The Story Behind The Scenes
Original posting date: April 8th 2007
In my fourth year of Psychology, I did a few video projects (the “Psych 4”) where I really wanted to showcase how you can get brain damage. It was a pretty basic idea really; demonstrate a bunch of ways to get brain damage in a silly but somewhat accurate way.
The concept pretty much fell into place right there: a 50’s style educational film (although I’ve also been told it resembles Red Green’s documentary skits…let me say right now that I never watched Red Green, and any resemblence is coincidental).
I had no script, just my little notebook with some scenes I wanted to show, and a list of ways to bugger up your head. I explained to Daniel that I needed someone who could pull off a dumb kid, and he and I started talking about things we’d like to do.
Basically, I showed up at my mom’s place and recruited Nate and Dan. It was fairly easy, and we shot in chronological order. I specifically designed the line “I wish I had some friends” for Billy at the beginning, as an in-joke for Daniel’s lack of a social life at the time.
The “keys in the electrical socket” gag is based on true events. When Dan was a kid, he put some keys into a socket and got a few sparks. Now…some kids will do this, get a shock, and learn their lesson.
Daniel did it again a few days later. This time with tweezers.
We came outside and filmed the physical scenes with Nate. Nate needed no encouragement to get into these scenes. We were very careful about the boxing scene, but sadly at one point, Dan’s head goes the opposite way from what you’d expect. We got a shot of Daniel and I doing a cheesy close. I was really happy with the footage, and I can safely say most of the work was in editing.
The first thing I felt I needed was an organization you would believe did educational videos. I looked up from my table where I had the iMac set up, and saw my decorative Phantom head hanging on the wall. That looked kinda spiffy…a really bad still shot of that set to “Lenin’s Favourite Song” (from the beginning of “Daddy’s Going To Pay For Your Crashed Car” by U2), and I stuck in the name: The National Super Heroes Guild. Little did I know it wouldn’t end there.
Rendering can take a while, and the narration reflects how late at night it was getting. I made two pretty silly mistakes. The first was the change of Gringor’s name to Gringol within a minute. The second was while Gringor was strangling Billy…I say “atoxia” is the power word. Oops…that would be “anoxia”. You probably don’t care, but I was submitting this for marks!
A word about the music…I had a hell of a time finding what would serve as goofy background music. Doug recommended Architecture In Helsinki, and sent me this song “Rendezvous: Potrero Hill”. PERFECT. I looped it and it was a staple for our educational videos from then on. The end song may sound familiar to some of you, it’s called “New Direction” and it’s the last track on Sugar Ray’s 14:59 and is essentially a little recap of their big hit “Every Morning”.
Rendering took a long time though. This piece alone took me well over an hour and a half, and most of it was waiting. I assured myself that I had been through the hump of work, and could still catch some sleep before class.
The class seemed to be quite receptive to it. I remember laughs in particular when Billy slips some LSD (or E?) under his tongue, and the fake “BAMMO!” when Gringor whacks Billy over the head.
One classmate shook his head and told me “Your neighbours must have wondered what was going on.”
I winced at the “atoxia” slip, but on the whole the laughs were coming, so I was pretty happy.
As for my family…my mom was aghast that we hadn’t cleaned up, so if you look at those early scenes, you’ll see clutter galore, like out of mom’s nightmares. Daniel and I had such a good time, that we decided it shouldn’t end there.