"Black Hole" is the first music video off of singer-songwriter Rob Falgiano's new CD Nice Mouth. It was directed by Tom McDade for Honey + Punch. This is Rob and Tom's third collaboration. McDade previously directed the video for "Hello Radio" off Rob's 2010 CD All Star Heart, and "Sleigh Ride" by Rob's previous group Plaster Sandals in 1996, for Media Play's annual local bands Christmas CD. Full biographies can be found at the end of this release, plus several photos from the shoot.
ROB'S FILMING NOTES:
A friend of Tom's owns a home in Angola overlooking Lake Erie, so he suggested we shoot the video on the frozen lake in January. A long wooden staircase (pictured in the video) takes you from the house down to the beach. Tom assembled a four-man film crew and a photographer to document the shoot. They started filming early on a Saturday morning, but my arrival call wasn't until the afternoon. Tom's girlfriend Melanie Morse was the star of the morning shoot, representing the memory of a past love. Weeks prior, Tom took me through his ideas for wardrobe, including her bright orange jacket. I agreed that the splash of color would pop great against the wintery white and grey. When I arrived they'd just finished Mel's portion. The crew were gathered back inside the cozy house to have a quick lunch.
Snow cleats were distributed and off we went to shoot my stuff. When I looked out on the stark, massive lake I was confident we were going to capture something special. The dunes suggested a lonesome, alien planet. I have written many lonesome, uncomfortably personal songs over the years. I usually feel embarrassed or pathetic when I finish one. Then, for whatever reasons, these are the songs to which people react most favorably, and I use that positive response to perform it with conviction. The original feeling gets converted into something useful and good.
It took all four guys to run the expensive rented camera and lighting. They brought a small generator onto the ice to power a PA speaker through which Tom blasted the song during takes. I introduced myself to the crew. It was important to make an effort to befriend them, even if they maintained distance, because, the more comfortable I felt, the better it would go. With more crew than performers (one!), it's easy to feel self-conscious.
I brought a few strong Belgian beers to cut into my nerves, and sipped one while tuning the guitar. It was my dad's old Gibson that he never learned to play, and that I taught myself on in high school. Tom and I had a brief exchange - we decided my sections of the video would be performed "live." This suited me because I could simply sing and play along to the song in real time and it would hopefully look and feel natural. In performance, I often sing with my eyes closed because it helps me focus on pitch. There was the added benefit of being less aware of the camera. Now I kind of understand why rock stars wear sunglasses in videos even though it makes them look like they're trying to be cool. I bet many of them are simply nervous.
The song sounded really good to me on playback. I hadn't listened to it much since finishing the CD. When you work on a record you eventually lose all perspective because you hear it so many times while recording and trying to perfect it. A 5-minute song can easily require 40-50 hours of recording, editing and mixing. I only find out how good or bad my recordings are a few years after they're done, when I return to them more like a stranger.
We shot several takes of me singing on various spots on the ice. I loved the isolation. It perfectly matches the song. No one was outside but us; no one watched nearby.
On a personal level, Tom and I aren't super close, though neither are we far. I think there's a mutual artistic respect that allows us to work together. There are limits to the amount of suggestions I can make to him without creating discomfort, but I accepted that in asking him to direct the video because he has talent. He was enthusiastic when I asked if he wanted to work on this particular song. That was enough.
As the late afternoon slid into evening we moved to another location down the lake, but it was raining too heavily and the camera was uncooperative. No one lost focus though. There was a calm vibe throughout.
When night fell the crew lit a large, pre-built bonfire on the ice. It was raining steadily so it took some time to catch. A fair amount of gasoline was added before it went up. Then we shot a few more takes in the rain. Again, I was confident this footage would look good if I performed decently. The dramatic mood was palpable.
When Tom was satisfied with my takes I went back up to the house to dry off. The crew stayed on the lake for another hour to try to get additional footage, but it had already been a long day and the weather was worsening. When they came back we had some beer and tasty pasta, cooked by Melanie's mom, who'd put out other snacks. The crew sat on the floor, continuing to play with the expensive rented camera that had to be returned in a few days. They were planning to do some shooting of their own for a separate project the next day.
Tom sent me a rough cut about a month later and I was impressed and excited. He continued to refine it into the late spring, returning to the lake to shoot additional exterior footage. Towards the end of the process we got together and did some final tweaks.
I'm really glad we shot a video for this song. I think it's one of my stronger ones, and Tom did a great job.
Born and raised in Kenmore, Tom moved to Los Angeles after college where he worked in many areas of the film industry, including as an actor, cinematographer, and director. Later while living in New York City, Tom discovered a love for editing. He was most recently the Senior Editor and Director of Production at the lifestyle television network called MOJO-HD. Tom now lives in Buffalo and has his own production and development company called Honey + Punch. His clients include: Proctor and Gamble, Energizer, Sentry Safe and Northtown Auto. www.honeyandpunch.com
Born is Buffalo, Rob is one of city's most prolific songwriters, with a steady stream of 8 CD releases since 1994. He has sold thousands of records regionally. Rob's music has been used on several TV shows: "Felicity" (WB), "The Black Donnellys" (NBC), "Everwood" (CW-ABC Family), "Friday Night Lights" (NBC), "Jack and Bobby" (WB), and "Dude I Just Want My Pants Back" (MTV). Opening slots for more than a dozen national acts include: Jakob Dylan, Ingrid Michaelson, Matthew Good Band, Ron Hawkins, Nickel Creek, Spirit of the West, Chris Trapper, 10,000 Maniacs, & Goo Goo Dolls. Rob has been nominated for more than a dozen Buffalo Music Awards, winning twice. www.robfalgiano.com
Tom / Rob consultation
Rob and Tom on the moon
Tom and the crew
Mel in action
Tom and Mel
Making it happen
Is There Anybody Out There?
Fire and Rain, On Ice
That's a wrap
Post-shoot: mesmerized by the $40,000 toy