Video Shoot Anatomy 101

The Unvarnished Truth wades into strange, uncharted territory! Now that over a thousand of you have seen the new video for “The Immaculate Pompadours”, it’s time to have a look inside the suspicious world of the “making of” process! Ever wonder what it’s like to be on a fancy and expensive Hollywood-style video shoot? So do we!

Instead, what follows is a chronology of the seedy, behind-the-scenes, goings-on of what really happens during the making of a music video. And hey… let’s get interactive! Watch the finished product first (click over yonder on the right side of this page) and then read the diary of notes and photos taken during those scenes in-between takes. Or, read first and then marvel how we finished the thing amidst the drunken chaos! Either way, it’s just like being there. You’ll be able to actually feel the beat, smell the creativity and empathize with the bass player’s sexual frustration!


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah  

Sat Feb 23 – On this day… in 1896, the Tootsie Roll is first introduced…  Tommy Burns wins the 1906 heavyweight boxing title and now…. this.
Y’all may know us as the recording, performing and sadly unsigned juggernaut, Punch Drunk Cabaret. Today, we embark on a new page of the diamond, a new facet of the book, a new mixed metaphor!!

Our director, the powerful and attractive Mark Remple, did our first vid, “Two Brown Bottles Of Beer”, so we commissioned him again for this soon to be cinematic classic, the unbearably catchy “The Immaculate Pompadours”. Armed with storyboards and Herculean patience (and with his trusty sidekick Nigel), Mark led the way, thus beginning our journey toward YouTube glory!

Looks That Kill

The order of the day was to shoot the outdoor scenes of the band trudging thru the Alberta tundra, in search of the venue for our next gig…. a mythical speakeasy known as the "Liquor Haus”. Our look was to convey that turn-of-the-century pioneering spirit of those that came before us: part Mountie/part mad trapper with a fashionable kiss of steampunk. So off we go, the three of us following the director’s vehicle on a motorized sled towing a washtub full of luggage into the middle of snowy nowhere. Picture it now: your three Punch Drunk heroes astride a ski-doo in uncomfortably close proximity. It’s not particularly warm in late February on the prairies so the body heat from a fellow band member was awkwardly welcome. Good thing we enjoy each other’s company.

Traveling to the most desolate place we could find in a short time span (“Time is money!” I thought I heard the director scream) was integral to the isolated and barren feeling we were trying to convey in the video. It really wasn’t at all… only a mere one minute’s drive from the Ringmaster’s family’s farm. That one minute turned into a half hour combination of Keystone Cops meets Motley Crue: frequent toppled luggage sleds, being bucked off the ski-doo steed into thigh-high snowdrifts, lots of yelling….  and all of it aided by flask booze, cigarettes, layered clothing plus a high degree of jocularity. It was more like a wintry bush party with your friends than desolation.

Oldman’s Peak

With the perfect locale of frigid, isolated windswept hell found, director Mark and assistant Nigel proceeded to put us through the paces of real-life, big-time, rock video film making. But how, oh how are we supposed to make the opening scenes of frozen suffering and loneliness convincing for the camera? That’s the director’s job. I was just told to drink and walk. Done a-a-a-nd done!

Key action sequences included walking, standing, stumbling, walking whilst towing, walking downhill, walking uphill, pointing, etc. One important scene in particular tested our thespian mettle: look at a map, convincingly. Easy for you, maybe. But try doing it in the frigid cold as the director barks cruel “motivational” orders at you while you struggle to stay upright from the combination of uneven ground and mild intoxication. Now I know how Gary Oldman at his alcoholic peak must have felt. Or perhaps Pauly Shore.

The Magic Shack

After getting the shots we needed it was another intimate and harrowing ride on the sled back to the family farm for the scene at the doorway of the Liquor Haus. Which, incidentally, is no fictional building. It is PDC’s actual, for reals, bonafide rehearsal space, where many magical, musical moments have been birthed over the years! This multi-purpose facility will also double for the house of dubiousness later; complete with illegal spirits, guns and painted ladies of questionable virtue…. pretty much a typical band practice, anyway.

Once More With Feeling

Sat Mar 9 - On this day… in 1918, mystery writer Mickey Spillane is born… Napoleon marries Josephine in 1796.… and today, Punch Drunk Cabaret goes back to the fields of Wetaskiwin to do the whole damned thing over again.

Director Mark Remple, being the affable but picky perfectionist that he is, summoned us back to the location shoot to re-do everything we recorded two weeks prior. Again? What in the name of Mickey Spillane for??? Apparently, colour correction, filtering and something to do with no film in the camera…. not sure, I might’ve misheard that last part during a pee break.  

Make It A Double

So in the spirit of our reputation as easy-going fellows coupled with our cowardly inability to say no right to Mark’s face, off we went back to the frozen fray. We did exactly the same thing, in the same manner, with the same clothes and the same level of inebriation. And may I say, your humble scribe certainly did his part.

Another day of terrible WX…. meaning sunny sky and plus 2. Not exactly conducive to portraying harsh winter conditions. But with a fresh canister of film (I think), filters filted and colours correctly corrected, we got the job done.

Vive Le Quebec Libre!

Earlier in the day whilst waiting for our slave dri… I mean our pal Mark, we jammed some tunes in prep for an upcoming gig…. and wrote a new tune that might make the cut for a future album: “Poutine Bon Homme”. Lyrics by the Rev hisself! Ask him to sing it for you sometime. Hey, Quebec…. I think I smell a hit!

Home Stretch

Sat Mar 23... Today in History: big victories in small packages…. In 1912, the Dixie Cup is invented… 1985, Billy Joel weds supermodel Christie Brinkley…. and the biggest little trio around, PDC, finally makes it to the last stage! This is the final shooting day…. the bar scene where your behatted heroes find the elusive venue and perform in front of characters of ill repute, trying to win them over with their tasty brand of rockabelixir. But not before the following shenanigans….

 - 1:30pm -  Waiting for pretty burlesque girl extras at top secret location in Edmonton to meet me and escort them to the shoot… I’d call that a good start to the day.

 - 1:50pm - They’re late. Strike against them. I tell them to follow me on Hwy 16 to Wetaskiwin. It’s actually Hwy 2. Strike against me.

 - 2:50pm - Without incident, we arrive at the destination: the fictional Liquor Haus. Extras (including a live chicken) milling about. Introductions made. Burlesque girls shun me after almost sending them to Edson.


- 4:00pm - Props propped up. Smoke machines tested. Drinks poured. All extras and band members costumed and ready to take orders from director Mark and assistant Nigel.

 - 5:00pm - The organized chaos ensues…. shifty barflies imbibing, total strangers socializing and the ever important scantily clad burlesque girls providing more eye candy than we can handle (or at least me, personally).

Liquor and Chickens and Boobs, Oh My!

Director Mark Remple has a devil of a time corralling the musicians, extras and poultry to do and be what he wants them to do/be. No easy task when snacks and booze and cleavage are on display. But no one was bored and, really, is there anything hooters & hooch can’t do?

 - Extras shoot their scenes (gotta give them something to do before they’re too tipsy). Key characters include: a cowboy, two bikers, the proverbial town drunk, a bar-top chicken, a gangster couple, an Hutterite bartender and several attractive ladies in burlesque garb or other period costume. Key characters not available: a priest, a stuffed meerkat, a trapeze artist, an alpaca.

Let’s Dance!

 - 7:00pm or later… memory turning to a boozy fog now. It was time for the band to “perform”. In other words, lip synch to our own song (which we’re not used to doing). But really… if we can’t even do that, shame on us. And if the music thing doesn’t work out, we could always try our hand at running a good ol’ fashioned combination speakeasy/curio shop, complete with pickled oddities, antiquities and the finest rotgut. Which could also describe the band if the music thing does work out.

- Hour unknown… everybody’s dancing to the beat… band is “rock synching”…. vision slightly blurry from several concoctions that that shifty Hutterite bartender made me.

Post-Coital Cigarette

Finally, the end of shoot…. so much organized chaos… so much bedlam… but professional all the way. We continue the party for a while (but without filming as far as I know -- note to self: check YouTube later for “bass player, hat, chicken“). Photo ops, hugs and goodbyes ensue.

King-sized kudos go to Mark Remple and Nigel Hinds for staying true, working hard and getting results in the eye of the party hurricane that surrounded them. And we couldn’t have done it without our extras & helpers, friends new and old. 


“The Immaculate Pompadours” - starring Punch Drunk Cabaret. Featuring:
Oly, Jeff, Delilah, Kiki, Forbsie, Catherine, Katherine, Gregory, Diamond Dave, Barclay, K-Rock, chicken.

Fun facts:

 - The map used in a shot lasting maybe three seconds was created by The Ringmaster and took two days to make.

 - None of the pickled embalmeries in the bar scene contained any meat. Speaking of which, the live chicken featured in the video stayed that way.


And that's the unvarnished truth.