Shooting a music video with drunk people

Photo by Chris Brown 07
A few years ago the awesome Four Wheel Drive got in touch about a music video. Their idea was for us to follow them on a night out and document what crazy drunken antics ensue. This would have been cool but we naturally started to talk about how to inject a narrative other than just the chronology of the night.

Over quite a few pub meetings we went through all kinds of far out ideas (including building a fake hotel room and setting fire to it) and eventually settled upon quite an elaborate plot where the lead singer Jamie (who at the time always wore a red leather jacket) would get tangled up with a wild woman (played by Gina Snake) who nips out of the pub to buy more drugs and in the process of getting arrested, ends up beating up the undercover police man. Unfortunately for Jamie, she does this while wearing his red leather jacket. Obviously we used the red as a warning and not only tried to keep all of the extras away from any red clothes but also had Dan Baxter play with this red in the grading. The idea is that you get hammered, do stupid stuff, then get hammered again, kind of like Ground Hog Day!
Hopefully as you watch the video you’ll want to crack open a beer and get hammered.

The whole video was shot on location at The Big Red where the band had a residency. Not only was Ben (the owner/manager) hugely patient with us (it wasn’t a closed set, the bar was open to the public as normal), but the bar itself is a great venue. The layout just works, everyone there is friendly, it’s pretty easy to get to and they have free live music!
Photo by Chris Brown 04
Drink, lots of drink
We talked about the band and extras drinking apple juice instead of whisky and not only did it seem a bit naff but also non of the band or extras are actors so it would be obvious that they weren’t drunk, let alone hammered. And so after the pub opened and we had sorted out a few bits and Dan Baxter, Rachael Tasker and I had one last meticulous read through of my treatment and shot list, we started shooting and the band began drinking, at 2pm.
We shot the video entirely in chronological order partly because of the light but mostly because of the alcohol. There were plenty of occasions where we would spend 15 minutes setting up a shot while the cast mingled then shout “action” and expect them to drink, cheers together, neck shots and down entire pints of beer. Consequently by about 3.30pm most of them were completely hammered.
Photo by Adam Berry 04
Photo by Chris Brown 09
Rachael Tasker was with us on hand for crowd control (she is a primary school teacher) and was a huge help, we wouldn’t have got any of our narrative shots if it wasn’t for Rachael rallying people together, giving them water, making sure they were in the right place. She actually makes a cameo as one of the barmaids pulling a pint in the first chorus.

The fight scene
The climax of the video, where the girl beats up the policeman was a straight forward scene with a handful of angles but made so difficult by the weather. It had unexpectedly started snowing, on February the 20th!
It was a nice relief to work with Adam Berry (undercover policeman), for a start he was sober and also an experienced actor, used to taking direction. He was so professional, he was totally down for getting smashed in the face with a sugar glass bottle and even refused to lie on a towel and yoga matt for the shot where he gets kicked.
Photo by Chris Brown 03
Photo by Chris Brown 01
The Police
Like most unsigned bands, Four Wheel Drive were not rolling in money but we were SOOOO glad that they forked out for the police costumes. They were super authentic and really cheap (maybe £150 for the pair), the only requirement was that they were not to be worn in a public area. The pub is open to the public but a private establishment so we were golden. The uniforms totally sold that scene and even on set we would all catch ourselves doing double takes at the two guys dressed up as policemen, they totally looked like real policemen!
Photo by Adam Berry 05
By 9pm we were exhausted and we had the shots, it was an amazing day and really great to see our vision come together in the edit. All of the band and extras were so unbelievably professional, resilient and determined, when we shouted drink, they drank.
Gina Snake deserves a special mention because she was pretty much the star of the video and never complained or even hesitated when we asked her to do some pretty weird things like dance on the bar, punch someone in the face, kiss someone, lick someone, smash a bottle over someone’s head, down another drink and of course looks great on screen.

Post production
I wanted the edit to be energetic but I wanted room to make it even more manic in each chorus. Obviously I cut hard and fast but I also sped up a few of the shots to give them an extra sense of confusion. As we planned the shoot so thoroughly the edit was quite straight forward and the whole thing came together really nicely. Going through all of the footage was quite amusing, I left in a few clips where people drop their drink, can you see how many drinks get dropped?
Dan Baxter did some very subtle VFX to add police lights to my mums car, a police car approaching from afar and some extra rain/snow. He then coloured the whole piece for a hard look with a little grain, just like when you’re hammered!

We filmed almost all of the video on a Canon 5DmkII and used a 550D for the slomo because our 5DmkII (kindly lent by Nick Kent) only did 24 or 30 frames per second at the time. Almost all of it was shot on a shoulder rig I had built with a handful of shots on an 8 foot jib.
We lit the whole thing with one 500 watt tungsten light (operated by Dan Baxter), mostly shot through a photographic diffusion umbrella and just moved it around the bar to act as a kicker against the practical lighting already there.
Photo by Chris Brown 06
24-70mm f/2.8
50mm f/1.2
85mm f/1.2
70-200mm f/2.8
Kit for Hammered Again music video
As expected, the band were totally chuffed with it and threw a launch party at The Intrepid Fox, Soho which we attended and got properly hammered to a great response by all.
Photo by Adam Berry 04
All behind the scenes photos taken by Chris Brown and Adam Berry.

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