When Paul McCartney calls you it feels like you’re dreaming- like an angel sent directly from God is somehow calling you. It’s an out-of-body magical experience.
Paul was set to start his latest world tour when he called to ask if I would direct the kick-off concert. It was supposed to be a normal gig. But somehow over the course of a few months we created a surreal movie experience that feels less like a concert film and more like a magic show.
You see, after the concert, we started calling each other back and forth. Our conversations would often turn existential. We would talk about who we are as human beings, what we are doing on this rock in space, and I asked him many questions about life itself. He very graciously allowed me to start recording these phone calls. And so I started collecting his beautiful perspective on life and some of the many lessons that he’s learned along the way. His vulnerability surprised me and his words have since given me hope whenever I get down.
We’re putting the finishing touches on it now and I can’t wait to share this piece of magic with you. It’s sure to be a ray of light at a time when we so desperately need it.
We’re living in a crazy time. One where we spend more time with our robot machines (our phones) than with real human beings. We’re also living in a time when the female perspective needs desperately to break through. And so enter Samantha Jayne: a rocket ship of emotion and talent. She’s a truth seeker. On a truth mission. And she’s fearless and real and exactly what the world needs right now.
We started working together on this project many years ago. It started when she wrote a book of poems about being a young woman living in this time. We made four quick and fun videos to promote that book (you can see those here). A couple years later Samantha wrote 9 new poems that we premiered at The Sundance Film Festival this past January and that will play on FX Networks this Fall.
I'm sure you've experienced this: you share an idea with someone, and as you explain it, you can see their face wash over with "no's". Their mind is consumed by every possible logistical, technical, and empirical fear they can think of... and those "what if" thoughts kill the idea. Well, I am happy to say that Justin is one of the few people whose mind doesn't operate that way. He craves the unexpected. The challenging. The unreasonable. Because he knows that's the only way to make interesting and exciting work.
Justin is a true artist. He is fearless. And he works tirelessly. He is what happens when artistry and courage meet.
And so we set sail on this crazy adventure with Chris Stapleton on board (whose soul is truly as sweet as his voice). And after two weeks of meticulous planning, it all came down to this one take.
Fame is a strange, messy thing.
Why is it that the more people interested in a person, the more interesting they become? Seriously, why? Why does our self-worth often rely on how others see us?
Meet Dan Miller.
I don’t know if there was a more exciting band to watch during the height of the indie scene than Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. They were so good, so emotional, so hippie, so rock and roll, there were so many of them!! On our first meeting we rolled a piano onto a street after one of their shows. It was one of those rare instances where I was actually aware that I was having one of the best nights of my life as I was living it (you can watch flashes of that night here).
Months later, Edward Sharpe’s manager called me to say that the band wanted to give one lucky fan an unusual gift: a personal concert in their home for just them and their friends.
What happened next felt like a dream. They were so giving. They were so fucking alive. It was another cosmic night with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
It was the middle of the recession and the company I worked for was struggling to put together a holiday party. They mentioned in a corporate weekly meeting that if you aren't “in a pretty serious relationship with a person, could you please not bring them?”
So I get to this party and as soon as I walk in the door— I see her.
Who is she?
I finally find her and she’s in a “pretty serious relationship” with someone I work with?!
Straight to the bar. Nothing makes sense in this world anymore. Then- at that moment- a coworker turns to me and says, "have you met the new Art Director that starts on Monday?"
Samantha turned around... and I fell in love. We made this film together three years before we got married.
This was our second dance together.
Our first was spent stomping around the streets of San Francisco (you can watch that here). But this time we were in London. They had just finished playing a traditional concert and we were itching to get into trouble. Wes wanted to see if we could find a couple who would kiss for the beginning of Classy Girls. I didn't want to "cast" a couple, so we decided to just walk into the bar upstairs and see what would happen. After all, it was late on a Saturday night— surely someone would want to smooch.
Loretta and Luke. What a couple.
What a classy second dance with The Lumineers.
Sometimes things are simple. When you have a talent like Tobias, all you really need to do is order a drink.
Tobias wears his heart on his sleeve, and that's why on that day I just let my heart take control of my camera. No frills. No whistles. Just heart. If John Lennon were still around making love songs today, I feel like they would sound a lot like this.
Thoughtful. Truthful. Vulnerable.
20 minutes. That's how long I asked him to stay silent.
We made a pact: let's go inside this abandoned house- just Willis, a sound guy, and myself- and let's explore what would happen if the three of us spent 20 minute in complete silence together. Now, if you've ever stared at someone for longer than 30 seconds in complete silence you know just how intense that can be.
The first 5 minutes went remarkably well. But once we hit around the 10 minute mark, Willis broke. He started talking. And for a split second I almost stopped recording, but then I realized that this master poet was breaking down walls and allowing us into his inner voice.
Once he was done he never said a word to me, and I didn't say anything to him. It was as if we had experienced something that would only be ruined by talking about it.
I hadn't been home in quite some time. I missed the city, my family, and my friends. I came back to film what we considered to be the most exciting indie bands in Mexico. We filmed over 20 Take Away Shows in a matter of 6 days. By the time I arrived to meet with Plastics Revolution, I was truly exhausted. I'm sure the mezcal the night before had nothing to do with it, but I remember turning to François Clos (Blogotheque's first audio engineer and the single most important person in developing sound recording and mixing for the Take Away Shows) and saying to him, "I don't know if I can do another session."
But at that moment, Plastics Revolution arrived with so much great energy that I wish I could have bottled it and served it for coffee every morning of my life. Boom! We're in a trajinera in the canals of Xoximilco with a goddamn mariachi band. ¡Viva Mexico!
It felt good to be home with new friends, all thirsty to chase the light of day.
The first time I came across the Take Away Shows on La Blogotheque, I spent an entire day watching every music video they had made. You see, YouTube had just launched and I was instantly convinced that these two Parisians artists (Vincent Moon and Christophe Abric) had just invented the most original, sincere, and explosive expression of what a music video could be.
I was hooked and I needed to be a part of it.
I sent them email after email hoping, pleading, begging to join their team. I wanted desperately to share in this new musical cinematic experience. But no response. So out of sheer youthful energy or naiveté (I’m not sure which) I emailed my favorite band at the time Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s and asked if they wanted to shoot a Take Away Show with me. To my surprise they wrote back and said yes.
This was my first Take Away Show. Over the years I made about a hundred more, became friends with some of the most amazing musicians around the world and collaborated with my dear Blogotheque family many times over. But if it wasn’t for this moment and for Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s, maybe none of it would have ever happened.
Well, shit. You made it all the way down here. I guess if you’re here, I should show you my very first poem. I made this with my very best friends Billy and Joel right out of college. It’s not perfect. Nowhere near. But that was never the point.
We were young and inexperienced. It was 2006 and we wanted change. What we lacked in experience we were going to make up in passion. 40 years after the summer of love, we were dead set in bringing back the spirit of the 60’s.