We wanted to introduce ourselves, to set the tone, to make a good first impression. We wanted you to “Like” us. So we set Aaron’s dining room on fire.
Okay, so we set the wicks of about 60 candles that aren’t a regular fixture in Aaron’s dining experience on fire. Hyperbole, yes. But hyperbole in defiance of a dull introduction. I’m reminded of another risk-taking dissident named Maximus Decimus Meridius, as seen in 2000’s “Gladiator,” and his line, “Are you not entertained?” He, too, was a performer who went through great lengths to be liked. In any case, I hope we’re not off to a bad start.
Speaking of Academy Award-winning films for Best Costume Design, I should probably disclose that our candle-lighting idea was inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” which may very well still hold the record for utilizing the lowest relative aperture in film history (Kubrick used an f/.7 lens, ours was an f/1.8). We found natural lighting to be the perfect visual complement to “I’ll Be Free.” The song’s melancholic, faux-brass underpinnings, which resonate with “Taps,” combined with its harmonious dying words, “Save yourself/Leave me be/I’ll be fine/I’ll be free,” required a funereal atmosphere. The skull centerpiece, black backdrop, empty bottles, and stationary camera were implemented to symbolically reinforce the deathly mood.
But before I further delve into the intentionality of our video, I should make a confession: Our budget or lack thereof informed most of our artistic decisions. It’s the reason we dined on cold spaghetti and warm beer. It’s the reason there’s a polka-dotted sock in Aaron’s pocket. And it’s the reason we melted down a 50 pack of tealights. In other words, had we the money, “I’ll Be Free” would’ve been shot on the back of an elephant. That being said, performance art pieces accented by agonizingly drawn-out shots, especially when the subjects aren’t doing anything particularly interesting, have always been a motif in our creative discussions. Maybe it’s because we’re poor.
Eating seems to be another motif:
Of course, the real reason I’ve involved the video above is to give you a sense of what Aaron’s dining room looked like before we made our sepulchral modifications. Both videos were shot with a Canon 7D from about the same position.
Overall, “I’ll Be Free” cost us about $150 to make, but only because of poor planning. The spaghetti, beer, multi-colored peppers, spinach, and tomatoes cost us about $40. The tealights took us for another $10. The two fat candles near the middle of the table were close to $60. (Yeah, I know, like I said, poor planning. We very easily could’ve ordered them online for much less.)
Everything else featured in the video we had lying around: The black backdrop is actually two faded black sheets, the table cloth is disposable paper, the bottles were in Aaron’s “recycling room” (in fact, two of the bottles had provided us with spaghetti sauce not more than an hour before shooting), the deer skull was found and treated by Josh, and most of the other fancy accoutrements belong to Josh’s Collection of Wonderful Things.
The video itself was achieved after two practice runs and a botched “Okay, for real this time.” I’m pleased to report that none of our garments caught fire. Cheers.