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Tom's Music Videos Of Doom - the first music video industry sitcom?
The word from Hollywood is that David Fincher's latest project is a TV show: a comedy series that he's executive producing about the American music video industry in the 1980s. That's certainly something he knows a lot about, but it appears that the great man has been beaten to the punch. Someone has already recognised the huge comic potential of the music video biz.
Released as a web series of bite-sized episodes at the back end of last year, Tom's Music Videos Of Doom is quite possibly the first music video industry-based sitcom, all about Tom and his hapless and humiliating experiences trying to establish a foothold as a music video director.
Whether the music is glam rock, rap, or German electronica, the weird behaviour of the wannabe superstars he's working for always spells disaster for his low budget shoots. To make matters worse, his ex-girlfriend Molly has now hooked up with a very successful and smug directing rival. Unlucky Tom seems destined to make Music Videos of Doom forever.
Tom's Music Videos Of Doom is written and directed by Kirsty Eyre, and photographed and edited by her partner Adam Simcox of Uncanny Films. It was Adam's experiences at the budget end of music video production, working with all manner of interesting characters, that inspired Kirsty - an experienced comedy writer and performer on the Edinburgh Fringe – to write the series.
The comedy in the entertaining series - which add up to about the length of a half-hour comedy pilot - will chime with a lot of other people too. In fact, TMVOD is probably a must-see for anyone who has been involved in making music videos - and highly recommended for anyone else with similar aspirations.
We talked to Kirsty and Adam - who are now looking to continue Tom's adventures in music videoland by raising finance for a second season.
PROMO: Kirsty, TMVOD was inspired by witnessing Adam’s making some low-budget videos for bands advertising on Gumtree. When was the moment you thought: 'this would make a good comedy'?
KIRSTY: One of Adam's earlier shoots involved a glam rock band mock-performing their latest track in a hipster hole in Hoxton. As the conversation with the lead singer meandered from the shoot itself into whether he could be carried on a chaise longue by pigmies in slave gear, I knew that this was comedy gold. The band themselves were fantastic musicians, which lead to a follow-up music video shoot in which I wasn't involved as there was not enough space in the venue - a limousine packed full of odd characters including a flower fairy and an inebriated dwarf. Again, you couldn't write it. Or maybe you could...
ADAM: Kirsty is always looking for an opportunity to gently mock my life, and this was definitely a great opportunity to do just that.
Tom is a realistic character who finds himself in humiliating situations. How accurate a representation of making music videos, from your perspective?
A: I've personally found it to be more frustrating than humiliating (although humiliation is often tapping on the door, asking for a hearing). No matter how meticulously planned a shoot is, when you've got a low budget it's always a challenge. A good one, though; the cliche about using the lack of resources to aid your creativity is undoubtedly true. You don't need a gold-plated Lear jet and a case of thousands to make a good music video, just a strong narrative structure and a bucketload of passion. (Though I am willing to sell out on this belief if anyone has the appropriate budget. In a second).
Was it always the plan to make bite-sized episodes?
K: No, I originally wrote six full length episodes (25 minutes running time), which enabled a core set of characters to journey through various music video shoots (a different band per episode) with a stronger plot and bigger backstory. Rather than shoot one full length episode we thought that a mini series would be a better way of showcasing the sitcom's potential and would be more suited to the web in terms of our audience being able to watch in five minute snatches, for example on the way to work. I'm not yet sure whether we got that right or wrong.
A: There was a lot of back and forth on whether to do a one-off, 30 minute pilot, six full length episodes, or what we delivered, which was five shorter episodes. There's arguments for and against, but I think as a teaser, the shorter episodes work the best. And it was still a massive undertaking; I'd just finished directing and editing our first feature film, and this was just as much work! The sheer number of characters and locations meant it was a huge project to be involved in.
When did you shoot it?
K: We shot the majority of the pilot series in April and May 2014. Shooting then had to grind to a halt as Adam and I had a production of our own, our second son, born in July. In November we shot the German electronic scenes of the final episode, which Adam directed whilst I was directed by our toddler and baby. They definitely wear the trousers.
A: Our production company's first feature, Kid Gloves, was shot when Kirsty was pregnant with our first child (and some of it after he was born), so I genuinely can't remember what it's like to embark on one of these projects without a baby calling the shots. They're tougher than any producer I've ever worked with. And are a lot more likely to be sick on you.
You want to make more episodes – can you give an idea of the Videos of Doom you’re planning for Tom?
K: We would LOVE to make more episodes. The plan is to introduce a potential slow-burner love interest for Tom in the form of crew, who is the exact antithesis of Molly. Tom takes on a self obsessed and heavily airbrushed girlband, a heavily exploited boyband and 'the odd couple' before finally being propositioned by Molly to take a role on arch nemesis Smug Guy's film set. Will Tom 'make it' or will he be forever doomed?
A: With working on this and commercial projects, I only got to direct one music video last year, so I need to do more this year to stock up on inspiration. Not that any commission editors or bands should be put off by that...
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