Video Chats: Kevin Slack on 'Here Comes My Man' by The Gaslight Anthem

Posted by Doug Klinger on October 23, 2012 in Interviews

Staff Post

Kevin and Elisha

Back in 2006, Kevin Slack directed his first music video for The Gaslight Anthem. This wasn’t only his first music video for the band, but his first music video ever. As Kevin’s career grew, he continued directing music videos for Gaslight. “Here Comes My Man,” which stars Elisha Cuthbert (Old School, The Girl Next Door), is their latest collaboration. We spoke with Kevin about what it was like working with Elisha, and what an actress like her can bring to a music video.  

Doug: Did this video come about through your relationship with Gaslight, or did you have to bid on it?

Kevin: I have had a long standing relationship with them and I just directed a music video for their song Handwritten a month ago. It was the first time I worked with them since they signed to a major and it could not have gone any better. The label was thrilled with the video so when it came time to do another I didn't have to do any bidding. They told me they wanted me to do another video and Benny (their drummer) and I sat down in a coffee shop in Jersey and worked out a concept together.

Doug: How did the casting of Elisha Cuthbert come about? Was the story line built around her, or was she cast in a video that needed a female lead?

Kevin: The story follows the themes behind the lyrics and Brian wrote the song from the perspective of a woman. So there was no doubt that the lead of this video had to be female. We decided we thought it'd be great to get a known actor to play the lead to help generate more buzz and press for the video. I gave my casting director and the label a list of actors I thought would be great and then they went through pretty standard channels for casting. About two days before shooting we still didn't have anyone and luckily the stars aligned and the sea parted and Elisha came in to save the day for us.

Kevin and Elisha

Doug: Did you guys have to make sure to keep a large chunk of the budget aside since you knew you were going for a recognizable actress, or were you looking for someone to work for scale? 

Kevin: We had a deal in place from the beginning that if we could find an actress that was well known, Island Def Jam would cover the cost of her salary outside of our production budget.  Since we had to split the shoot into basically two separate shoots because of scheduling issues, our budget was completely killed so it would have been impossible to pay an actress with what we had left. Which I'm totally thankful for them covering her salary because I couldn't imagine this video without her in it now.

Doug: Is there something an actress of her experience can bring to a music video that only someone like her can?

Kevin: Well first of all she brought me complete confidence as a director. I found it much easier to direct her than a complete amateur. Elisha is so good at knowing where the camera is in the scene and how to work with it to get the best shot. She is also just open to ideas and is not stuck in her own ways or anything, it was a complete joy. I think she also brings relatability (is that a word?) for the audience. People recognize her in a positive way and I think it helps bring the audience in more. She is a known actress but she isn't an Angelina Jolie where all the audience sees the whole time is Angelina (No offense Angelina, I love your work).

Kevin and Elisha

Doug: Is there any added pressure working with an actress of her notoriety?

Kevin: I felt pressure the night before. I was a fan of hers especially from the Girl Next Door and her new show Happy Endings so I was anxious as to what it would be like working with her. She's used to working on very large professional sets so I was a bit nervous she would show up and say "what the fuck is this??". However I'd say five minutes into meeting her in her trailer at 6am all the anxiety went away. She is so down to earth, relaxed and such a professional when it comes to acting. I thought she would stroll in with a team of people and she came alone and just hung out like we had known each other for years. So any pressure I had went away instantly.

Doug: You used two DPs on this video, John Paul Clark on the performance shots and Greg Ephraim for the narrative stuff. What was behind that decision?

Kevin: I like to make things as logistically and financially complicated as possible. No, it was totally a scheduling thing. John Paul was signed on to shoot the whole video but when we had to change the narrative shoot dates because of band scheduling and not having an actress yet, he had to go and get married and go on a honeymoon (Apparently John doesn't know where his priorities should be). Then because the actresses we were interested in lived in LA, we changed from shooting in NYC to shooting out west. So Greg, whom I've worked with previously and lives out there, was kind enough to take on shooting the narrative scenes. They are both so talented that it didn't appear as a problem to me at all.

Kevin and Elisha

Doug: Gaslight has been getting more and more attention with every video you guys do together, has there recent success also benefited you?

Kevin: It has definitely benefited me. I've gained my own fan base now from all of the Gaslight fans following my work. They've all actually been really supportive of me so it's interesting to be a part of that group. It was really flattering to have an extra come up to me on this shoot and tell me how much they've loved my work with Gaslight over the years. Another extra even brought me a gift so that's all sort of new to me and it's all because of Gaslight.

here comes my man, kevin slack, the gaslight anthem, video chats

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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