Voodoo Magic: Story of a Shoot

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I just released the music video for my song “Voodoo Magic Man”, and I can’t quite believe we pulled it off. Getting to the finished product was a long series of twists, uncertainties and last minute crises. Somehow it all came together and everything found its place. You could say it was luck …or maybe a bit of magic.

It all started about a month ago when I had coffee with my friend and filming genius Ed. I had an idea for a new music video and wanted to hash out the details and see if he would be interested in working on it. Over excellent coffee, tea, and chocolate at Thierry’s Patisserie, we came up with a plan. I left with a list of things to procure: location, people, props, wardrobe, and equipment.

The next three weeks were a frantic rush of details. We needed extras to pose as patrons in a jazz bar, so I posted a casting call. We needed a convincing male lead to provide the compelling seduction of the Voodoo Magic Man. That was a tall order… and by tall I mean more than 6’2”, since I am not a small woman. More casting call announcements.

The other tricky thing was finding a location. I had already done a fair amount of research on possible filming locations, but one stood out luminously in my imagination. A bar called Prohibition, at the five- star Hotel Georgia. I had only seen pictures of it online. Convinced it was probably impossible, I decided to do a solo reconnaissance mission. I went down to that bar, bought myself a martini, and quizzed the bartender about whom I needed to convince to let me film there. He eventually put me in touch with the right person.

Still, it took nearly three weeks of daily back and forth emails and phone calls to Prohibition. I knew filming there was a very long shot, and had a back-up list of locations ready to go. Getting a final “yes” or “no” took longer than expected, and I was under pressure to finalise the location and the shoot date. I was at the point where I knew I would have to go ahead and book another location that day, when I got an email from them with permission to film. I was ecstatic! It was a huge win.

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The second piece of the puzzle was getting a leading man. A friend of mine heard about my problem and put me in touch with a fabulous actor who was not local, but happened to be in town. He was perfect—and he agreed to take on the role. With a list of extras complete, a leading man, and a trio of musicians, I was all set to film. Or so I thought.

In the days leading up to the shoot I obsessed about every detail. Did the drummer know he needed to bring his drum kit? When I contacted him to make sure, I found out he didn’t have one. Quickly, I asked the pianist (also a drummer elsewhere) to bring his kit, as well as his keyboard. And then I bought some drumsticks.

05:50 am. I woke up to my alarm, ready for the big day. The first thing I saw on my phone was a message from the pianist. He was sick and not coming. Neither were the keyboard and drum kit he was supposed to bring. I was down a band, and the day had just started.

I threw on my clothes and packed my car with all the gear, wardrobe and food we needed on set. Hitting the road at 6:15, my mind was whirling. What was I going to do if I had only an upright bass player? I sent a quick text to Ed. “We may have to get very creative on set today. We are missing a band.” I spent the next two hours sitting in the make-up chair, getting face and hair prepped for filming.

8:15 am. Another friend, who was helping with the shoot called me. “How is it going?” she asked innocently. “Well actually,” I said, “we have a situation.” My friend Ruth is incredible. In a few short questions she absorbed the situation and began working on a solution. “I’m on it,” she said. Mission instant band had begun. Who were we going to get before 10:30 on a Sunday morning?

I spent the rest of the session sending messages and fielding calls while my somewhat exasperated make-up artist (my sister Edina) tried to do her job. “You can’t be on your phone all the time”, she said.

9:45 am. We were leaving for the set and I had a pianist.

10:45 am When Ruth arrived on set she informed me we had a drummer on the way. Incredible. I enlisted the original drummer, who was very well dressed, as the bartender, while my new drummer set up his kit on stage. “I don’t have drumsticks” he said. “Well as it happens, I do” I replied. Standing in the gorgeous interior of the bar I began to think this was going to work after all.

I pulled out the haze machine that Ed had suggested we rent for this shoot. “Did you get them to show you how to use that thing?” he asked. Uh oh. “No”, I said. “Good luck!” he replied. Having come this far, I was NOT going to be thwarted by a machine. How hard could it be? I plugged it in and pushed all the promising buttons. Nothing seemed to be happening. More buttons, more switches. No sign of life. Sighing, I walked away to attend to more urgent matters. People were asking me where they needed to be. When I returned to the haze machine I decided to pick it up and move it closer to the stage, on the off chance that it was still warming up. When I put it down on the ground– rather heavily– a plume of hazy fumes came gushing out the front. “It lives!” I shouted, fists raised in victory.

11:15 am We were ready to go. With a crew of friends, friends of friends, and people who were fast becoming friends, we started to shoot.

I had a vision for the look and feel of this video, and somehow, despite many bumps in the road, it was becoming reality in front of me. It felt like being in a waking dream. Strange, unpredictable, and a bit magical.

To watch the finished version, click below.

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