Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The future's open wide.

As of a few moments ago, my old and dear friend Steve Berra's website, The Berrics is hosting the world premiere of my band's latest video, "Must Be The One".

It is a video I directed, and since all of the principal "actors" are actual skateboarders, it's fitting that it debut on the largest skateboarding website in the world.

There is a funny back-story to mine and Berra's relationship and how we came to know one another nearly two decades ago, but I'll let him tell that story....

I can't stress enough how pleased I am that this video which I'm so very proud of is premiering on a website I spend so much time looking at and deeply respect. I was actually kind of surprised when Steve agreed to post it, I mean, after all, there isn't much skating in it (Though the extended cut which will be out in a few weeks will have some serious bangers from the leads, Casey, Nakel, Sagan, as well as Cash, Lui, Lucien and some other homies as well as some cameos from some very cool kids and friends of ours who didn't make the tight narrative edit of the video), and though it's shot at the North Hollywood Skate Plaza, all you really see is kids skating, not really doing tricks or anything heavy - but after Berra saw it what was clear was that he connected with the feeling of the piece...he totally understood what it was I was going for and he felt it.

To me what's important about the video is that it's real, at least a type of reality. It features real people. Real skaters, real girls - real kids, not actors or models, in fact, with the exception of two people, all of the stars are people who are either good friends or connected to me in one way or another, some even the children of my friends.

It had to be this way. The video I was trying to make was about kids being real. Not necessarily in the way we're accustomed to seeing kids behave, but in the way kids behave when no one's looking - when we're not worried about how we look, if we're being cool or sticking to the script of what's hip or not. I wanted to show the excitement of a crush, a first kiss, the nervous feeling in your stomach when you get that call or text that he or she is there, and the ensuing anxiety of what to wear.

I envisioned a somewhat idealistic view of the quintessential California experience of youth.

Call it a webisode, a commercial for youth, a postcard of the San Fernando Valley - more than anything there was a tone and feeling I was trying to achieve, and with the help of a great team of people, I feel that we did just that.

It was of course, all anchored by the song that we wrote, cause after all it's a music video, but it had to be more than just that, cause when you first hear the song it feels like it should be playing over the end credits of a film, perhaps a teen love story, perhaps a coming of age movie, maybe both.

So when I was lying in bed in Aspen, Colorado thinking about all of these things in preparation for the video shoot that was less than a week away, it was only natural that it hit me like a bolt of lightning; Deborah Foreman, the Texas born beauty who embodied the San Fernando Valley like no one before or since in her portrayal of Julie Richmond in the motion picture, Valley Girl.

Suddenly I realized that the scene in my video where the girls were getting ready to head to the skatepark and meet up with the boys was missing one vital ingredient - the mom - and what could be cooler than having Deborah Foreman play her? It would be a nod and homage to Colleen Camp playing Deborah's mother in Valley Girl - not only the single most important film of my childhood (whose soundtrack influenced my ideas about music, whose story told me all I needed to know about love at all costs, and whose theme song, "Melt With You" was played at my very own wedding when I stepped on the glass to cheers of Mazel Tov…but I digress.). More to the point, this was a film that undoubtedly echoed throughout the album my bandmate and I had just completed, our love letter to the place we grew up, Valleyheart.

I sat up in bed and thought to myself, "If Julie Richmond was in my video, it would not only be completely full circle with her playing the mom and riffing on the scene where her and Stacey get ready before the big party at the beginning of the film, but it would be the cherry on top of what was already shaping up to be a video that put visuals to the sound and feeling of a full day and night in the San Fernando Valley in the summertime. Meta to say the least.

With my mind going 100 miles an hour I Googled her and found out that not only was she a Pilates instructor living in Los Angeles, but that she was even more stunning than ever.

And the kicker - her email was on her website.

"Dude", I said across the room to Adam who I was bunking with while attending the Winter X-Games, "Deborah Foreman....I'm gonna get Deborah Foreman to be in the video".

I don't remember his exact response, and though he loved the idea, he probably felt as I did, that it was a great idea, but too bad it will never happen.

I returned to LA, got back to my life and pre-production for the video, and though I mentioned the idea to my wife, I didn't dare do anything about it. The idea of cold-calling one of your heroes can be terrifying, and though I honestly knew she simply HAD to be in it, I did nothing - that is until two days before the shoot date.

As I sat down sometime around midnight and went over my shotlist, casting photos and visual references, I said to myself, "Fuck it", and wrote a very long, very honest, letter to Ms. Foreman.

I told her everything.

I told her that Adam and I grew up in the Valley and just how much her film inspired us and helped shape who we were as individuals and as a band, I told her that I knew of every single movie she'd ever done, including The Experts, I told her all about the concept behind Valleyheart, and that the album cover, album title, and the feeling within probably owes a debt to her and her performance in the film that had changed our lives, I told her that I knew every single frame, line, song cue, beat and moment from Valley Girl, and that there was literally no one who knew this film like I did.

And finally, I told her that at the risk of sounding incredibly presumptuous, that I would do for her what Quentin had done for Travolta and what P.T.A. had done for Phillip Baker Hall, that if she wanted to return to acting, that this was the way to do it, and I was going to not only reintroduce her to the world, but that I would do so in a way that was deserving of her legacy, her beauty and her talent.

I can't put into words how it felt when I heard the "ding" of my Mac Mail and saw the message in the inbox from Debby Foreman.

A few emails later and she agreed to do it, saying, "why not, I'm in", and I was the luckiest boy in the world, on the verge of tears as I said over and over to my wife, "can you even believe this?” while we sat in bed tripping the fuck out that this was actually happening.

When I set my mind to something it usually happens, that is if it's meant to be.

It's always been that way.

I immediately got on the phone with Adam and we shared a very meaningful, "wow" moment.

The next day I called Debby (as she prefers to be called), and heard the laugh I'd known since I was 10 years old.

Then it struck me - I was speaking to Julie Richmond, the first girl I ever fell in love with.

Two days later when I answered the knock on my front door, there she was. The same face, the same was truly dazzling.

Everyone on my team had their own Debby experience, Adam, Stefanie, Brooke, Ari, Matt....I mean, how could you not? The original Valley Girl was in my living room - the same place that houses every lobby card ever produced, the framed movie poster, the framed LP, and the wedding portrait taken moments after Stefanie and I kissed for the first time as man and wife to Randy and Julie's getaway music.

Around 7:30 AM, everyone had their coffee and got into wardrobe, and I spent some time going over what I had planned. I handed Debby and the girls a little 9-page scene I'd written a few hours before in the middle of the night. Debby laughed, asked if she was meant to memorize this in the hour before we began shooting and I told her no, it was merely a reference for the action.

When it came time to shoot her, it was no less than magical. Watching her on the monitor and directing her was a dream come true. She had the same sparkle, charm, sweetness, and sense of humor that made so many of us fall in love with her when we first saw her on the screen.

I simply cannot wait to release the long form extended cut with audio. Don't get me wrong, everything that is so wonderful about her comes through from the moment she enters frame (and what an entrance it is), but when you hear the dialogue between her and the girls, it's amazing - so real, so true, and so, so Debby.

When she left the set we handed her a bouquet of flowers and hugged goodbye, Adam did a little interview, snapped some photos, and off she went, but when she drove off, we knew watching Valley Girl would never be the same again, yes it would still be one of the most important films of our lives, but now it had taken on a different meaning.

Since then Adam and I have become friends with Debby, and we don't take that lightly.

I plan to make good on my promise to make her a star again, and she and I are looking forward to working together on several other projects I have planned. She is my muse, and how fucking lucky am I?

Adam and I have probably mentioned the soundtrack and film Valley Girl over a hundred times in interviews and it's actually something we discussed as a touchstone the first time we ever sat down to make music together, but never in a million years did we think that Deborah Fucking Foreman would be appearing in a music video of ours, let alone someone we talk to daily on Twitter.

Life is funny like that.

In the end, Valleyheart is a record about who we are and where we come from, and this video is a little piece of that.

I hope you enjoy it

Thank you to everyone who made it possible, especially Debby.

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