Pub Rants

The How Behind the Perfect Chemistry Rap Video

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STATUS: I’m thinking of relocating my agency to the Cayman Islands. Ack. When I left the Caribbean yesterday, it was 80 degrees and sunny. Luscious blue water. When I landed in Denver, it was -4 degrees. Yes, you read that right. Setting all kinds of records here. The high today was 15 degrees.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan

By request, Simone guest blogs about how the video was made.

I thought about doing the video right after I sold PERFECT CHEMISTRY, which was back in January. So this has been “in the making” for almost a year, although the actual production went very fast (from shooting to finished product was 1.5 weeks – the biggest time suck was the editing that my director did alone)

We actually shot the entire video in 1.5 days.

I hired a Chicago director who has a production company. I’d never met him before, but a friend of mine (Ruth Kaufman, on the RWA board of directors) is an actress and was in a short film he produced. His name is Chris LoDuca. If you want to ask him any questions about cost and software (I’m sure he doesn’t need to be in the same city to do the production) you can email him at chris AT loducacreative.com I told him what I wanted and he gave me his production cost up front. Other costs that were added: the audio/lighting guy, studio rental, 2 actors for one day and 9 actors for one full day, breakfast and lunch for the entire cast, costumes (Gino, the main character playing “Alex” didn’t have any gang clothes so I told him to get some big baggy pants and I seriously said, “I want to see your pants hanging down and your boxers showing” Luckily Gino already had tattoos or I would have him go out and get some! – just kidding) I bought the hat, bandannas for the “gang members”, and the cheerleading outfits for the girls with the pom-poms. I let the cast keep the clothes I bought (I wouldn’t in a million years fit into the cheerleading outfits.)

The entire video was shot in 1.5 days. One half-day of shooting the audio portion with only the two main characters, and the next day the entire cast was there from 8am-3pm. (like all MTV videos and rap videos, the main characters are lip synching. It’s 100% their voices, but you can’t lip sync/dance at the same time or else it won’t come out good.)

Chris had just directed a play in the Chicago suburbs, and the Caucasian actors I hired to be in my video were cast in his play so he’d worked with them before. The “Latino” actors I hired were from a Chicago talent agency that we called. They sent us actor photos and resumes and we set up auditions in their studio. I felt like I was on a reality television show…with the hot lights, the camera taping the applicants, and Chris asking them to rap and dance in front of us. Such pressure for the actors!

I’d never met anyone on the production team or the cast beforehand. We were pretty much all strangers (except the few who had worked on plays with Chris before), but everyone got along great and everyone had a great time and we laughed a good portion of the day.

Umm..what else? Oh, yeah. The rap. I had a teacher who does rap make up a song for me with background music he created. But after Chris my director read an advanced copy of Perfect Chemistry, he said that he didn’t think the rap reflected the book enough. He found new background music online on a site that you buy your choice of a ton of background music for $1.00 and all you have to do is credit the guy who made it on your credits page. I think it was hiphopbeats.com or something like that (it’s listed on the VIDEO page of my website with a link). So Chris made up a NEW rap song, and I LOVED it. I definitely changed about 10 lines and tweaked it, but really Chris wrote most of it. I was really in awe of his multi-talentedness!

Funny and true side story: After he wrote it, Chris and his wife made a little demo of the rap to email to me to see what I thought of it. They were practicing/taping the rap into the microphone attached to their computer when his landlord (who lives below them in their apartment building and is a minister) called and asked if everything was okay,that he heard yelling and fighting coming from their apartment, and asked if they needed his counsling. Chris’ response, “Oh, sorry. My wife and I aren’t fighting. We’re just rapping!”

We were going to shoot on location, but then a week before the shoot decided to do it on a green screen and add in the background. Chris did some of the background shots (some I didn’t like and made him change) and the school/hallway shots and football field background I actually took myself at a high school by my house (I asked permission from the principal to take the pics). I do wish we’d done it on location, but this way was a lot cheaper and easier.


9 Responses

  1. DebraLSchubert said:

    Simone, Fascinating! It sounds like it was so much fun. As I said, in Kristin’s last post, I was a professional rock musician and have done tons of recording, but never a video. I can’t wait to do something like this for my book! (It’s called, “Sparks Fly Sometimes” named after a song I wrote in 1986. So, the music’s done, and the book is almost done. All I need is to get it published and do the video. No problem!)

  2. Maureen McGowan said:

    Thanks for sharing the details Simone! The video is amazing.

    And Kristin… there’s something wacky about the weather these days… You’re below zero in Denver and we were about 50 F in Toronto, today. 🙂

  3. Brooke Taylor said:

    Such an amazing undertaking!

    I love the green screens–I think they make it quirky and fun. The actors were brilliant– such great humor. I’ve watched it like 20 times nows and was singing it last night while putzing around the house, LOL.

  4. Paul West said:

    “When I landed in Denver, it was -4 degrees. Yes, you read that right. Setting all kinds of records here. The high today was 15 degrees.”

    I think that’s called global warming, isn’t it?

  5. BONIFACE said:

    Kristin-

    I stumbled on your blog randomly a month ago and just want to tell you how tremendously helpful it has been. Keep up the good work!

    I do have a question which I have not seen a post on (if there is one, please direct me to it). When n the writing process do you submit a query: before you start to write, when you have a little bit to show, or when the manuscript is complete?

    Thanks! You can email a response to [email protected].

  6. Kimberley Griffiths Little said:

    Thank you so much for posting about the making of this video. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, Simone!

    And I won an ARC from Brooke Taylor on her blog contest! Can’t wait to read and post about your book. Congrats!

  7. Helen DeWitt said:

    Ah.

    Am I alone in being gobsmacked by the turnaround? 1.5 weeks? To produce a video with, you know, a cast? And it takes a publisher a YEAR, or MORE, to get out a book with, um, you know, text? HarperStudio is zeroing in on, we’re told, returns. They don’t like advances, they give the author a bigger chunk of royalties. I notice they’re not offering a 10-day turnaround.