Video Chats: Tim Hendrix on ‘80s Fitness’ by Koan Sound
Posted by Doug Klinger on January 5, 2013 in Interviews
In “80s Fitness” by Koan Sound, director Tim Hendrix introduces us to a colorful and twisted world full of violence, murder, and spandex (which apparently is more expensive than you’d think). We talked to Tim about living in an editing suite to finish this video, interrupting Saman Keshavarz, and jazzercise.
Doug: You mentioned to me prior to the interview that you were able to convince OWSLA Recordings to give you guys $5,000 for this video. By convince, did you mean through your treatment, or through some other means?
Tim: I had to do several treatments. $5,000 was the default amount, but we were skeptical because Koan Sound's publicist reached out and asked a bunch of directors to write treatments, and they sent this email out to all the directors that said all the treatments had too much plot and too much story. They said they wanted rotoscoped stock footage of 80s fitness people. I basically wrote this long second treatment that extended upon that. I sent them my reel and said, “What we have is sort of rotoscoped, but you're not going to get quality roto in a two month time period.” I told them, "We could get this weird animated look and still have a narrative. If you're giving me $5,000, you can't deny me the fun of actually making all these 80s costumes." It's an error in logic to have those resources and not make some ridiculous reconstruction. It seems like a waste. OWSLA agreed with me, and was incredibly open and supportive from that point onward.
Doug: $5,000 is a decent amount of money, especially for a record label to just send to some relatively unknown college students. However, this video has a lot of VFX, stunts, a large cast, and a lot of props and costumes. Did you run into any issues with how to allocate that budget?
Tim: Production design ended up costing quite a bit. I have a great producer Filippo Nesci and a great first AD, Nima Shoghi, who keep everything under control. We got a lot more than $5,000 worth of work out of the video by working at school and getting the lights and stuff for free. The only piece of equipment we had to rent was the RED, and even that was a RED One, so it was pretty cheap. I just wish we had more money for effects because I had to do them all myself, which tends to put a dampen on things because I can only do so much. What also surprised us was how much food cost. We had like 30 people on set, and that was one of the things that all our reserve went to. We were surprised, but shouldn’t have been because people have to eat.
Doug: What about spandex, was that a major expense?
Tim: For the funeral, we could only afford one set of black leotards. We already had like ten colorful ones for the main cast, but when they’re at funerals, we had to stick to close-ups on their feet because we could only afford one pair of black leg warmers after all the main spandex had been bought. It was a weird fiasco there. I have to credit Ambre Wrigley, our costume designer for that. She just came up with that on the spot.
Doug: You mentioned doing the effects yourself, were there any repercussions from taking on all of those tasks on your own?
Tim: I think part of it was the deadline. You look at similar videos, like that Kill The Noise one with the zombies - I read in an interview that that dude had like four months to do the effects, which is why they're so clean. I had three weeks to do 170 shots that were mostly green screen, which was really intense. I just sat in this computer lab for three weeks doing nothing but effects. My car broke down, too, so I was basically living in this editing suite that I checked out. That actually lead me to a really funny run in with Saman Keshavarz. It's 3am and we're editing, and I go outside and the hamburger dude from the Vitalic video is there standing over this bleeding black dude. I was like, "What the fuck is this?" I go back in the lab and I see Saman there and hear him say, "Let me see playback on that. Who the hell is that in the back of the take?" I came out and just said, "Sorry, it was me." He apparently was shooting the Vitalic video while I was editing this one.
Doug: You basically had a real life version of that music video.
Tim: Yeah. Saman and I know each other. I've PAed on a bunch of his sets prior to that. I told him, "Hey, I swept the floor for you once." And he said he remembered me. Then I said, "Sorry, I'm also doing a fitness video."
Doug: Did you know he was doing a fitness video?
Tim: I had no idea. I didn't even know how fitness themed it was until I saw the final product. I thought, "What are the odds that two people at the school are doing incredibly twisted fitness videos for electronic bands from Europe?"
Doug: And on the technical side of the video, I noticed you guys used a lot of miniature sets to create many of your locations, which is great. What was behind this decision?
Tim: It was my decision, because I like miniatures and I've been looking for an excuse. I am a big nerd and read a lot of FX magazines, so I'm always into the retro approach to effects, which is generally all I can afford anyway. We originally had a production designer doing miniatures and full size sets, but it was too much for her, so we brought in my friend Emily Kiefer last minute to do miniatures. We brought her in the second day of shooting because the main production department was too overwhelmed. She just sat there on the side one day and made them. It's a miracle that they all exist. I think it was a fun deviation from just the hand drawn background, which is a gimmick that I’m known for. It was fun to make them more tactile. Still out there, but a little more grounded.
Doug: What about the actors? A lot of the stunts and chorography seem pretty difficult, where did you find those guys?
Tim: Some of them are people I've used on past assignments, the girl who died first is actually my girlfriend, there are few people from an improv class, it was all a big mix. Only a few of them had stunt training. We had a great stunt supervisor named Kimo Keoke, who's done parkour and martial arts stuff before. I told him about this video and he said, "Actually, before I did martial arts, I did jazzercise back in the 80s." He's behind all the choreography, he knew exactly what I wanted because he knew both martial arts and jazzercise. He had this weird mix of them and would invent all these moves on the spot. I'd be like, "Kimo, I need him to break her neck, but it needs to be fabulous." And he'd just be like, "I got it," and come up with it right there. He taught everyone the dance they do, too. I just told him a few days before that I needed a two or four measure dace at the beginning. And he just said, "I'll know what to do when the time comes," and sure enough he did. He also knew all the wirework, and all the cable work. Mary, the girl with the machine guns, and Rustic, the guy who does the splits, are actually trained in parkour and trained with him a lot. They were there to help him on the more difficult stuff. I think that's the key to success, if you're 20, just hire a bunch of people who aren't 20, but that have been doing these things for 20 years, and it will just reflect really well. He's really great at what he does.
80s fitness, koan sound, tim hendrix, 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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