The story behind the video
I posted a brief description about the “This Day” music video when I released it a few weeks ago but I wanted to follow it up with a bit more of the back story here on the blog. There were so many events that had to take place over the years before I could produce this video and this great depth is revealed to me every time I watch the video, to the point that it truly made for an emotional process when I edited the video. To start with the song “This Day” is about enjoying each and every day, savoring them as best you can, for the time you spend today will be the memories you cherish tomorrow. With that in mind, when it came time to put visual imagery to the music, I was truly fortunate when I found what I think is the perfect marriage of images to the music for this particular song.
Some years ago (1930’s?) my grandfather purchased a Super 8 camera to shoot home movies of the family and to take along on his upcoming trip to the Chicago world’s fair. Over the course of ten or fifteen years the camera was used on occasion and I would imagine in total there were around 30 film canisters processed and left behind for the family.
My grandfather passed away not long after most of these films were shot. My father was only five at the time and the camera was passed on to my uncle who carried on the tradition of filming with the camera for a few more years. Eventually he stopped using the camera, either his preferred format changed or the camera stopped working all together, I’m not sure which. The films, the film projector and even the camera itself survived and were all passed on to my father.
I remember when I was young, my father would pull out the film projector on the weekends and the family would gather together in our living room and watch the films on the big projection screen. I can still remember the feel and the smells of what it was like when we pulled the rolls of film out of their steel canisters and threaded them onto the projector. We’d watch them for hours and then carefully store them away again for another time. This went on up until I was about to enter high school. I had a cousin that was working for a film developing company at the time and she found out about a company that could transfer the films onto VHS tape. After packing up all the films and shipping them off, a year or so later we received a copy of the VHS tape in the mail with all of the old Super 8 movies transferred safely to the new medium. While it was certainly more convenient to watch, I did miss the ceremony of pulling that old projector out and setting it up. Having them projected onto the big screen in the living room had a much bigger effect than our little tube TV of the day. Also, much to my distaste was the music that the company that transferred the films to tape had added to the VHS tape, it truly was the most generic, canned sounding, vanilla, elevator music you could imagine. For me, it actually made them quite hard to watch because the music annoyed me so. The only way I could enjoy them was by turning the volume down on the TV.
Flash forward another twenty years and I found myself in my studio in Austin Texas, figuring out a way to transfer the VHS tape onto my computer. After wrestling with installing a video card that had a video capture option, I managed to digitize the VHS tape. I ended up with about 12 gigabytes of video to sort through and I made big plans of how I was going to make DVD’s for the family. A task I still need to accomplish and maybe this blog will get me going on that again. I did at least begin to organize the footage into categories. When the footage was transferred there was no real rhyme or reason as to how the footage progressed. I’m sure they just pulled the next reel out of the box and added it to the transfer as they went along. Many of the reels would also have multiple subjects and locations, jumping from place to place and vacation to vacation. For me the most enjoyable footage was shot at our family’s Tennessee Mountain home and at my grandparents’ house in Nashville. So I started pulling this material together and organizing it a bit. Once I did that the notion of finally being able to replace the music on the VHS occurred to me. So I started dropping in some new recordings like Madeleine Peyroux and other jazz flavored songs that seemed to add a deeper meaning to the footage. It was after I had compiled and organized a couple of videos that the notion of putting some of the footage to one of my own songs first occurred to me. At the time I was fully entrenched in editing the “For the World to See” and “The Dove” music videos for the Transformation CD, so I pretty much put the idea on the shelf for awhile.
Finally about a month or two ago, with the new band rehearsed and ready for our first show I decided it was probably time to put out another music video from the album. It didn’t immediately come back to me and I even considered doing videos for a few of the other songs on the album but no ideas were really gelling. Then I remembered the Super 8 footage and it just seemed so natural that the song that was meant for this footage was “This Day”.
The editing process happened very fast. Since I had already compiled and organized the footage, all I had to do was shoot the footage of me singing the song and playing the guitar lead. All of which was done in a matter of a few hours. There wasn’t a great need for too much of me in the video; just enough that it would essentially make it feel more like a promotional music video. There are probably many family members that would have preferred if I left myself out of it all together. Well, that’s just another reason for me to get that DVD done for the family.
So if any of you have old home movies out there, while they may not be very fun sometimes to watch if you’re in them; your children’s children will probably really appreciate having them. For me, the super 8 movies that were filmed by my grandfather, a man that I never had the chance to meet, are one of the only connections to him I have. So for this I am extremely thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! – John