Jason Baum's Personal Top 10 of the Decade

Posted by Jason Baum on December 31, 2019 in Lists

Contributor Post

If you follow my top ten lists every year, you might recall that I normally don’t include videos that I have worked on. However, given the celebration, I’d like to think I’ve made some pretty cool things. So indulge me as I share some stories on the videos that are most dear to my heart from the past decade. In alpha order…

I think you’ll always remember the first time you are nominated for a Grammy. But, I will always remember the little things about this shoot. Driving through the palm tree farms, knocking on trailer park doors and using Google Translate to explain to farmers that Spiderman is going to present as a female to tell a story written by a Canadian rock band all while the town has their yearly influx of boho chic influencers running around. Also, who else gets to “scout” Coachella?!

Sometimes the tiniest budgets are the most fun. (don’t quote me on that ever again) I think part of the reason why the entries on this list are here is because I truly don’t know how these videos could have been the same if they were produced by anyone else. My uncle runs a non-profit called Youth Mentoring Connection which helps inner city kids find a positive community and he helped me cast the real family for this video.

Ever get a treatment and they have references for a video you did? That was my year after this video came out. I’d like to think this was the first and possibly only 5D music video that ever actually looked good. And the road trip you see on screen was exactly how it felt everyday. Whomever said that starring in a music video together will doom your relationship is wrong! Because Jenny and Jason are now married, have a child, and are still very much in love. Kardashians take note.

If “Clapping for the Wrong Reasons” was a music video, it would be here instead. It quite honestly is my most favorite thing that I’ve ever made. But, how often do you get to take all your friends to your childhood home and shoot a video about a tropical alien romance? Damn, that was so cool too. Or alt classic Hiro collab: St. Vincent “Cheerleader” aka the time I almost lost a location at 5 PM the night before a shoot day.

Back to what’s it like to find out that you’ve been nominated for a Grammy? Well I was scouting a strip club for this video that morning. So success isn’t everything you or your parents might have imagined for yourself. What is the secret to that success you ask? Dedication. There wasn’t time to celebrate and I think we worked until 1 AM that night. Well we had to street cast a stripper and I wasn’t going to leave my director hanging. Can you imagine anything more awkward than attempting to hand over a business card to someone while they are working a pole?

This video didn’t win a Grammy, but it’s the most lauded video I’ve ever produced. (other than the one that did win a Grammy) To think a video made for less than $10k can end up on multiple year end top 10 lists, win Best Music Video at the MVPA Awards, and SXSW kinda blows my mind still. If you want another producing tip, be good to your friends because you never know when you need to call them all in to paint cardboard, learn choreography and stay up on a scaffold for 12 hours. And stay tuned for my top 10 list of videos filmed at The Escarpment!

I have spent most of this decade trying to make something with Isaac Ravishankara. That’s kinda an inside joke, but you know the Hollywood thing where you run into people and say loose promises about how you should work together sometime? Well, I was always serious with him. Then we finally did it, in one take, over two miles, at 40 miles an hour.

You always remember your first Vimeo Staff Pick. Well this was mine as a producer and I couldn’t have shared it with a better bunch of folks that I continue to get to work with to this day. The weird thing about looking back on all of these projects is I wouldn’t even do these ideas today for the budgets that we had. But, we did it? And they didn’t suck. So moral of the story-- we’re all old. Also, the best director is the one who stays with you in pitch black night as you jump start a cube truck in the middle of nowhere.

I almost put “Alive” on this list because I’ll probably always break up my autobiography as “Before Sia” and “After Sia.” Working with her and Dan really changed my life that much. However, this video is just a little more special to me. We shot it over my birthday, 49 kids sang to me, and it’s one of those videos that looks simple, yet required so much craft to pull off. You try to get 49 kids through make up, hair, wardrobe, and school at the same time.

Overall, I think what I’m getting at here is-- producing is the best and also the worst. You stress out for at least a week and you survive on some relative level. You can’t help to think why you’re doing this or why you would ever do it again. But, every so often everything lines up and you create something memorable. Like when a real fire truck drives past your permitted police lock up and attempts to pull your cast out of your fake low budget car accident. You live for that and stories you can tell afterward.

Thanks to all of these directors, the crews, the cast, the commissioners, the artists for the memories.

Jason Baum is a music video producer and director based in Los Angeles.

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