Her performance is all about her eyes and her mouth and occasional movements of her hands. Her face is perfectly lit though the rest of her is very dark. The kids press against the glass of the booth. Their bodies sway to the music, lights from deep in the club sweep across their hair, we can feel their sweat, see their breath and the fingerprints they leave on the glass of the booth as Cher sings. They are pushing to get a view of Cher in the booth – their attitude is totally devotional. Cher remains completely calm as she sings. We shoot the performance in the verse with a 90° shutter so that Cher’s performance seems extra mechanical. At the vocoder moments we slip two images of her together (post effect) so that we see a shift in picture which matches the sound. This is obviously a unique fixture which only this club can provide.
On the dance floor kids dance at a furious rate. Some moments are captured in intense slow-motion, others with incredible energy – the camera shuddering and shaking as heads swing and butts shake..
We have now established that one of the girls who climbed from the car is our heroine, let’s call her G, who pushes her way through the crowd looking for someone – a guy who we’ll call Doyle. G finds what she’s looking for: Doyle is flirting with a girl in the corner. In very slow motion G watches Doyle. Doyle turns and sees not G but Cher there: ‘I can’t break through, there’s no talking to you.’ His eyes widen. We cut back to find ourselves looking at G who turns away.
Verse two, chorus two…
Cher continues, for the moment, to sing in the glass booth. The kids continue to buzz around the glass like so many moths around a glowing light that feeds them energy.
G slumps in a corner booth with her three friends. Across the crowded room she sees moments of Doyle working the crowd with his new girl. G watches him intently: ‘What am I supposed to do, sit around and wait for you? Well I can’t do that.’ As the camera intercuts we see that it is Cher who watches him now. Doyle is visibly disturbed by this. We cut back and find it is G watching him again.
At the second chorus the entire club seems to freeze as a bolt of light hurtles through the club from the glass case to a circular dais which has appeared in the centre of the club (post effect). Mechanical Cher has become regular Cher. As the waves of light wash over the audience a massive wind blows in the club and Cher leans into that wind to sing the second chorus and the bridge with enormous energy and commitment: ‘I know that I’ll get through this, I know that I’m strong, I don’t need you anymore.’ The kids dance around her with an equal intensity – again intense slow motion intercut with frenetic energy.
Seeing Doyle having a good time with his new girl is too much for G who pushes her way through the crowd and races up the fire escape to the roof of the building. The camera spins around G as she finds herself alone overlooking the city.
Behind her in the darkness is a shift in the picture (post effect) and Cher appears. G walks towards the edge of the roof and then notices Doyle leaving the club with his new girl. G moves yet closer to the edge.
Behind G, Cher holds her arms open wide as she sings. A rush of wind occurs and G disappears from foreground and finds herself standing back from the edge and in the position that Cher formerly occupied (matched dissolve of lock-off shot with light post effect). In super slow motion G?s eyes glint for a second (post effect) and she turns away from the scene and makes her way towards the fire escape.
Back at the edge of the building Cher is now standing where G was. Her body dissolves into the night (ghostly post effect) and we fade to black.
© Nigel Dick, ’98
This concept assumes a two day shoot. Cher would be required for only one day which would include a few hours of night shooting on the roof.
As it happened we shot the video in London and when we got up on the roof it was pelting with rain and despite the fact it was wet and very cold Cher never complained, never said a word. I was very impressed.
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL – Vindicated
dickfilm # 455
We find a copy of a Spider-Man comic and as the wind blows the pages open we realise that the Spider-Man footage and the Dashboard Confessional footage are all in the same Marvel comic. Please refer to attached 8 full colour pictures. Video is shot in full colour and edited full screen.
…on an interior view of a tumbledown apartment that resembles Peter Parker’s apartment in the movie. It is night and we notice that the window is open and a storm is breaking outside. The camera moves towards a table by the window and as a brilliant flash of lightning smashes across the sky outside we find ourselves framed up on a copy of a Spider-Man comic entitled VINDICATED. The cover image is a freeze frame of an image of Spidey flying through the sky from the movie Spider-Man 2. (See Picture below). We can hear the ominous brewing guitar chord building underneath as the camera approaches the comic.
As the camera stops another blinding flash of lightning occurs, the music crashes in and a gust of wind blows open the comic book so we can see inside. The image rotates so that the pages of the comic book fill our screen and we notice straight away that images from the movie occur in the same pages as images of the band. .
As the intro unfolds we notice that footage of Peter Parker walking on his way to class are complemented by images of the band walking up stairs and through a beaten-up industrial location that reminds us of the wrecked pier where Dr. Octavius tries to rebuild his power machine.
We cut full frame to footage of the band so that we don’t use up our ration of movie footage too quickly.
Chris and the band starts to play and we notice that as well as full frame images of them performing there are also multiple images cut together in the same format as the Spidey magazine. (See picture below). We notice that the look of the band performance footage closely matches the look of the movie footage. We also notice that the way in which the multiple frames of band or band-and-movie footage are created, with white borders and clean black outlines, instantly say Marvel comic book to us. We feel as if we are inside a Marvel magazine. These borders and frames are created in post.
(Please note that the images I have included of the band were just ones I could find. Please ignore actions or colours.)
As the band performs we notice that the location feels like Doc Oc’s impromptu lab, we use exterior shots of the tumble-down pier to enforce this impression. Occasional flashes of lightning break the night outside and the wet concrete floor reflects the cold moonlight. We will shoot entire run throughs of the band in this location. As we do so we continue to intercut the band’s performance with images from the movie in much the same way that we did in the Chad Kroeger ‘Hero’ video, sometimes full frame, sometimes inserted in a frame with the band, except that here the footage appears, not in a large billboard, but in panels beside the band footage as described.
Sometimes as we’re cutting to the footage of the band, or the movie, we employ another graphic technique from the famous Marvel comic style. In the top frame you will notice that as Spidey jumps out of the window the right hand side of the image has a background whereas on the left his leg, hand and Spider Thwipp are all against white. Choosing certain frames from the movie and certain frames from the performance we will imitate this look. See the lower images of Chris and the band.
Transitions between full frame images and multiple images are created in post whereby the camera zooms into one frame in a multiple frame shot until it fills the new frame. A close up of the comic lying on the desk in our original location (the apartment that reminds us of Peter Parker’s place) will be used occasionally as more wind blows to suggest pages turning.
The band footage will be shot with dramatic angles that remind us of the wonderful Marvel images that Sam Raimi and co. have so perfectly recreated in the Spider-Man movies. Low angles of the band with close up elements; Dutch angles which accentuate the drama of a scene; nighttime skies with a yellow moon in the distance; high, slowly spinning, angles.
As we cut to the movie footage we use the exciting imagery of the action sequences but also concentrate on reflecting the wonderful love story between Peter Parker and Mary-Jane being careful not to give away the ending! Sometimes our split screen / multiple frame imagery can be used to accentuate the drama in the story. E.g. Peter’s forlorn look up the stairs is on the left-hand side of the frame while Mary-Jane and her fiancée descend the steps on the right hand side of the frame.
In some cases we study the movie footage closely and create similarly framed images so that Chris and Peter Parker or Spidey are moving in the same way. (E.g. Peter’s look as Doc Oc approaches him after the car has crashed into the coffee shop or Spidey’s close up turn into frame against the sky from the trailer.) By showing the movie version and our version in adjacent frames we get a sense that Chris is expressing Peter’s unspoken emotions. Thus the video is more than just a vehicle for showing off some sexy shots from the movie it also endorses the emotional impact of Peter’s conundrum that is the central theme of the picture.
In other cases Chris can be seen in one part of the frame while a movie image appears in another that relates somehow to what he is singing about. E.g. “Hope dangles on a string” is complemented by footage of Spidey holding Aunt May’s fall with a strand of his Spider’s web; “Like the diamond in your ring” is complemented by the image of the ring on Mary-Jane’s hand.
Finally as the song reaches its end Chris walks alone away from the band. He appears on a ledge as if looking down to the distant street below and he looks wistfully over the edge as he sings the final lines one more time: “Hope dangles on a string, like slow spinning redemption.” The camera pulls wider and we realise that the image is freezing and is part of a page from the comic book with three images inside it: Chris at the ledge in one; Mary-Jane, hanging from Spidey’s web is in the second frame; Spider-Man flying to save her is the third image. Thus the three most important elements of the video are captured in front of us. The camera pulls a little wider and we can see the comic book lying on the desk in the battered apartment. We notice a final slash of lightning and another gust of wind as the last page of the comic book is blown over and we see that the final page has been revealed and it reads…
© Nigel Dick 2004
When the video was finally delivered it was rejected by the studio because there was dirt in some of the Spiderman footage and we were informed in no uncertain terms that our delivery was “unacceptable and unbroadcastable.” Interestingly the dirty footage was from their trailer which had been playing on TV screens for weeks and we were previously told could not be touched. (There were more pictures in my original submission but I just picked the two most representative ones.)
FUEL – Hemorrhage
Brett looks over the city as he sings – somewhere across town a drama unfolds… Dramatic, punchy colour. The video has a striking visual approach but also an undeniable edge and attitude to its look.
the music starts…
…and we see the band performing in an amazing space: tough, modern surfaces reflect and shine in the space. We notice shafts of steel, planes of glass. Pieces of angular, modern furniture litter the space.
As Carl and the other band members move toil over their instruments Brett presses his body and his hands against the large window as he looks outside. We will shoot the band together in the space and close-ups of all individuals. We will pay particular attention to Brett who is shot to look like a star. We see him against the glass both from outside and from behind. We see him against a wall inside the space, we see him beautifully lit and reflective inside the room. We find him lounging back in a sharp black leather chair, all angles and steel legs. We see a moment or two of Brett with a guitar, but mostly we see him as a singer.
In the solo section of the song we find that as well as the performance footage of the band in the space, we are intercutting with footage of Brett on the roof of the building. The wind ruffles his hair and the sky is crushed, intense and dark. He holds his hands out like the crucifix atop Sugar-Loaf Mountain in Rio as he looks over the city.
…We see Brett looking over the city from his vantage point at the window. His POV (point of view) zooms across the roofs of the city. Finally it jump cuts & zooms in towards Doug, a late teenage guy (Skechers, half-pants, skateboard tatt etc. ) hanging out on the stoop of his low rent single storey house. We feel that we?re on the cheaper side of town and we sense some industry close by but this is NOT Cracktown. Doug?s large, colourful and aging car sits in the drive.
( We jump cut / zoom into each image in the same way that Decker zoomed into the picture of the girl in the bath-tub in Blade Runner: we start wide and the image jumps larger and larger into frame until we rest on the pertinent visual object in the scene. There is an obscure quality to the way we see some of these images so that we grasp maybe the last moments of what the scene entails.)
The camera moves towards Doug who stares straight ahead and he seems to be daydreaming. The camera pushes in towards his face. By dissolving two locked-off shots over each other we sense that he daydreams he is getting up from the stoop and walking inside the house. (In one shot he continues to look straight ahead, in the other he gets to his feet and moves inside).
Doug walks inside the house which he shares with Janet his girlfriend. It?s no palace but it?s home to these guys. He?s moving in very slow motion (60 fps). Doug looks at the picture of Janet and himself by a rocking chair in the garden that is stuck into a corner of the hall mirror. He looks around the bedroom, sees a dress laid out on the bed and the phone off its hook – he replaces it. In the bathroom he finds a tap running into the bath, he turns it off. In the empty kitchen he finds a bubbling pan of water which he removes from the heat.
Doug runs out into the back yard which is overgrown and rambling and at first he doesn?t see Janet. Then he turns and sees her body bent over on the grass. He rushes over and grabs her limp form. She?s still alive but only just – her eyes are watery and weak and she clutches at her waist – her hands are full of blood – (we only see a little of it).
Doug clutches her for a second, the blood trickles across his fingers and then races inside to get on the phone. Back in the garden he clutches the woman he loves dearer than life itself and weeps as she slips away in his arms.
Later – Doug?s figure wearing the best suit he?s got (it looks ungainly and unnatural on him) stands alone in the back yard with a small bunch of flowers in his hand. He places the flowers gingerly on the rocking chair and stands back to think – he looks down at his hands and imagines the blood that ran across them. He cuts a lonesome figure and tears fill his eyes and he reaches to the heavens in his pain for some kind of understanding.
Later still – Doug stares straight into camera like he did at the start. His gaze is intense and, we must assume, sad. Until soft hands cover his eyes. Is he dreaming? He finds Janet sitting at his side smiling. She is wearing the dress he saw lying on the bed. Doug is overcome with emotion and scoops her up in his arms, passionate and real. She?s laughing at this sudden show of emotion.
Back across town the track is coming to an end and as Brett turns away from the window we fade to black. THE END…
© Nigel Dick 2000
If you examine this video closely you’ll notice that the bass player bears an uncanny resemblance to me. Wait a minute. It is me…
GUNS N’ ROSES – Sweet Child O’ Mine
GUNS N’ ROSES will be shot in the Ballroom location in Huntington Park. The band’s gear will be set up in the centre of the room as if in rehearsal. They are surrounded by their equipment, cabinets, road cases etc. They are lit dramatically with Xenons, but ambient light from this lighting spills into other parts of the room.
The band perform the song and we will shoot them from every conceivable angle using two cameras. We will adopt a semi-documentary approach in that we will make no attempt whatsoever to hide the crew from the camera. Very often one camera will see the other, members of the crew and other hangers-on will be seen in the background. However our focus is very definitely on the band and each set-up will be used to show the band in performance at their very best. Despite the documentary approach we will still take great care with lighting at all times.
In addition to the two camera set-up we will have two Bolex cameras on call and will have copious amounts of stock available so that we can capture informal and light-hearted moments during the shoot with the band. This Bolex footage will be transformed to tape in Black and White. It will be grainy! It will be fun!
We will add some props to the Ballroom to enhance its current seedy, rundown look. We will place lots of old chairs around and add to the atmosphere that already exists there. We will create a couple of dressing room areas with lights so that we can shoot some of the Bolex footage there too.
The end result will be that we will have loads of footage of GUNS N’ ROSES both in performance and relaxing that we can cut together to create an exciting video that will capture the essence and character that is GUNS N’ ROSES.
© Guns N’ Roses / Alan Niven / Nigel Dick 1988
Those were the days – 5 short paragraphs. Wish it were that easy now.
GUNS N’ ROSES – Welcome To The Jungle
GUNS N’ ROSES will perform the number onstage at the Whiskey. We will shoot the band’s close-ups during the day and then let in a regular audience that evening and shoot them during their live show. They will play the song perhaps two or three times during the show. There will probably be a need for some exctra lighting for the stage show in addition to what they have at the Whiskey but we are not talking about massive lighting rigs etc.We would like to have access to a small crane.
THE CONCEPT: (To be intercut with performance):
Axel (the lead singer) steps off a Greyhound bus in Hollywood at night. He has just arrived in town complete with case and guitar. (To be shot on lacation day 2).
Axel walks up to a Television store and looks into the window. (Night ext. day 2).
Axel’s POV of the television store window. There are a number of TV sets all showing various scenes of violence, civil unrest, contemporary advertising etc. These pieces of footage would need to be obtained from a library. The TV ads could be anything from the last 5 years but does not need to show package shots or product names. All the TV sets should be different. I would suggest we build this window on a set. (To be shot in a studio day 2).
Axel is in a seedy hotel bedroom with a girl. They are watching a number of TV sets. Once again the screens are filled with violent images. Amongst these images we must include Manson, the Nightstalker and other ‘key’ figures. I would suggest that this room is built on a set. (To be shot in a studio day 2).
Axel is now strapped into a large chair in a clinical room. He wears a straight jacket and a head brace. He is forced to watch a bank of modern high tech TV monitors. (These are not the monitors we have seen previously). Once again the images on the screen are of violence. Eventually Axel screams, terrified. I would suggest that this room is built on a set. (To be shot in a studio day 2).
Reprise of Part Three. We see Axel’s screaming face on all the Tv screens in the shop window. (NB this is the first time that the TV screens having been showing the same image as each other).
Reprise of Part Two. Axel is standing in front of the window of the TV store. He sees himself screaming on the TV’s, shrugs his shoulders and walks away.
I guess I didn’t know how to spell Axl’s name properly – I hadn’t met the band when I wrote this. The treatment was basically handed to me by Alan Niven over the phone and I put it in order and I typed it out, which is the way Alan and I would work, I guess that’s why I typed the phrase ‘key’ figures the way I did. It’s interesting to note Axl’s early fascination with Manson even before the release of the first album.
NICKELBACK – Never Again
We cut a ripping performance piece from the existing Live In Edmonton footage utilizing hot pieces from other numbers in the show – in other words we condense the magic of the 70 minute piece into 3 rocking
Because the lyrical content of the song is intense this is NOT an occasion where close-ups of bouncing babes in the front row are welcome. Consequently our cut of the live footage will focus on the band and will
only feature wide sweeping moments of the audience to place the band?s performance in a context.
When cut together the live footage is then treated so it feels more extreme, edgier and harder than the existing live cut. (The treatment we used for the long-form was meant to be more realistic and less artful – a
reflection of the live show as witnessed).
We stage a shoot in a tired, beaten up apartment which feels as if it might be in a typical project in New York or any other North American metropolitan city. The action takes place inside and involves three
spaces: staircase, the hallway and the apartment living room.
This shoot is executed guerrilla COPS style. A couple of digital handy cams, one digital stills cam, a hand held light that fits on top of the camera. No dollies, no tripods, no grips, no gaffers, no motorhomes, no
playback, no hair-stylists etc. The footage that comes from this small shoot is edgy, real, gritty, powerful.
We are witnesses at a crime scene just after a murder has taken place. We notice the emotions of the cops, the witnesses and the abused wife who has committed the crime – we see glimpses of the crime scene but the horror and the emotion is registered in the words of the song and in the reactions of the actors.
The action includes…A woman?s face screaming. 2 uniformed cops run up the stairs of the apartment building. The cops reach ground zero – 4 witnesses are staring into an open door and look anxiously at the
uniformed men as they arrive.
The men look inside the door and can tell instantly what the scenario is…most importantly we can?t. Cop One immediately starts pushing the onlookers back, Cop Two gets on the radio calling for back-up.
Cop One is takes notes from one of the witnesses (a woman neighbour, 30?s) who explains to the cop what happened: (?She must have done something wrong tonight…?) Cop One interview?s another one of the
witnesses: male, nerdy, glasses, also a witness. (?I hear her scream from down the hall, amazing she can even talk at all….?).
Sanchez, a young, earnest detective has arrived and is getting his first impressions. He discusses the scene with Cop One (?Seen it before but not like this…?) The young detective looks over Cop One?s shoulder at the crime scene, taking in what he can. With him we see for the first time, Deneice, a woman in shock, the perp., looking confused, shaking, sitting on a chair in a corner trying to figure what has happened.
Sanchez patiently interviews Deneice, her hair is a mess, her eyes are red with tears, her make-up has run, her blouse is ripped and she has scratches on her arm. (?she looks at you, she wants the truth…?). Deneice waves her arm behind her pointing at the body which we see for the first time now lying under a coroner?s sheet. Deneice breaks down and Sanchez gets to his feet and sighs – on nights like this he hates his job.
Crime Scene Photographer arrives and takes pictures of the crime scene and his flash illuminates the room but all we see are glimpses: a cold dead hand, a smashed vase and beer bottles, an upturned chair.
Mitchell, an unshaven, older weather-beaten detective has wearily climbed the stairs. The cops and Sanchez treat him with the deference automatically given to a superior.
The crime scene has now been cleared of everyone except Mitchell and Sanchez: an outline is all that remains of the body, the door is open but a crime scene tape blocks anyone from entering. As Mitchell tips the chair up the proper way, sits wearily down and lights a cigarette, Sanchez, putting rubber gloves on and taking a ball point pen from his pocket, explains how the crime went down: ?He?s drunk again…? (he points to the broken beer bottles), ?she grabs the gun, she?s had enough…? (he points to the weapon on the floor with his ball point pen), ?pulls the trigger fast as she can, never again…? (he points at the outline on the floor).
Mitchell nods at Sanchez, satisfied with the young detective?s analysis of the crime, and walks to the window. He takes a weary drag from his cigarette and coughs, his body shaking with years of wear and tear.?Been there before but not like this…?
Mitchell makes a statement to the press. In the tight doorway of the tenement he is blinded by the lights of the camera crews and microphones are thrust in his face. His face is pale and tired. (?Never before have I seen it this bad…?).
The images from this story are distilled into perhaps 20 or thirty looks / moments which are just enough to endorse the lyrics of the story. Many of these images are abstract images of Deneice as she sits in the corner of the room waiting for some kind of judgment (never delivered). As these images are shot on tape they are treated in exactly the same way as the live footage from Edmonton – edgy, hard.
These moments are intercut with the live footage from Edmonton. Brief glimpses of information and emotion that complement the lyrical content of the song. But band performance reigns supreme.
With the live performance / conceptual footage as our bed we then overlay this bed with graphics, letters, phrases and information in the way trailers are made for sports shows, news programs, ESPN, CNN, ABC, FOX, upcoming episodes of The Law or whatever.
The way the lettering and graphics appear is sharp, cool and almost disguises the potent information that it contains. The fonts are edgy, they stutter and shudder on screen, they fill textured boxes which move
around the frame. Unlike the Rage Against the machine videos where the information is LARGE, full screen, direct and in your face, lingering on screen for some time, the NICKELBACK version contains information in much smaller fonts and is cleverly cut up so that it will require frequent viewings for the viewer to absorb all the detail. In each case the information starts with a number.
For example: brief frames appear which say 4 MILLION overlaid over the existing footage. A few seconds later another caption reads: WOMEN A YEAR ARE ASSAULTED BY THEIR PARTNERS. A brief caption appears 37%…seconds later the follow up caption reads OF ALL WOMEN EXPERIENCE BATTERING. Similarly: 95%………….OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS ARE WOMEN. And: 93%…………OF WOMEN WHO KILLED THEIR MATES HAD BEEN BATTERED BY THEM.
By breaking up the sentences and keeping the titles small we tantalize the viewer rather than knocking him over the head with the information, the viewer needs to work to find it. This video is the antithesis of Pop-Up Video. The slogans are delivered at a time which suits the lyrical content of the song and the visuals we create.
And as Chad sings Never Again the letters N-E-V-E-R-A-G-A-I-N fly one by one at the screen like bullets hurtling towards the viewer. It almost gives one whip-lash as you feel like you?re ducking from the letters.
© Nigel Dick 2002
A number of people have asked about this video – especially as it was never released. We already had performance footage from the Live At Home show, could we find a way to use this footage and mix it up with something conceptual? As the live show had been shot on tape I came up with this idea and was allowed to shoot it on a small budget. I thought it worked really well and loved the way it punched home a theme about domestic violence which the lyrics supported. Obviously the band and the label didn’t agree. The conceptual footage was shelved and they went with a performance only version.
NICKELBACK – Too Bad
overview…Set in the soggy autumnal countryside of western Canada we intercut exciting performance footage of Nickelback with a concept that follows the lyrics of the song.
We will shoot the performance footage of Nickelback in a large, down to earth, gritty environment – the scale of the building reflects the power of the band’s music the grit reflects the elemental rock n’ roll vibe of the song. Letterbox matte.
intro & prelude…In a window with chintzy lace curtains we see a black and white photograph of a smiling man in workmans overalls standing slightly apart from an 11 year-old boy in a garden. The father holds a garden hose in one hand and we can see the truck they are washing in the background. We pull focus from the photograph through the window as an older version of the smiling man scrunches past outside. (If necessary we will extend the opening, chiming guitar chords over this scene).
first verse…”Fathers hands were lined with dirt”…A heavy logging truck hurtles down the road as it passes the man (Vincent, rough-hewn and early fifties, a Jason Robards type with callused hands) approaching his roadside mailbox. He opens the one letter inside and one word, in large red print, stands out on the letter: FORECLOSURE. Vincents eyes fill with tears and he screws the letter up into a ball. We notice that the colours of the film are muted and drained.
The logging truck continues down the road and passes a roadside truck stop on the edge of town where we find Irene, a late fortyish worn out Susan Sarandon type, taking off her apron as she leaves work for the day and locks up…”Mothers hands are serving meals.” She climbs into a modest family-style Ford and drives away.
first chorus…”And all I hear about is how its so bad…” A tired white farmhouse sits next to a tumbling barn on a hill nestled in a clump of trees as we find Michael, Vincent and Irenes eleven year-old son, weathered but still boyish, in a heavy coat walking along the barely paved, rain-drenched road running up to the farm with his bag of books over his shoulder.
Irene’s Ford comes up the lane and Michael jumps happily inside but as they arrive at the farmhouse his face drops. Vincent is throwing a gunny sack into the back of a rusted red pick-up truck. He gives them a lingering look full of the confusion and conflicting emotions that are racing through his mind. Michael studies his father’s face and watches as he climbs in his truck and speeds away. Irene leaps out of her Ford and races after Vincent, waving her hands in the air, but he never looks back. She turns to look at Michael with tears in her eyes and watches as he rips the wrinkled FORECLOSURE letter from a rusty nail in the farmhouse door – a battered crucifix also hangs from the nail. He looks down the empty road after his Father: “It’s too bad that we had no time…”
second verse and chorus… “You left without saying goodbye.” Irene’s Ford , loaded high with a roof-rack full of furniture and household items stops at the roadside mailbox where we first met Vincent. Michael climbs out of the car, removes some last letters from the box and glances at the FOR SALE sign at the farm gate. In a fit of rage he yanks the mailbox from its post and throws it in the ditch.
We cut to an elaborate shot (visual effects) outside Irene’s Roadside Diner which shows the passage of time as if assisted by a dust devil of autumnal leaves that blows past: in front of our eyes, Irene’s car ages eight years – the hubcaps disappear, the paintwork fades and becomes dented – meanwhile shrubbery climbs the diner, signs change and an awning appears or falls apart.
Inside we find Irene, now older and more weathered herself, busily pouring coffee and serving customers while she talks on the phone. She guiltily puts the phone down when she sees Michael now a strong young man, with the weight of the world on his shoulders and his father’s crucifix round his neck: “You call and ask from time to time…”
“But you weren’t there when I needed you the most.” Vincent, now working at a lumber mill (or steel-works), hangs up the phone, wipes the sweat from his brow, and takes a break. He goes to the door and, as he lights a cigarette, watches a heavy logging truck entering the yard. He takes a big lung-full of smoke and sighs hard (“aphone) n empty diner. Michael, who has been mopping the floor, answers his Mother back, she slaps his face, he throws down the mop in a fit of rage. (We also shoot alternate version where his Mother throws down the mop).
Michael grabs his Mother’s keys from the till and runs out of the Diner lugging a tattered old suitcase leaving Irene, sobbing and unable to catch her breath. She collapses onto a chair and drops her head to the table.
Outside Michael throws his case into the battered Ford and the car peels out onto the road.
solo…Intercut with Chad’s wrenching solo we find the Ford hurtling down the road while inside Michael slams down harder on the gas pedal trying to release his fury. As he drives his view of the road starts to blur and in desperation he grips harder at the wheel, his foot presses yet harder on the gas. We push closer towards his eyeballs which seem to change colour in front of us as the capillaries twitch and pulse in the whites of his eyes (visual effects). It seems to Michael as if his father is everywhere, always wearing the overalls we saw in the photograph in the opening frame – sitting beside him in the car, in the reflection of the rear view mirror, hammering on the side window, laughing at him, shouting at him, grabbing him and finally running down the road towards the car.
Michael lunges at the wheel to avoid the image of his father running towards him and the car goes out of control and leaves the road. Seen entirely from Michael’s point of view we watch as the car crashes through a fence and hurtles towards hedges and shrubbery. Amongst the cascade of debris (both real and enhanced with visual effects) that hurtles towards the screen in front of Michael, we see Michael’s father laughing as he sprays water at the car windshield – the water and the debris comes as one as Michael’s eyes open with fear and he braces himself for impact. On the double beat at the end of the solo a large piece of lumber, thrown up by the careening vehicle hurtles at the screen and shatters it into a thousand starred shapes.
We cut to an image of the crashed and finally stationary car lodged nose down in a field with its rear in the air and one wheel spinning.
third verse… We fade briefly to black and return to Chad’s performance – it seems as if the blue and red lights of emergency vehicles are playing on his face as he sings: “Father’s hands are lined with guilt for tearing us apart…”
The music suddenly stops as we cut to Vincent in the saw-mill (steel-works) pushing a sheet of wood through a circular saw (grinding the new weld on a large piece of steel). The harsh noise is a sudden jolt to the senses. A co-worker rushes up and yells into Vincent’s ear over the noise of the saw / grinder that he has a phone call. Vincent picks up the swinging telephone in the corner of the mill and the look on his face tells us he’s received bad news. He slams the phone down and jumps into his battered pick-up as the track kicks in once more.
“Made it out, still got clothing on our backs…” At the scene of Michael’s crash lights flash as Michael’s stretcher is pulled from the ditch. Michael’s leg is in a splint and he is at rock bottom, closing his eyes and holding his head in one hand as he nods his head at his foolishness.
third chorus…A beat-up taxi pulls up outside the diner. Irene opens the passenger door and helps Michael out of the car, his leg in plaster. She pulls out crutches and his battered case and together they slowly make their way to the diner. Irene holds open the door and Michael hops inside and is frozen on the spot. Sitting at the counter, drinking coffee and with his gunny sack leant against a stool, is Vincent. The camera pushes in on Michael’s face as Vincent, stubbing out a cigarette, turns round to face him. The lingering look – a conversation of unspoken words and thoughts between father and son – reminds us of the scene when Vincent left home.
Irene looks outside the diner where Vincent stands alone. For a second we are unsure what has taken place until we notice Michael hobbling into shot to join his father. They turn and walk away together: “Let’s Walk, Let’s talk.” The image of the father and son next to each other, not too close, not too far, freezes and the colour drains away until the image becomes hauntingly similar to the opening frame of Vincent and his young son we saw at the start of the video.
We fade to black.
© Nigel Dick, 2001
This concept was requested by Ed Lammas from Birmingham, England who thought that the video was “stunning and wouldn’t be the same if any of it was edited out.” Thanks Ed – unfortunately the version you’ve been seeing in the UK does have stuff edited out which apparently MTV Europe refused to show!
SAVAGE GARDEN – I Want You
We find ourselves in a future-tech, industrial location with hi-tech styled furnishings and fittings. At one end hangs a large white screen and in the foreground, in silhouette, we can see strange apparatus.
As the tinny intro starts we see a small mechanical toy appear on the screen, it’s shape is vaguely human, robot-like. It moves towards us on it’s own.
With flash cuts we notice two figures arriving in the area of the apparatus: Darren and Daniel. They move both in slow motion and at sped-up tempos. With help from Daniel, Darren is connected up to the apparatus.
Darren stands with his face jammed in one of those devices an optician uses so that you can’t move your head. A small device pans light up and down his face like a laser scanning the image which will be projected onto the huge screen. We pan away again and see a guitar bolted between two huge poles. Daniel plays the guitar but can walk away from it at any time which he frequently does to play parts on a collection of keyboards and other technical devices we can see behind him. A huge wonderfully engineered sound trumpet has been placed with its small end close to the guitar and the big end pointed at the screen. At the end of the guitar trumpet we see the cone of a huge loudspeaker wobbling with the rhythms of the track.
We cut to the big screen. A flicker and then Darren’s face appears. He seems very pale and his skin appears to have stretched tight so that he has no sides to his face or any ears. As a result all we can see is his mouth, nose and eyes. He starts to sing. The movements of his face seem animated / stuttering as he sings. As Darren sings, typewritten images of words from the song, like Orwell’s blipverts, are cut into his performance: face, eyes, mind, magenta feeling, tight, again, arms, human, evolve, higher, closer, get 2U, find out, want, you, person, deep, commitment, interaction, talking, breathe in, want you, need you, don’t, crystal, shelter, cola etc.
Whenever Daniel plays a big chord on the guitar the screen shows a host of Daniels in silhouette crashing the chord. These images are intercut with Darren’s singing features. When we hear the “oh-oh’s” we see the screen cut into sections with both Daniel and Darren singing these backing vocals.
Meanwhile in a different location we find, sitting at a chair and looking at a small TV screen, the sylph-like figure of a girl. She has a pale complexion and wears a simple work-suit / tech overalls. She is a Girl Mechanic and her Television is not functioning properly, she fiddles with the controls, turns handles attached to the side of the TV, messes with the H – style antenna. She is trying to tune into the images we see on the large screen in front of Darren and Daniel.
In the choruses Darren pulls himself free from the head constraint and leaps over to a small 6? x 6? white screen behind him where he moves and throws shapes while he sings. It seems as if this is some visual transponder because now we see the silhouette of his body movements relayed and projected onto the big screen.
By the third verse things have really loosened up. Darren and Daniel have become free of the constraints of their machinery and are rocking out – we will also shoot Darren with a mic. It seems as if the head constraint, the small screen and the mic are just part of the arsenal of methods that the band members can exploit to get up on the big screen. It seems as if the set is some vast video studio where you get to perform in front of yourself.
By now the Girl Mechanic is frantic. She is banging the top of the TV in time to the music and images of the band flicker in and out on the TV screen.
In the bridge section everything goes wild: strobes illuminate the faces of the band members, the Girl Mechanic disappears from her room and suddenly appears on the large screen in front of the band members in wildly coloured clothes, her make up is extreme and her demeanour exaggerated and full of attitude.
The track slows down and we hear the ethereal, echoey voice of the girl in the music. The camera pushes in on Darren and Daniel as their hair is buffeted by an enormous wind, they look up at the screen and see the Girl Mechanic mouthing the chant holding a microphone in her hand. She has become the voice inside the screen looking down at Darren and Daniel. We also see her face inside the screen of her own TV.
Just as suddenly we are back in the final choruses and the Girl Mechanic re-appears in her own room in her original outfit, she wonders if she really was beamed up into the large screen. She wanders back towards her TV set, now working perfectly and sits down in front of the screen with a smile on her face.
As the track dies away we look back at the large screen (and the Girl Mechanic’s TV) and see that there are now two wind-up robot creatures walking away from frame on the big screen, perhaps they are even holding hands.
© Nigel Dick 1997.
SEETHER w. AMY LEE – Broken
Overview…In a stark wasteland Seether and Amy Lee come together to perform the song. The dark and foreboding sky behind, and the burnt and charred pieces in frame creates an eerie world in which it seems Seether and Amy are the only human beings left alive. Thus their performance seems particularly heartfelt and poignant.
Video is shot with stark, elemental photography – almost black and white with just suggestions of cold blues and greens.
Details…Video opens with the camera panning across a vast and empty landscape almost lunar in its bleakness. In the distance an enormous, blinding white light explodes, a terrifying rumble can be heard, and the frame shakes as the foreground is filled with spinning debris of weeds, branches, paper, and a battered child’s toy.
Frame briefly goes to black and then, as we hear the opening bars of music, we focus on the aftermath of whatever the fuck that was. As the camera pans again we discover Amy and the band walking towards us from five different directions. Black clouds of smoke drift through frame and smouldering tree trunks and debris litters the foreground. A ragged scarecrow shape hangs forlornly against the harsh landscape.
It appears some invisible voice or signal has called Seether and Amy to this one desolate spot which features a battered building and a huge, bedraggled tree. In silhouette against the sky and the clouds of dark smoke we see the band play. Somewhere behind them the wreckage of an old windmill twists in the harsh breeze.
A high angle from the rooftop of the battered building shows us the band in stark contrast against the burnt floor of the ground. In foreground a blasted, broken wind-vane shivers as the breeze changes direction.
Close ups of the band are low and heroic. They are intent on playing their instruments and looking out across the landscape and the burning wastes. It is as if their music is a call to any other survivors to come and seek refuge here. Against the starkness of the sky the black smoke continues to burn.
We see Amy and Shaun performing in a number of situations – both with the band, and as single shots and as doubles.
Shaun sings as he dips his fingers into an oily pool of water as if testing its potability. We see his reflection in the oily blackness and his fingers dip into the reflection and disturb the image – eventually Amy joins him over his shoulder as she sings with him.
Amy moves over and sits in a battered rocking chair. As she sings she fiddles with a forlornly battered, one armed doll that she has picked from the ground and has placed in her lap.
Shaun sits on a beaten up chair under a huge tree on which ripped and tattered fabric blows in the breeze. In the distance a horse chews the grass forlornly and moves away from camera.
Water drips from an old outside tap. Amy sings while she lets the elemental waters dribble over her fingers as if this is the only succour left in this pale and lifeless land.
Amy and Shaun sing together staring at a burnt out truck. As we climb over them we see its shadow is painted on the ground from the extraordinary blast that brought them all together.
Amy sleeps in foreground on a rough bed made from timber and straw. In the background, slightly out of focus, Shaun sings. Close-ups show Amy’s lips moving as she sings her parts. It is as if this is a dream for her ? for Shaun he seems to protect her as she dreams.
Against a battered wall of the building an old confessional rests. Amy and Shaun take it in turns to sit inside the confessional and listen while the other sings their parts through the ragged wooden grating. It seems that the grating provides the emotional distance required to share their inner-most feelings in this exposed and hard place.
Finally the five musicians climb to a low rise, close to the tree, and look over the vast wastes to see what their future might hold. The camera pulls away and we see their figures in silhouette as the dark clouds of smoke swirl around us and they are finally lost from view – and we fade to black
© Nigel Dick – 2004
The location where we shot the clip required virtually no dressing. It had been a small community in the desert consisting of trailers and disused vehicles and apparently had been a meth lab.
BRITNEY SPEARS – Baby One More Time
Britney sits at her desk in her high school class. Her foot bangs against the side of her desk in slow motion, bang, bang, bang, bang. Another girl beside Britney, one of the other dancers, blows gum, equally bored. We notice that Britney and all the other students are wearing school uniforms. The teacher stands by his / her blackboard tossing his chalk up and down. The camera watches the lump of chalk tumble up into the air and then back down again. The end of class bell rings and simultaneously…
The music starts.
All the kids jump from their desks and race into the school corridor.
For the first verse and chorus Britney and pals do their performance / dance routine in the wide corridor outside the class-room. It becomes obvious that Britney is the focus of the team of dancers – she has lots of attitude, is flirtatious and provocative, and is met with respect by every other kid in the school.
In the corridor we observe moments with Britney and the other kids against their lockers. Door slamming is done in time with the music, a whole row of doors being closed simultaneously. We see portrait moments and beautifully lit close-up moments of Britney singing the song in front of the lockers.
As Britney performs another bunch of kids come down the corridor from the other direction lead by a handsome guy. They stop and watch as Britney does her routine. Britney flirts with the guy.
At the end of the first chorus, in one movement, every-one pulls brightly coloured clothes from their lockers. The array of clothes fills the screen. We track with everyone’s feet and find that they have moved to the parking lot outside the school where other kids are hanging out and a sort of impromptu after school party is taking place. We now see that everyone is no longer wearing their school uniforms. The clothing takes its leads from Britney who wears a brief tank top, sneakers and Adidas-style training pants. Again Britney and her pals continue their routine. This time Britney is flirting with another handsome guy who watches. Kids watch from their brightly coloured Jeeps / Land Rovers parked in the lot. Two guys with BMX bikes take off and spin in mid air in front of Britney while she sings.
We see portrait moments of Britney lounging in a cool open topped 4x in the lot and shoot a beautiful close up as she sings, the polished metal of the vehicle acting as a wonderful backdrop.
In the bridge section we find Britney alone for a moment, vulnerable and approachable, as she sings ?Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know….? She seems to be sitting alone on the bleachers in the school gym / basketball court.
The camera pulls wider and we find the rest of her friends lounging on the bleachers talking and hanging. Britney watches while one couple kiss. “I must confess that my loneliness is killing me now…”
We shoot portrait and close-up moments under or around the bleachers with the angles of the seats and the shadows they throw creating an eye-catching perspective for the camera.
Britney turns and is joined by the rest of her team as they continue their routine on the basketball court. This time they are performing for the school basketball team who have been practising on the court. The focus of Britney’s attention this time is one of the basketball players – another handsome hunk. It is obvious that Britney could date any of these guys she just needs to make her choice.
We get as many kids as we can afford and Britney, her team, the basketball players in costume and some extras all join in the routine for the last chorus of the song – the grand finale. It?s a big shot with scope and size.
The music stops and Britney sings the final line into camera.
At the end of the court the door swings open and the teacher appears again. Noticing Britney and the dancers she doesn’t like what she sees and reaches over and flips off the lights. The court goes dark…
© Nigel Dick 1998
The first time I’d attempted a treatment for this song I’d written something truly awful (an idea someone had suggested I’d should use sometime). Britney got on the phone and said, “Can’t we do something where I’m in a schoolroom dreaming about boys?” Um…yeah. OK. And by the way it was her idea to wear the school uniforms…
BRITNEY SPEARS – Oops I Did It Again
This video will be very different for Britney. Janet Jackson meets Metropolis meets Fellini meets Capricorn One, meets surreal! It will have a simple story-line running through it (Britney meets gorgeous space-adventurer on surface of Mars and dances her butt off) and the end result will feel warm, light-hearted, energetic. And it will feature dance, dance, dance. It will be CRAZY X2!
The camera pans past loads of technicians in a dark concrete control room, steam and wires can be seen everywhere. We happen upon a young controller sitting at a wild looking console – tubes with seeping liquid criss-cross the console area, lights flash and gleam. The controller peers into a hemispherical monitor screen (think half a goldfish bowl) (GAG #1) and listens to John the Astronaut talking to him from a far-off planet. The controller is eating a donut and drinking coffee from a paper take out mug.
Earth to Mars Lander. Report status please.
John The Astronaut
Mars Lander here. Gravity device status effective, Oxygen status 98%. Planet seems to be covered with red dust. Kind of like a day at the beach here…no sun of course, not many babes either.
We see scanner footage of John the Astronaut?s feet kicking through dust as he walks across the planet’s surface. (The scanner is a small video camera attached to his helmet, a white snowy line wipes continuously across the screen as the signal comes in.)
Any sign of habitation?
John The Astronaut
Nope. Not so much as a…woah there horsey. What the…
We cut to a view of John The Astronaut?s foot which has disturbed something in the red dust… We cut full frame to the planet as John The Astronaut?s hand pulls a cracked tile from the dust which has an image of Britney fused into it.
Cute. What is it?
John The Astronaut
Oh it?s cute allright…(to himself) It couldn?t be…
The planet’s surface suddenly starts to shake. (GAG #3) The camera hurtles up to John The Astronaut’s face as he reacts to the Mars-shake. Back on Earth the controllers screen starts to crack up – the signal starts cutting out.
Mars Lander what?s happening up there? Can you hear me?
John The Astronaut
(voice cutting in and out of static)
….amazing…city…can?t believe…buildings… incredible…
We cut to John The Astronaut’s face as the shaking continues. We hear a distant laugh – a distorted, processed version of Britney giggling.
The quake comes to a stop. John The Astronaut’s voice is full of wonderment.
John The Astronaut
(voice cutting in and out of static)
The camera moves around him and hurtles back over his shoulder (GAG #4) …we find that the quake has revealed a huge plaza on Mars – and John The Astronaut is just a speck in the middle of it!
THE MUSIC STARTS…
…everything is built in tones of red and carved out of the living Mars rock. John The Astronaut is dwarfed by the location. The architecture of this place is just incredible.
The distinctive Max Martin keyboard figure heightens the drama. We hear Britney’s subtle moan underneath and cut to where we sense her peeking through a thick red-tinged lace curtain watching John The Astronaut alone below her in the Plaza.
John The Astronaut looks around – he knows something is up. Chains unfurl from the ceiling, ladders descend slowly from the ceiling.
A huge woosh of air, cued with the sound effect in the track, nearly knocks John The Astronaut off his feet. (GAG #4A) The track kicks in big time and John The Astronaut looks up to see four buff male figures that have suddenly appeared high up in the structure. The four figures pump handles of some large and indescribable machine which puffs out red steam and seems to provide the plaza with energy. As they pump an incredible cage descends from the ceiling which contains the intoxicating shape of beautiful young woman with her back turned to us in an amazing red jump suit. (GAG# 5) The whole image is set off by a shock of blond hair. As the cage reaches the ground the figure turns – It’s Britney.
What an entrance!
“I think I did it again / I made you believe we’re more than just friends…” Britney leaps out in front of John the Astronaut…Suddenly the whole set comes to life. There are Martian dancers appearing from everywhere sliding down the chains, and flying down on ropes to join Britney in front of John The Astronaut. But Britney is front and centre.
Britney looks amazing as she dances and sings with her full team. Behind her the hunks continue to pump on their levers. Britney continues to sing and dance with people doing flips behind her, as the camera pans pulls back from Britney we see there are dancers dancing away in foreground.
Britney approaches John The Astronaut and, in a Matrix-style move, flies over him , grabs a chain hanging down from the ceiling and attaches a hook at the end of the chain to the back of John The Astronaut’s suit. High above her the four hunks pull on ropes and John flies up into the ceiling. (GAG #6)
We cut and find Britney spread out on a surreal, Mars-style sun bed. The camera descends from high as she looks up and sings for John the Astronaut hanging forlornly above. (GAG #7). Around the sun-bed the other dancers are spread out like writhing tendrils of the sun – it is a gorgeous visual image.
Britney leaps off the sun bed, runs and starts a flip like the one she did in Baby One More Time. As she spins we cut to a shot of Britney spinning and flying shot against blue screen before she lands in the middle of the plaza. (GAG # 8). (We drop Mars plaza landscape in behind her in the blue screen).
As Britney lands John The Astronaut has been lowered down once again. Britney rips his helmet off and we see he is a gorgeous young man. For a second his head expands to double size (video effect) before contracting and as he panics and gasps for air he suddenly realizes he can breathe and there’s nothing to worry about. (GAG #9). Britney smiles at John and John takes her hand and smiles back. We see an angle on Britney and John The Astronaut which shows the earth and moon high over their shoulders (video post effect).
We cut back to Mission Control as the music slows down. The controller leans in to a microphone on his table into which he speaks:
From the controller’s POV we see the dialogue take place between Britney and John The Astronaut as John places a gift in Britney’s hand.
John The Astronaut
Britney, before you go there’s something I want you to have.
Britney looks down at the gift in her hand.
Oh, it’s beautiful. But wait a minute isn’t this?
John The Astronaut
Yeah, yes it is!
But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end?
John The Astronaut
Well baby I went down and got it for ya!
Aw you shouldn?t have!
John The Astronaut walks away leaving Britney and her dancers in the Mars Plaza. As the music kicks in she starts to dance again. Now we are in a full blown dance spectacle. The guys heaving on their levers above, Britney and the dancers in the plaza beneath, people breathing fire.
Finally Britney steps back into her cage. She looks wistfully into the sky and sees a streak of fire traveling across the sky as John the Astronaut leaves Mars orbit. She clutches at the gift in her hand and looks skywards… “I’m not that innocent.”
Her cage lifts skywards surrounded by steam. (GAG #10).
© Nigel Dick, 2000
A note from your sponsor…Before writing this concept I had a word with Britney. She said, “I want a video with a cute spaceman set on Mars but with no rocket ships.” I replied, “But isn’t the dialogue in the m middle something to do with ‘Titanic’?” Britney replied, “Don’t worry, you’ll make it work.” The GAG#’s refer to the visual effects we had planned in pre-production. Each GAG had it’s own set of storyboards and notes as to how we would execute the effect.
STAIND – For You
overview…Ever had that feeling that Mom & Dad don’t know who the f*ck you are? Ever been in the car with them and feel like you could scream because they are suffocating you with their silence? If so this treatment is dedicated to you. We shoot the band in an intense performance situation. This footage will be intercut with a concept involving a teen and his parents. Every time we see the teen he is a screaming, frustrated youth driven to distraction by his parents. Whenever his parents look at him they only see a quiet, normally resentful teen listening to his Discman. The cuts of the band and conceptual footage are brief, disjointed and shocking and marry perfectly with the unsettling tone and beats of the song.
music starts…in the driveway of a house in a slightly run down neighbourhood. We find Steven, 17 matted hair, double T-shirt etc. sitting forlornly in the back of a tired ?77 Buick Le Sabre wagon. He’s slumped in the back seat so that only part of his face is visible from the outside – though he’s wearing his headphones he’s about to endure a fate more painful and torturous than the star performer of a Taliban hit squad could devise: a journey in the car with Mom and Dad. A jolt and the car is on it’s way. With views reminiscent of the Sopranos title sequence we see Mom, Dad & Steven driving through their urban hinterland: a never ending succession of gas stations, mini-malls, breakers yards etc. Dad is overweight and scratches the bald patch underneath the plastic see-through mesh of his well worn International Harvester cap. Mom flips through the National Enquirer as she flicks the cigarette ash from her brown K-Mart slacks. Whenever they glance into the back seat Steven nods his head gently as he stares out of the window and fiddles with the controls on his Discman.
first verse and chorus… “To my mother, to my father…” With a sudden jump-cut (editorial combined post-effect) Steven is a possessed, caged animal in the back seat of the car. He’s yelling the lyrics to the backs of Mom and Dad’s heads. “It’s your son, it’s your daughter…Are my screams loud enough for you to hear me?” Steven could not be more aggressive in his manner or his questioning… But when Mom looks casually over her shoulder all she sees is Steven leaning against the window looking outside while the music plays. The teen Mom and Dad see is a Ritalin/Prozac child. The teen we see is the frustrated kid in all of us – misunderstood, unheard, ignored. We intercut with furious footage of the band. Aaron grips his mic stand so hard it seems the steel will melt, Mike and Johnny flail at their guitars and Jon pounds his kit. We notice water damaged corkboard behind them, musty carpet at their feet. It seems that the cool afternoon glow of an autumn sun is falling on them through a large dusty window. The energy of the camera moves reflects the furious rage bottled up in the music. “I sit here locked inside my head…” In the back seat of the wagon Steven is grabbing at the cheap plastic ceiling of the car interior trying express his rage. Mom and Dad are oblivious. “The silence gets us nowhere…” Dad looks at Steven in the rear view all he sees is part of a resentful figure pressed into the corner. A furtive close-up reveals Steven’s gritted teeth: “gets us nowhere way too fast…”
We continue to intercut band and concept footage throughout the video.
second verse & chorus…Dad has pulled off the road and parked at a fast food joint/ truck stop / gas station location. Steven sits quietly at the table while Mom looks absently out of the window. Dad is in line waiting for a tray of burgers and sodas. Steven, still wearing the headphones, stares intently at Mom and sings through gritted teeth: “the silence is what kills me, I need someone to help me.” At a table nearby another teen, Shelby, looks over and sees Steven yelling at his Mom: “but you don’t know how to listen…” Shelby’s parents look up to see what she is staring at. All they can see is a morose Steven slumped in a chair with a Discman facing his Mom who stares out of the window. Shelby’s parents return to their burgers and fries. Shelby identifies instantly with what is going down: “but you don’t know how to listen…and let me make my decisions.” Dad returns with lunch and sits next to Mom. Other kids in the diner see Steven screaming the chorus at his Mom and Dad. Other parents see only another family bent under the strain of paying the rent and trying to keep up with the demands of increasingly alienated teens. “The silence gets us nowhere…”
bridge…the music descends instantly to Mike’s chugging guitar figure. Steven leans in towards his oblivious parents: “All your insults…” Throughout the diner all the other Stevens and Shelbys have picked up the vibe. Each one leans into remonstrate at their oblivious parents their anger finding a channel at last: “and your curses make me feel like I’m not a person…” Slam! On the band’s crunching chords the teens throughout the diner slam on the tables. Fries, sodas, burgers leap in the air. Parents pay no attention as every kid in the room rises to their feet and points to their parents: “You made me do something, because I’m fucked up, because you are…” It’s outrageous – the Midwych Cuckoos are wreaking their revenge…
third chorus…all the kids are sitting again but still yelling out at their parents: “I sit here locked inside my head…” From the parents’ point of view the diner is filled with Ritalin kids, though closer examination shows Steven and Shelby exchanging a conspiratorial glance.
fourth chorus…Dad is paying the check, Mom is leaving the diner and outside Steven has wandered over to a vacated car showroom on one side of the parking lot. He looks in through the window and sees Staind performing…Aaron looks at him and his breath clouds the glass for a moment: “this silence gets us nowhere, gets us nowhere way too fast…” Over his shoulder the Le Sabre pulls into frame and dad honks his horn. Mom and Dad’s POV shows Steven peering in through the empty
windows of the car showroom with tired FOR RENT posters stuck to the glass. (There is NO BAND INSIDE – they have been, of course, entirely a figment of Steven’s imagination).
Over the final bars we watch Steven slouch his way back to the car and his further imprisonment. He slams the door on the final guitar crunch. We focus on Steven’s face partly hidden as he slumps back in the seat and is driven back to the freeway by Mom and Dad.
© Nigel Dick 2001
I was shooting a Backstreet Boys video when Staind’s manager Gail, also looking after BSB, asked me if I could come up with a treatment for this track by first thing the following morning. It took me 45 minutes to come up with the idea and type it out. It’s also one of my favourite all time videos. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.