Three bands. Two bars. Two actresses. One sexy-ass beat-up teal 1958 Chevy. A bunch of donated gear. A crew of film and design professionals. Five months. And countless hours of work.
Oh, and all of that on a zero-dollar budget.
That’s what it took to create three slick, cool new music videos. This was the Summer Video Project, a collaboration of local design shop Atomic Film and Design and local musicians Missy Knott, Andrew Shedden, and The Lohrwoods – plus a bunch of amazing creative local talent.
The Summer Video Project is the brainchild of Kate LeDeuce. Most people probably know Kate as the frontwoman for local band roboteyes, but she also runs a graphic design and video production company, Atomic Film and Design.
The company does a lot of work at the national and international level, but you’ve probably seen some of their bold, striking designs here in town. They do all The Garnet’s branding, they’ve worked with the 24 Hour Music Project and Peterborough Pride, they designed Melissa Payne’s most recent album, and (no surprise) they also do all of roboteyes’ videos and design work. Their website includes a full portfolio.
But the Summer Video Project was something entirely new.
The idea first came earlier this year. Kate explains, “I was looking at these local bands that needed proper representation, and I asked myself: what would that cost? Probably thousands. But what if they had all the resources that roboteyes has access to? A video editor, a graphic designer, an effects editor, an SEO person…
“And I thought, what if I did that for other bands? What if I just did free videos for three bands?”
A call was put out to local bands. The response was incredibly enthusiastic, and soon three artists were chosen: Missy Knott, Andrew Shedden, and The Lohrwoods.
Soon, more people were signing up too. This is a city full of creative resources – not just musicians, but all sorts of smart, talented people who are passionate about the arts, and love to help out. Burlesque performer Evie Blue and musician Scarlett Grace volunteered to appear in the videos. Bradley Boyle and Ryan Ford came on as director’s assistants. Creative Audio donated some lights. The Pig’s Ear and the Red Dog offered up their space. And Matt Servo, a frequent Atomic collaborator, did all the animation work.
“A lot of people had great ideas,” recalls Kate, “and that helped shape what the videos would become.”
The video shoots took place in May, and Shedden’s came out soon after. The others would require significantly more work, for animation and colour correction. “We didn’t want to just throw something up there, to get it out there,” explains Kate. “You need to think about what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Sit back, take a look, and ask, is it done? It could be done in three hours, but take your time and get some perspective.”
Missy’s video was particularly time consuming – partially thanks to the post-filming decision to completely relocate the video to a Utah desert.
The results speak for themselves. The videos are gorgeous and atmospheric, each tailored to the specific tone of its song. Missy Knott’s aspirational pop-rock works beautifully in the hyper-real, bright and shiny Utah desert. Andrew Shedden’s dark tale is matched by a smoky and malevolent basement and eerie, abstracted poker visuals. And The Lohrwoods’ freewheeling video matches the band’s mile-a-minute retro-styled goofiness. They hardly look like the work of the same small group of artists, much less the same group working with literally no money.
“I think more than anything, we showed that artists should be able to pool resources,” says Kate. “I’m not saying everyone has to work for free, but if you can get involved with people that have the same interests as you, you can create a collective that’s mutually beneficial.”
Of course, Atomic’s work with bands goes far beyond the Summer Video Project. The Lohrwoods, for example, have a new album, Until We Meet Again (on Bandcamp – watch for a review on ECL soon). Atomic helped with the album’s graphic design, along with the band’s website and even their live shows, including the rockabilly/burlesque variety show at the Pig’s Ear a couple weeks ago.
Atomic is also helping The Lohrwoods break into the market south of the border. “We’re trying to see what it takes to put together a great package, to break into an American music scene, with a Canadian band, for an American roots style of music.”
In the meantime, the Summer Video Project will return. It was an insane amount of work, but Kate hopes it will be an annual tradition. “There’s only three stipulations. You have to have something to promote. You have to have a mixed and mastered track. And – maybe more than anything – you have to be willing to accept ideas.”
Cover image courtesy Atomic Film & Design / Kate LeDeuce.