It’s a great feat of alchemy when an old track gets new life through a music video. This doesn’t happen very often, as until recently the music video was so tightly connected to the traditional model of the music industry – you needed the support of a record label and actual music tv stations to pull one off and to have somewhere to play it. Thankfully, all that is out of the way, and truly passion-born projects can emerge out of the mists, such as *Shels’ brand new, entirely fan-made video for the track “In Dead Palm Fields”, from their 2007 album Sea of the Dying Dhow.
Yanni Bouziotas loves *Shels – there can be no question about that. Working on zero budget, with basic filming equipment, and from across the North American continent, he has produced an excellent video. I personally think this is a very difficult thing to achieve, since the music in general, and *Shels’ music in particular, is so very cinematic that often times cinematography becomes redundant. If the challenge of the film maker is to up the cinematic ante, then Mr. Bouziotas has risen to that challenge!
The video is beautiful on many levels, from the actual settings chosen, to the easy, natural feeling of the volunteer ensemble choreography. Contrast and texture is used to great effect, mirroring the music in delightful ways, and the colors are very well attuned to the mood: dazzling when they need to be, muted when the song calls for restraint.
Overall, Mr. Bouziotas manages to dodge most clichés and offers not only a truly enjoyable video, but also – in a broader sense – an example for filmmakers to take the plunge and create something inspiring out of the same passion that bands nowadays are creating their music. It’s all become a DIY process, and the beauty and authenticity of that most definitely deserves to be captured on film as well as on tape.
Here’s what Yanni Bouziotas told us about the process of working on this video:
“I set to work on making a *shels music video with zero budget… In Dead Palm Fields has always been one of my favorite songs, and it didn’t take me long to draft and write up a script. The hardest part was working to make this script come to life. I gathered many extras and actors from a local film making group in Ottawa. I recruited friends who shared my passions to be camera men and crew, and we got to work.
Locations in and around Ottawa were filmed with our lead actor. I gathered a large handful of actors and we had a blast painting faces, listening to music and running around all painted up. Everyone who ended up helping out was super nice to work with. They were people who worked as volunteers, for the love of film making. It also helped that before filming I showed them the song, and they loved it. The filming only took a couple of days, but they were long, busy ones. We also had to wait for the appropriate seasonal changes to convey the imagery I wanted.
Finally, I edited the video myself, and spent many hours trying to capture the right pacing, atmosphere and look that I had envisioned. The process wasn’t without its hiccups, and through feedback from *shels I further refined the video. As in any serious production, we had to make some tough decisions about which content was to be cut (we had quite a bit of footage!). In the end, I think our work has really paid off.
What started out as field work for college has turned into a longer labor of love, as I always knew it would. For me, and for *shels, this video is the first of its kind. I am excited to see what the future holds, and most of all I am excited to see what shelsmusic fans new and old think of this video, as it is created by someone who loves this band as much as they do.”