After discovering the music of The Polyphonic Spree in late 2012, I made the ambition to create a music video for their first album in 6 years. After emailing the band’s manager, Chris Penn, I was able to get an advance copy of the album, some 8 months ahead of the public release. After selecting a song, the creation of the music video took 6 months of self-financed and independent production.
The Australian comedy duo The Umbilical Brothers were a treat to have on set. Their brand of physical comedy (as seen in their worldwide tours, and children’s programme ‘The Upside-Down Show’) melded well with a satirical takedown of trendy ‘one-take’ music videos, specifically the fantastic clip for OK Go’s ‘This Too Shall Pass’. I love it, but I’ve always been interested in what happens on the failed attempts at a video of that style. They brought with them professionalism, and all of the original puppets they’ve used in their 20-year career. They were on board with the crazy idea I had, and helped create the physical routine you see in the video.
The production of the video itself was a gargantuan effort, involving a warehouse rental, practical effects, 17-hour work days, nearly 700 square meters of black plastic, and over 600 table tennis balls. Luckily, we were helped out with friends and family donating objects, and nearly 20 people helping out on the shoot day.
My producer Kara Schlegl co-ordinated with construction genius Patrick Gallagher to construct all of the gags/devices, in just five days. The cinematography by Jack Crombie (assisted by David May) involved a total of 12 continuous takes, split over two warehouse rooms. The Umbilical Brothers themselves are actual collaborative geniuses, used the music to help designate where gags should be located within the warehouse.
Although it was a physically and mentally demanding shoot, we rallied together and produced something that can sit alongside the other fantastic endeavours of both The Polyphonic Spree and The Umbilical Brothers. And for it to premiere on NPR’s ‘All Songs Considered’ was incredible, for a journey that started with an Australian director in his bedroom.
In 2013, the video won ‘Best Video’ at the Dallas Observer Music Awards.
Here is a behind the scenes look at how we did it: