introducing: the WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER DVD.
the WKAP DVD is just about ready for ordering.
i’m going to spit forth a series of blogs in which i chronicle the makings-of the various videos that you can see in full glory on this brand-spanking-new product of mine.
beth and i are also going to run a special webcast from somewhere in london on september 10th at around 11pm local/london-time. if you want to know what time that will be for you, check this site out (or this more accessible version here). ANYWAY, we’ll be doing this thing, and if you want to get the DVD signed and delivered, you can buy it live online and i will om nom it and sign it for you.
you’ll also be able to buy it at either of the london shows.
if you’re wondering why you should buy it (because….can’t you see all this shit on youtube?) i will give two several reasons.
1) no, you can’t see all this shit on youtube, at least not yet.
there are interviews and clips that have not yet gotten youtube’d.
and also, youtube quality blows (or at least did when we uploaded this stuff last year). if you want to see the full majesty of the videos we created, buy the plastic that you can put in your machine and crank.
the extra shit is really good. michael pope and i and chip yamada (the director of the two live video clips we made with the danger ensemble, plus the extra “blake says” video) spent a SHITLOAD of time adding extra interviews and footage and getting this thing just right. this ain’t no bullshit DVD. we are very proud of it.
2) i need the money. the greedy fucks at the label will still not drop me.
on that note: a word about BUYING THE DVD, if you are the sort that cares:
do not buy the DVD in a store.
do not order the DVD from amazon.
do not order the DVD from ANYWHERE online except links i post here/on twitter
i repeat: buy the DVD during the webcast next week or buy the DVD from my website when it goes up (we’ll let you know) OR buy the DVD from my merch table at shows. i’ll be selling it at at all of the upcoming shows, including london, and i will happily sign it for you.)
if you buy the DVD in a store or from amazon, the label will keep all of the money. even thought they have done nothing to promote it. they suck.
if you buy it from the webcast or at the merch booth or from my webstore, i will at least see some of the profit, since i will have ordered it from the label at cost.
and by the way, fuck them up the bum with a sand-papery dildo.
now…let’s go to our happy place!!!!
for the next week or so, i’m going to talk about these videos and their sordid and exciting back stories therein, in this order:
1. intro (another year)
4. runs in the family
5. the point of it all
6. strength through music
7. guitar hero
8. another year (credits)
10. leeds united
11. blake says (live with the danger ensemble)
12. blake says (ninja video in salt lake)
13. have to drive (live with the danger ensemble)
14. what’s the use of wonderin’
15. everybody’s gotta live (epilogue) – note: this one isn’t on the DVD. it’s youtube only b/c of music rights issues since it’s a cover.
but i’ll tell you all about it anyway because it was really fun to make.
BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION to this here DVD
“HOW I MET MICHAEL POPE & HOW WE CAME TO BE THE LO-BUDGET MUSIC VIDEO POWERHOUSE THAT WE IZ”
i really like working with michael pope.
probably because i really like michael pope.
mostly i like working with michael pope because, when he makes a video, he cares more about the art part and making people happy than anything else (like, oh, success, money and fame).
in this, we are brother and sister.
pope (who directed the vast majority of videos on this DVD) and i have been working for years. we now speak the same language…the language of amanda-pope we-gots-no-money-but-shitloads-of-ideas.
lots of the boston and nyc-area dolls fans have met him a shows, many met him when we were filming the “paradise” DVD and many boston folks have probably gotten drunk with him. if you have, you can die happy!
nobody should die without first getting drunk with michael pope. he is the kind of director that most actors or bands fantasize about.
he takes charge of a situation and can electrify a room full of people to work way beyond their maxiumum potential just because his wit and passion and attitude is contagious.
there is a reason that he managed to make a 2 hour silent film with no followable plot and involving lots of half-naked bodypainted people and find funding and volunteers to be in the damn thing for the better part of FIVE FUCKING YEARS. he is simply unstoppable. i know this first-hand. this was how i met pope, i was sucked into his vortex immediately.
it was 2000 and i was at a weird benefit event in boston called “artrages”, in a huge dark industrial wooden loft space put on by mobius, a super experimental umbrella group with their own little space in boston.
(they’re still around and have since managed to find a beautiful space in boston not far from my house. yay guys!). the benefit was basically a perfomace-art free-for all with artists in different spaces and stalls doing crazy shit.
there was a bunch of sand in one room, there were a bunch of hanging paper-mache pig corpses in another and there was a girl who had piled about 35 televisions into a giant mountain and was wearing a betty crocker dress and wig and icing all of the televisions, smiling widely as doris day played through a speaker, with pastel frosting out of a giant tub over the course of the night. you get the idea.
what was AFP doing at this benefit? i will tell you.
i was dressed as my street performance/living statue character, the eight foot bride, but i was working in collaboration with my friend e. stephen frederick of Empire S.NA.F.U.,
who added his own little touches to the installation. as i stood on my giant lacy box, painted white in full bridal gown and veil, standing stock still, he had rigged a set of pulleys that attached to the ceiling and was bobbing two objects on either side of me, so it looked like i was juggling them. one object was a giant box, about one cubic foot, made entirely of wooden rat traps.
the other object was a giant cow thigh bone. it looked lovely.
somewhere at home, i have a picture. i wish i had it here. i would post it and this blog would not look so text-heavy. plus you could see how fucking weird it looked.
whatever, i love tangents. and old pictures.
here, instead, is a picture of me that i recently found of me that same year, in a corset and gloves made by mr. e. stephen.
i’m on scaffolding stilts working in an awful shit techno club in providence rhode island.
somtimes i miss my old life.
anyway. that night, after i got tired of standing on a box and juggling pest control devices and half-gnawed animal parts, i wandered around. there was a huge timed performance that michael pope (who i hadn’t met) had directed, it was a scene with the cast of neovoxer, the film he was currently working on. it involved a woman wearing a dress about 30 feet long walking through the space, an orchestra playing some
bizare music, and a bunch of people doing a strange japanese marital art. screaming. but damned if it didn’t work and feel like real fucking art. i was impressed.
so at one point (i’ve forgotten about this, but pope swears it’s true) pope and i see each other across this huge room and lock eyes. we maintain eye contact and walk towards each other and kiss on the mouth.
when this happens to some people, they get married. when it happens to others, they become housemates and start making lo-budget music videos together. for me and michael pope, it was the latter.
the first thing i did, later that week, was act in his movie. it involved lots of painted people, lots of cold, lots of art, and lots of HOLY FUCK, THESE ARE THE PEOPLE I WANT TO BE LIKE AND THE PEOPLE I WANT TO WORK WITH AND THE PEOPLE I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR ALL MY LIFE, AAAAAAAGH. (BTW, the neovoxer website)
pope moved into the cloudclub, started sleeping on the top floor.
we made our first video, for “girl anachronism”, with borrowed money, long before the band was signed.
we made the video in my house. it’s off youtube thanks to the greedy fucks over there, but you can still see it HERE on the dolls site. maybe one of these days we can get it elsewhere. anyway, ONWARD…
that video, made for 5k in my kitchen and backyard, actually got us signed, according to our old A&R guy at roadrunner.
he played it in a meeting and the owner was blown away and wanted to pick up the band.
it also landed us our opening slot with NIN. trent saw it, his jaw dropped, and he emailed us asking if we’d open for him.
there you have it.
then we signed. “girl anachronism” was sent to MTV and got some airplay. this was before the days of youtube, when it was hard to actually circulate videos online…
they simply lived on your website and you had to pay for the bandwidth.
all of a sudden we had video budgets. the label decided we should make a video for “coin-operated boy”, and we did. we recorded a new record (“yes, virginia”) and made a video for what was supposed to be the first single (“sing”).
(*we were also supposed to make a video for “backstabber”, but the greedy fucks at the label pulled the budget at the very last minute when they decided that “yes, virginia” wasn’t commercial enough. this is why we made the infamous “panic at the disco vs. the dresden dolls” video with “backstabber” as the background music, with our own money, because we were pissed. by “night reconnaissance”, the last video the dolls made, we’d learned our lesson and were keeping thigs simple. i like that video alot. sadly it is also not on youtube but you can see it HERE).
i wasn’t extraordinarily happy with the way those two dresden dolls videos (“coin-operated boy” and “sing”) had turned out, and neither was pope.
they were ok, but they lacked a certain je ne sais thing.
after the fact, pope and i agreed that the concepts and ideas were too overbearing for the 4-minute music video format.
we were simply trying to cram in too much art and information with too little budget and we were shooting ourselves in the artistic feet, and moreover we were missing what the essence of a music video should do. we’d caught it in “girl anachronism” and it was now obvious: lo-budget music videos – as far as amanda palmer was concerned – should involve simple caught performance and extreme rocking out.
we thought about what to do for my solo record.
initially, i’d had this weird concept that the whole series of videos would be all live takes of me playing a piano in fucked up places.
amanda plays ampersand on a grassy highway divider while traffic goes by at high speeds.
amanda plays guitar hero on the top of a building in the snow.
amanda plays point of it all in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night in the middle of a dream.
but as it was we realized that hauling a piano around to a bunch of weird places would actually cost us way more money and time and manpower than we had.
so we scaled back.
we decided, fundamentally, that the videos would be very simple and that our focus would be Me Playing & Being.
not a bunch of plot-driven concepts. (ironically, the one really plot-driven video, “the point of it all”, did somehow manage to sort of get fucked up, but i attribute that more to the fact that we were shooting it at the end of a long night and it was 100 degrees in the room we were shooting in).
making videos can be “fun”, but it’s usually not Fun. making videos is a lot of sitting around, a lot of technical futzing, a lot of pressure in very short spurts of time, a lot of guessing and a lot of patience.
if your director is not Fun, you will be in Hell. your director has to be the type of person who can convince a room of people who are not actually having Fun that they are indeed having Fun, albeit a kind of theoretical Art Fun, you are set. and michael pope can do that. this is why i keep working with him.
the first batch of pope videos (ampersand, runs in the family, astronaut, guitar hero, point of it all, strength through music) were filmed in about 6 days in and around boston at the rate of about a video a day (sometimes we shot several videos in one day – i think “strength” and “guitar hero”). it was the height of summer, 2008, and frankly i can’t remember much about anything. all i remember is that things were going very fast, we were coming up with ideas very fast, we had very little money, and the goal was to enjoy ourselves. i’d had it with stressing out about music videos.
i remember that on the set of “sing” i was so fucking WORRIED about everything that my neck went out, untouched. it just went into extreme spasm. if you look at the shots in the sing video
where brian and i are playing in the theater, you will notice that i look sort of odd. that is because i couldn’t move my head. i didn’t want to be that person anymore. and in fact, i am not.
i’d also learned something about simply letting go and letting the videos be what they wanted to be instead of trying to make them look the way they were in my head.
if you are ever making a video, or a film for that matter, but especially a low-budget video, i warn you against falling prey to the “but it’s not like i imagined it” syndrome.
this actually applies to any and all art. it will be one way in your head. then it will look different on the canvas. you deal, you adjust, you change your head-picture, you adjust.
the ability to deal is the talent, not the perfection in your head. nobody will ever see the perfection in your head. sorry.
this is why some artists kill themselves.
so, the video that i imagined in my head for “coin-operated boy” would have cost about $500,000 and even then it would not have looked right.
as it was, i think we had about 20k for that video.
these “who killed amanda palmer” videos were all made for a few grand each.
pope’s right-hand girl, bri olson, did all the running-around, arranging, collecting, logistics and producing. she was incredible.
my incredible assistant beth was on hand for lots of the videos, taking stills and making sure things were running smoothly.
they barely got paid.
take note: there is a theme here.
we had no money for costumes. if anybody’s wearing it, it came out of my closet.
we paid the fabulous @artdesi, my hairdresser, way less than he deserved to come do hair and make-up for most of the videos, but some days i just did the shit myself.
he’s also a fantasitc photographer and took a bunch of great stills (one of them ended up being the cover of the DVD).
we hired a small crew of 3-4 guys to run cameras and do lights, and they all took massively huge paycuts because they like working with us.
we spent no money on props (when they became essential, as with the guitars in “guitar hero”, i threw down the money and then auctioned the guitars on the road to try to
make the money back.)
we spent no money on locations. all of the locations of the videos (my house, my parents house, my old high school, the steinway building, etc.) were free.
a few months later we made a separate video for “oasis” and stuck with basically the same crew and lo-budget concept. we borrowed our friend jakob lodwick’s loft in new york for shooting.
the video for “leeds united” was the only high-budget video and it was not made by pope, it was made by alex de campi in london. that one will be a long story.
the video for “what’s the use of wondrin” was made long after everything, and was originally supposed to star annie clark, who sang on the tune, but things got odd.
more on that later. once again, we had no budget (i think we may have even paid for that one out of pocket) and we borrowed a loft in new york city belonging to my friend paige stevenston.
if any of you were at the little new years gathering before the bowery show…THAT loft.
the live videos were made by chip yamada, who was trailing around with me and the danger ensemble as we toured in the states in the fall.
“have to drive” and “blake says” were videos that pope and i has decided not to do and, coincidentally & luckily, two songs that the danger ensemble had choreographed bits to.
so we decided to try to capture that wonderfulness for the DVD.
while we were at it, we made a fun little in-the-snow video for “blake says” one day while we were killing time on a freezing snowy day in salt lake city.
i’ll talk more about all of that, and about chip, when i do those blogs.
the DVD also includes a long interview with me on a very WTF???? tour day in late fall, staring at an ugly expansive network of washington shopping malls and considering the nature of existence (don’t worry, it’s not a wanky as it sounds) and an interview with me & pope about the process.
and there you have it.
12 songs, 13 videos, 2 interviews, a bunch of little tour footage bitses, and one very happy little DVD what amanda fucking palmer hopes you will buy from her webchat/merch booth/website.
hang onto your seats.
i love you.
thank you for reading this. it was long. now stay tuned…