I’ve been a fan of They Might Be Giants ever since I first heard them back in 1986. Not only have they always impressed me with their expansive musical range and lyrical smarts, but also with their desire to take creative chances combined with a tireless work ethic. Creativity AND productivity! Hooray!
A great example of all of the above has to be their classic Dial-a-Song concept. This was a service that allowed fans to call the TMBG answering machine in Brooklyn and hear full-yet-unreleased songs, in-progress fragments that later BECAME full songs, and loads of other musical ideas which (often by design) never really evolved past their answering machine origins.
So why am I yammering on about all of this? Because after allowing the concept to lay dormant for a while, They Might Be Giants have decided to reinvent their Dial-A-Song service as a weekly series of brand new tunes, complete with accompanying music videos. And how stoked was I when John Flansburgh actually contacted me about DIRECTING a pair of those videos for them? Yes! Exactly! Like Off-The-Scale stoked!
(This feels like a good place to pause and mention that the secret hero of this story has to be [worldwide sensation] Alex Italics. Not only has he ALREADY directed an excellent trio of videos for TMBG over the last year or so, but he’s also the guy who hipped John Flansburgh to my work in the first place. Thanks Alex!)
So with that backstory in place, here’s a bit of the shorthand scoop regarding “Daylight”:
Now while the plot of the video itself was intentionally designed to be somewhat left open to interpretation, I will mention that it’s a moody little number which stars Jared McKinley of Territory Magazine (et al) fame. In fact it stars him twice! Thanks Jared! (And thanks too to Katy, SirLoin and JellyCat, all of whom helped make super valuable contributions to the final. SUPER VALUABLE!)
My workflow and process behind “Daylight” was a pretty straightforward affair. After the pitch, narrative arc and storyboard components were nailed down and agreed upon with Mr. Flansburgh, I went over to the location to meet up with Jared and do the set dress (as you may have guessed, Jared and Katy don’t actually live in such grim squalor). The entire video was designed to take place within the semi-sickly and flickering glow of (various forms of) artificial light, and we shot the majority of what became the final footage in a single night.
Because of the hard and fast Dial-A-Song schedule, the timeline for the video’s debut was tight, which meant that the next two days involved a marathon of work required to complete the remaining piece and still allow for any edits, tweaks and changes. First off, two followup sequences (those being the bathtub scene that leads into the bridge, and the bridge itself) were shot and the assembly edit was constructed. With all of the footage in place I then worked up a final smattering of post-production trickery (some of those effects should be obvious, and a few shouldn’t); finally wrapping everything up in a color-corrected bow for delivery.
And THAT’S what the daylight brought.