No Switchfoot video since “Awakening” has brooked as much… discussion? as “The Original”. It seemed reactions were all across the board – wildly enthusiastic to underwhelmed. But either way, it was definitely an unique, creative and engrossing video. Many folks were curious about the story-behind-the-video, so we felt it was time for an LOBH Exclusive Interview with the director, Bryan Janson. Read on to find out all the behind-the-scenes info!
Land Of Broken Hearts (LOBH): Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We asked our site visitors to submit their questions for you then chose our favorites for this interview. First – and I think this is a question that almost everyone wants to know - How’d you come up with the idea for the video? What inspired the concept?
Bryant Janson: Well, first and foremost it was inspired by the song. I knew I wanted to do something fun, quirky, and somewhat (no pun intended) original. I was also pretty inspired by the parts of LA that are filled with nature and beauty, but overshadowed by the gigantic city. I feel like not many people know these places exist. I had a very specific location in mind for the video originally, and there are many homeless people who live in that area. I wrote the story around someone who would call a place like that home, and how they would deal with someone who lives in the more urban area next to them (We ended up not being able to shoot at the original location because of the weather, so we scrambled and found a great area in Elysian Park that had a similar feel). I wanted the two main characters to be as different as possible. The story was basically just a classic schoolyard challenge between these characters, but I tried to give their interactions a weird and comedic immaturity.
LOBH: Is this video what came to your mind after listening to the song?
Bryant Janson: Not originally, but after listening to it a few times I thought that type of vibe would fit the video pretty well. Hopefully people think it fits the song.
LOBH: Is the protagonist homeless or living off the grid?
Bryant Janson: I think that really depends on how you define homeless. He clearly has a home, but it’s just not what most would consider to be ideal in a place like LA. I think the character would say he is living off the grid, but I feel like most people would call him homeless if they saw him.
LOBH: What do the mirrors mean?
Bryant Janson: In the end, that’s up to the viewer to decide. I wanted to show the strong man as a fairly vain person, and watching yourself do bicep curls through a hand mirror is pretty vain. It’s also a good way to annoy your neighbor.
LOBH: What thought process went into the casting for this video?
Bryant Janson: I wanted to find interesting people who fit the roles visually. I was incredibly lucky to find the actors that I did. I want give a huge thank you to Neal Polister, Robert Rexx, and Belinda Bates for doing such a great job.
LOBH: Why did you chose to shoot all in slow-motion considering thehigh-octane feel of the song?
Bryant Janson: I think slow motion makes the mundane feel epic and exaggerated, and I wanted to really exaggerate this story. Plus I think funny things are even more funny slowed down. I wanted the fast pace to come from editing and jump cuts. Also, I wanted the few shots that weren’t in slow motion to have more of an impact.
LOBH: In talking with Chad, he talked about how they had asked several directors to do treatments for the video, so I’m assuming that’s why the guys didn’t appear in the video – but a lot of people asked the following: “Is there a reason why the Switchfoot guys aren’t in the video?” Can you elaborate a little bit more on that?
Bryant Janson: I was asked to write a treatment for the video that didn’t include the band, so I think that was the band’s choice.
LOBH: Is there a specific message you wanted to get across, and if so what was it?
Bryant Janson: Don’t be a jerk, or someone will beat you in a bike race.
LOBH: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Bryant Janson: I had a lot of fun on the whole shoot, but I would have to say that Robert throwing the cement pieces, logs, and shopping cart was probably my favorite setup of the day. It was super funny.
LOBH: What is something you personally were able to learn/take away from this particular directing experience?
Bryant Janson: I am a Director of Photography typically, so this really was the first time I directed anything (I have co-directed one or two music videos, but never by myself). I learned a lot. I work with cameras for a living so I am pretty comfortable with that side of the process. The biggest learning experience for me was in communicating with the actors and dealing more with that side of things. I was really lucky to have such a great crew that made everything work so well during our crazy day of shooting.
LOBH: How long have you been filming videos?
Bryant Janson: I have been doing film stuff since I was in Highschool. We would make short films, film skateboarding, etc. I guess I just kept doing it and realized I could do it professionally. I went to Film School in Montana and discovered that I love cameras and lighting. After school I moved down to LA to try and become a Director of Photography. I have been shooting music videos fairly often for the past couple years, along with commercials and the occasional movie.
LOBH: What got you interested in this particular field?
Bryant Janson: I just love cameras, lighting and storytelling. I very first became interested because I wanted to learn how to make skateboard videos with my friends. I quickly realized I wanted to make movies.
LOBH: What are your future projects?
Bryant Janson: I have some exciting music videos coming up with some great directors, a feature film fairly soon, and some commercials in there too. I’ve also been shooting a documentary that is in post production right now. With the way this industry works, it pretty difficult to even look very far in the future though. My website: www.bryantjansen.com, and my google+ page are places to check out some of my stuff (though I’m in the process of updating and redesigning those).
LOBH: As a bonus, we have 3 questions we ask to everyone we interview: 1. What’s the best advice you’ve even been given?
Bryant Janson: Know something about everything, and everything about something.
LOBH: 2. What’s one song you wish you had written and why?
Bryant Janson: “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby – because it’s supposedly the highest grossing single of all time. (I know thats a cop-out, but I like too many songs to answer fairly)
LOBH: 3. What’s one question you’ve never been asked and the answer?
Bryant Janson: This one.
LOBH: Thanks for your time Bryant and good luck on all your future endeavors!
To read more LOBH Exclusive Interviews, click right HERE!