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AP.net Interview: Kevin Slack and Benny Horowitz

Posted by: Jason Tate (07/18/12)
We recently sat down and talked with the men behind The Gaslight Anthem's new video for "Handwritten." The video hit Vevo in the UK/Europe yesterday, and will be available in the US on Friday. The concept came from Gaslight drummer Benny Horowitz, and was directed by Kevin Slack. Check the replies to learn a little more about the process behind the film.
From the InterviewThe whole idea behind this single was that we would make two versions for it. One will be the music video and then we would make a longer short film version. The short film will have dialogue, an original score and be much more of a standard narrative without the band in it. The pacing will be slower, there will be scenes and moments that aren't in the music video and we get to extend other scenes and let them breathe a bit more than the fast paced music video. Like the concept of the video, I'm excited to see the life that the film takes on. As someone who wants to make feature films for a living, I'm much more attracted to a narrative than watching a band perform their song, so this whole idea of doing a film version was really exciting to me.


You've worked with TGA a few times now what was different about this experience compared to the others?

Kevin Slack: I think this is our 5th music video together so I've now worked with them when they were playing for 15 people in a Jersey basement to being on a major record label and selling out every venue they play. I've been lucky enough to be on the ride with them through all of this. There are some obvious differences between the Handwritten video and the others like money, promotion and the amount of record label reps on set. However the biggest difference for me though was the strong collaboration between Benny and I. The main concept was his idea and once we got that set, Benny and I wrote a script together for the project instead of just working off of a 1 page video treatment. I would write a draft and send it to him for his notes and thoughts. Then we would get on the phone and talk about it for a while. I'd go write a new draft and continue that process. It was an absolute blast to work closely with someone on the script, usually I'm alone during that process. Benny was also on set almost every day and he even sat with me for some of the editing. He has great instincts when it comes to story and what works and what doesn't so it was super helpful to have a partner like him on this video. Another huge difference was the shoot was 5 days long. Up until this point we had never done a video that had more than a 2 day shoot.

Where did the concept for the video come from?

Kevin
: The central idea for the video came from Benny. After he saw my last short film, The Drought, he contacted me about doing some sort of collaboration together outside of a Gaslight music video. Benny is one of the biggest film buffs I know, so he is really interested in filmmaking and learning more about the production end of things. When they found out Handwritten was going to be a single he had come up with this idea that the rest of the band was into. So he contacted me and asked if I wanted to collaborate and develop the idea with him. From what he has told me, he actually inherited a record collection from someone who went to jail. So that inspired the idea that these records continue to live different lives when they get passed on to other people.

Benny: The original concept stemmed from an idea I had about following the life of a record. How these inanimate objects hold such sway in peoples lives, and how something that meant so much to someone can mean so little to someone else. And vice versa. Records have always been a huge part of my life in many ways, and I often stare at them and wonder what their story is. This idea was a way for me to tell their story.

The video itself feels like it could be part of a larger story, any chance we'll see some of that?

Kevin: Yes you definitely will. The whole idea behind this single was that we would make two versions for it. One will be the music video and then we would make a longer short film version. The short film will have dialogue, an original score and be much more of a standard narrative without the band in it. The pacing will be slower, there will be scenes and moments that aren't in the music video and we get to extend other scenes and let them breathe a bit more than the fast paced music video. Like the concept of the video, I'm excited to see the life that the film takes on. As someone who wants to make feature films for a living, I'm much more attracted to a narrative than watching a band perform their song, so this whole idea of doing a film version was really exciting to me.

Benny: Absolutely, the original idea and much of the effort in filming was to have this be a larger story. You will definitely see more of this in the not so distant future. Not sure of the length, but we have a very specific idea on the feel and look of the longer film.

Is there a particular message you wanted to get across with the video?

Benny
: I was really focused on executing the story inside of 4 minutes. I never had any idea how difficult it actually is to make that happen until I got behind the effort with Kevin. The message is inside the story, if we did a good job, it should be clear to people watching and something that could be potentially different for people who watch it.

Kevin: Well hopefully it means something different to everyone. I don't usually like to tell people what I think a film I direct is about. If you watch some of my other films I tend to keep the endings a bit vague because in my experience it opens up dialogue much more between the audience. This video though was essentially a love letter to music and art. It is about owning a physical piece of art that takes on a life of its own. It may mean something very specific to one owner, then it gets passed on and means something very different to the next owner. As you've seen in many of their lyrics, the band is a huge fan of vinyl records and romanticizing the idea of owning one. This was their love letter to things that are handmade or handwritten.

Ok, so is this the official second single?

Benny: It's the official UK second single. But un-official for the rest of the world...the internet makes those things so available these days it'll get around everywhere.

Kevin: This is probably a better question for the band or label but from my understanding it is the official 2nd single for the UK and some other countries. I believe the US will be pushing "45" for a while longer until another single, which won't be Handwritten. They essentially have 2 record labels so it gets confusing trying to figure out how it all works. I'll stick to just pointing the camera at them.

I also just wanted to take this time to thank my cast and crew on this project. It was a long exhausting shoot and everyone really worked their ass off to make this project something special. I couldn't have done it without every single one of them.

Huge thank you to both of the guys for taking their time to answer a few questions, make sure to check out the new video on Friday (or if you can be sneaky, pretend you're in the UK and watch it now) -- and buy the band's new album next week. Also, hit up Kevin on twitter or his website to learn more about his projects.
  
 
Displaying posts 1 - 12 of 12
11:06 AM on 07/18/12
#2
zachff
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Very cool concept, I can't wait to see the longer version with dialogue.
11:09 AM on 07/18/12
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zachff
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Also I'm very surprised that Handwritten won't be the second US single. Any guesses on what that will end up being?
11:11 AM on 07/18/12
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The video is one of the best I've seen. What a great concept.
11:50 AM on 07/18/12
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Video is absolutely fantastic. Set design for the old 50's neighborhood when the kid heads off to war was incredible. Love the dolly shot through the window of the house, too.
11:53 AM on 07/18/12
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Also I'm very surprised that Handwritten won't be the second US single. Any guesses on what that will end up being?

They didnt say that. It may eventually be the second US single, but currently they are still pushing 45 as a single, because 45 is still climbing on the charts. You wouldn't release another single until the momentum starts to let up a bit. So Handwritten might still be the 2nd US single later on on the album cycle. If its not though, I could see Here Comes My Man being the next single
12:46 PM on 07/18/12
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Loved the video and the song. It deserves to be a single over here in the States. Pretty strong feeling it'll blow up more than "45."
01:00 PM on 07/18/12
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They didnt say that. It may eventually be the second US single, but currently they are still pushing 45 as a single, because 45 is still climbing on the charts. You wouldn't release another single until the momentum starts to let up a bit. So Handwritten might still be the 2nd US single later on on the album cycle. If its not though, I could see Here Comes My Man being the next single
...
Quote:
I believe the US will be pushing "45" for a while longer until another single, which won't be Handwritten.
01:10 PM on 07/18/12
#9
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That's the director saying that. Not Benny. I'm not saying he doesn't know for certain, but chances are he doesn't know what the record labels plans are to a T for 2 months down the line. Just saying.
03:28 PM on 07/18/12
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Very good song and I like the video. Can't wait for the LP to arrive.

But I don't see how in 2012, Europe gets a different "release date" for an online music video before certain other territories eg the US and Canada.

All they are doing is killing possible momentum, possible future-fans, view counts and thus advertising revenue.

When it comes to music videos on Youtube, it should always be a full Worldwide release.

Edit: God The Vaccines have done exactly the same with their new video
02:52 AM on 07/19/12
Kyle Huntington
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Very good song and I like the video. Can't wait for the LP to arrive.

But I don't see how in 2012, Europe gets a different "release date" for an online music video before certain other territories eg the US and Canada.

All they are doing is killing possible momentum, possible future-fans, view counts and thus advertising revenue.

When it comes to music videos on Youtube, it should always be a full Worldwide release.

Edit: God The Vaccines have done exactly the same with their new video
You don't realise how long people in the UK/Europe have not been able to watch content released in North America online, it's been like that for us for years and still happens. It is super annoying, but it started happening over there before VEVO came along. Not solely the band's choice either.
08:58 PM on 07/20/12
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Can't wait for the short film.
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