Jonathan London (Video Director) - 07.18.06
|Q: First off, I'd just like to extend a huge thank you for taking the time to sit down for this conversation. Now, can you please give me your name and what you do for a living?|
A: My name is Jonathan London, and I do various things for a living. That's the harsh reality of wanting to be a director. You've got to do a lot of odd jobs to pay for living the dream, and sometimes it's a nightmare. But, I'd like to think that I make movies and videos.
Q: Can you give our readers a quick rundown of some past projects you have been involved in?
A: I've directed videos for bands like Reggie and the Full Effect, Reel Big Fish, Punchline, The New Amsterdams, Houston Calls, blah, blah, blah. I love these bands and have been pretty fortunate to work with bands I am a fan of. I also directed a short movie called Gay By Dawn that won a few awards and I'm about to do another one. Oh, and every week I co-host a movies, video games and comic book podcast called Geekdrome.
Q: You recently were called aboard to put together the DVD portion of the forthcoming, triple-disc effort from Reel Big Fish, Our Live Album Is Your Live Album. How exactly would you describe your role in the experience?
A: I got ALOT of help. Even though my name is on the DVD as the director, it was not really easy to do. I directed their last video and since then Aaron Barrett and the band and their manager really made me a close friend. Reel Big Fish is one of my favorite bands, so I was scared to screw up the video. Then, when they asked me to do the DVD, I got really scared because of the dates. We shot it on Thursday, the 23rd of March and that week of my life looked like this: the Thursday and Friday before I was in Austin, Texas directing the New Amsterdams and Blackpool Lights videos back to back. Then I got on a plane, came back home and did the Reel Big Fish shoot and then a day later shot back-to-back videos for Punchline and a band on Floodgate Records called The Myriad. I know some directors like to work like this, but I don't. I like a lot of time to read comic books in between shoots. So, I had a lot of help in shooting and putting the DVD together. My friend Vijay Kher, who did the really funny "Love Reality" Reggie video with Adam from TBS and John from The Bled, helped a lot, as did my editor Pascal, DVD author Mikey, and Nick and Ryan, two huge RBF fans who helped me with the footage. It took me a while to commit to the band because I just didn't want to mess it up for them. They played a show in February in Hollywood and I went to see them and their manager Vince took me, pointed to Aaron on stage and said "You see that guy? He doesn't trust anyone. But, he trusts you." And I know it was a compliment, but it scared the shit out of me because I hold the band in such high regard as friends and as a fan. So, I didn't say yes until I knew we could do a good job. Sorry. Loooooooong answer.
Q: How do you feel now that the entire experience is wrapped up, packaged, and ready to go?
A: I'm really proud of the DVD. I'd never done a live DVD before, but when Mikey delivered the finished thing to them I got this message on my phone of a bunch of people screaming. I was like "Nooo!! My live DVD killed them! It exploded their TV and now they are burning to death because of me!! What have I done!?!", and then I heard them all laughing and yelling that they loved the DVD. That made me feel awesome. That's all I cared about, and it's all because of my awesome team.
Q: What was your favourite part about the making of the DVD?
A: Just hanging out with them again and working with them. I first met RBF in 1998 when I was in undergrad and I was such a fan. We had a lot of fun doing the "Don't Start a Band" video, and I was floored when they asked me to do it. Now, I'm like the musically challenged 7th member of the band. It's really flattering. It's cool to be able to call people you respect like that your close friends. And Aaron and I keep joking about making a horror movie together. We have a ton of good ideas for one.
Q: On the other hand, were there any moments that you would categorize as "absolute hell" throughout the entire process?
A: Nope, not with this band. Everyone who shot, edited or worked on this with me were huge RBF fans too, so it was all a lot of fun. My real job was just to keep everyone working and stay out of their way while they did all the stuff that required actual talent and skill. I don't have any of that.
Q: So, there wasn't a single time when you just wanted to walk away from it all and give up on everything?
A: Not after we started. Really. The biggest issue was whether I could do the job properly. I know people are going to laugh at me for saying that, because to them it's just a live DVD. But, think of your top five favorite bands or your closest friends. You don't want to let those people down or royally mess up. It's embarrassing. I can embarrass myself just fine without bringing one of my favorite bands down with me, so I was really scared to take it on. Please stop laughing at me. I take this stuff way too seriously sometimes! You wouldn't want someone messing up YOUR live DVD!
Q: Tell us, what kind of work exactly goes into putting together a project like this?
A: I really had no idea! So, a few weeks before the shoot, while I was organizing cameras and people, I went on the Reel Big Fish message boards. I asked their fans what they wanted to see on the DVD and I asked Aaron what he wanted. As much as I didn't want to disappoint the band, I REALLY didn't want to make the fans mad. They are intense. People were wearing costumes to the show and home-made t-shirts. I was like "Shit. I fuck this up and some 16 year old with purple hair and a closet full of suspenders and checkered pants is going to shoot me." So, there was some feedback from fans on what they wanted and I tried to get that shot and get it on the DVD. I did a lot of producing on this DVD after the show was shot. Just making sure the editing, the extras and the artwork were coming along in order to make the deadlines. It was a lot of organizing. But, I didn't want to rush the people editing because they were doing such an awesome job. And Aaron's a perfectionist. So, he saw everything and signed off on it before it went to the finished DVD.
Q: Has pleasing the target audience always been your main goal when working on a project, or has it ever been more about crafting something that you will personally enjoy?
A: Nope. I'm a giant man-hooker. It's not about me. It's about pleasing the customer, and I've got a pretty good success rate and am glad I've made a lot of people happy. My short films are more for myself. But, the videos are for one purpose only: to sell CD's for the band and label. I'm a big commercial hooker trying to appeal to the widest audience possible while not alienating the fans already in the pocket. So, I hope Reel Big Fish sells a lot of these CD/DVD's. I won't make any money if they do or don't, but they'll be happy and they'll think of me next time. But, the shorts are more for me.
Q: From what I've heard, there's alot in store for fans of Reel Big Fish. Can you give us a quick overview of what we will be able to find on the DVD?
A: You can expect a really long set, some extras like overdubbing of the tracks (yeah, they cheated a little), some rehearsals, some interview stuff, two commentary tracks, some acoustic jams, and a few easter eggs for the DVD geeks.
Q: Is there any material that will absolutely shock viewers that we should watch out for?
A: Nope. I cut the shot of me giving Scott a blumpkin at the last minute. It was just too intimate and belongs to us. I didn't want to cheapen what we shared. And, other than that, if you know the Fish, you'll love the stuff you'll see.
Q: How well do you feel the DVD captures the personality and live experience surrounding the band?
A: Pretty well. I've never seen the one Kung Fu put out as part of their The Show Must Go Off series a few years ago, but from what I could gather from the fans online, it didn't capture the band or the fun of the band which is my favorite thing about them. But, the fans can be pretty demanding, and that's okay. So, this DVD is hopefully different. I think watching this DVD is going to be a lot of fun for anyone, even if you're a cursory fan or not a fan at all. It has the power to convert you! And who doesn't want to have fun? It's a good DVD and the live show is cut so well. It's the second best thing to being at one of their shows. Trust me. Your mom is going to walk into your room and you're going to be dancing to this thing all by yourself, and then you're going to have "the talk" about whether or not your "using grass". It'll get you that crazy. So, just tell her "No, I'm shooting rhino steroids", because this DVD WILL get you that pumped. Rhino steroids pumped.
Q: What strategies did you use to ensure that you captured the true personality of the band on stage and off?
A: Phil Jackson's triangle offense. Every now and then we would run a high screen and roll or look down low for the back door pass off of the UCLA screen. We're a half-court team, so it was important not to get caught up in the run and gun game that Reel Big Fish plays. They'd kill us on the fast break, so we just had to stick to our game plan and play solid defense. But, other than that, I think it helped that we were all huge Reel Big Fish fans, and that we knew the songs and knew when to move the camera in, show the audience, zoom or pull out to a wide shot of the band. It was important to have RBF fans shoot this because anyone else wouldn't have known the songs well enough to support them visually. And, the same goes with editing and when we shot the band off stage. It helped that we were all friends. They were just making a DVD with their friend and that helped them open up and act real. But, we still had to watch for their fast breaks and outlet passes and try and defend the length of the floor and not allow open passes.
Q: If you had to choose one single moment, what is your absolute favourite part of the DVD portion?
A: One of the easter eggs. But, telling you about it will ruin it, so you'll have to find it on your own. I think the commentaries are good too. There's one serious one and a funny, delirious one. You get to hear both sides of the band.
Q: Do you think more projects along these lines will appear in your future?
A: I don't know about live DVD's. It's too much producing, so the band would have to be one of my favorites like this one. But, more Reel Big Fish videos? I hope so. I want to do some short films with them too. They are pretty funny actors. Watch some of those earlier videos. They're really charismatic. If Aaron wanted to, he could EASILY put Rob Schneider out of a job.
Q: Well, I think that's a good note to end on. But, before we call it a night, let me just throw this one last question out there. If you had to engage in sexual intercourse with a member of Reel Big Fish, who would it be, and why?
A: Danny. Come on! You tellin' me there isn't any rust on that instrument he's playing? We would definitely fix that!
Q: Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview with me. Do you have any last words you'd like to leave our readers with before we go?
A: Go out and buy 5 copies of "Our Live Albums Is Better Than Your Live Album" or Brandon Allin will kill an innocent kitten. Again.
Q: That'll make two this week. Goodnight, Jonathan.
A: Stay hard, man! Stay off drugs and listen to Geekdrome.
12:13 AM on 07/18/06
pascal and mikey are my good friends. yay.
01:45 PM on 07/18/06
Jonathan. RBF and Pascal are awesome!!