by Richard Thorne

Alae: Making The Video For Hit Me Where It Hurts

by Richard Thorne

Alae: Making The Video For Hit Me Where It Hurts

Today sees the release of the first single/video from a five-track EP that Alae will release in March next year – through AntiGravity, the US label of Canadian songwriter and producer Justin Gray. The first single from an NZ On Air Project Funding, Hit Me Where It Hurts is very likely the song that will get you to sit up and take notice of the Auckland four-piece – and courtesy of its video is very likely one that will stick in your mind as their international career proceeds to blossom in the years ahead.

Made with the help of NZ On Air.

alae mikee carpinterHaving a band manager who happens to own a production company and in his “real job” is a director, editor and colourist of film and TV content, does mean Auckland four-piece Alae have a head start in the music video department. Still, Mikee Carpinter had to pull out several stops and called in a lot of favours with this one.

Five Kiwi directors (Chris Graham, Greg Page, Alexander Gandar, Petra Cilbich and Charlotte Evans) all shot scenes for the video for Hit Me Where It Hurts, footage that Carpinter subsequently edited into a very original, entertaining and surprisingly cohesive music video.

The idea?

“We’ve gone and made a music video for Alae that’s directed by five different directors! It’s a first of its kind for NZ On Air funded videos.” [He checked.] “The idea came from a bottle of wine, watching some World Cup (cricket), and Alae having just signed a deal in America – as soon as you do something like sign a deal you want to start taking things to a new level.

“I asked the band which video directors they loved, we threw a whole bunch of names around then settled on five to shoulder tap.”

Why this idea for this song?

“The song has different parts, so it felt like it would work in that way. Hit Me Where It Hurts is much more in the pop realm for Alae. The band definitely wanted to do something different, and it’s also an evolution for Alex as a songwriter, working with someone outside of the band. This time he was working with a great songwriter – Justin Gray, who was here for SongHubs. He’s just produced Six60’s new album as well.”

Why five directors?

“Five directors was good because that’s how the song broke up; intro, first verse, chorus, second verse, bridge, then at the end we just did a montage.

“When I called each director to ask them to do it they all said they were in. Actually they loved the idea of working with other directors – because they don’t ever do that. They were all fond of each others’ work, but some hadn’t even met each other before. So it was a great idea!”

All ‘names’ too, so how much did that cost?

“I gave them a grand each. Five grand for the video, so $1000 each, and my job was to produce the whole thing! A lot of people came on board to help. Most of that money for the directors went on camera hire, location and wardrobe, so we were pretty lucky – very lucky, especially with those directors as well!”

Who chose who did which section?

“We got everyone together at my office and asked their opinions on how to do it – should they all know what the other was doing for instance. The consensus was to do it blindly. The cool thing about those directors is they all have their own aesthetic right? So let’s not now tell them that we need to do something that matches another person’s work. We put the bits of the song into a hat and Alex passed it around the room.”

Some were happy, some weren’t, so a little bit of swapping went on. Charlotte [Evans] loves doing long intros, so she swapped with Alexander [Gandar] who got the chorus.

So were there any rules?

“The only thing agreed on from the outset was that each would start on a tight shot of Alex and finish on a tight shot of Alex. That gave us a cutting point for each segment.

“My brother is a great DoP and he shot the whole thing. That was real important – him knowing what each of the other shoots looked like, how they were lit, what lenses and what cameras were used. If each had a different DoP it would definitely have felt more disjointed.

“Over the next six weeks there were five shoot days, some easy, others like Chris Graham’s involved 50 extras, a venue, a bleeding heart, massive lighting, smoke and so on…”

Think you’ll ever do it again?

“No – it was too fucking hard! [He laughs.] It was really, really fun to do, to see everyone’s treatment and see the crazy idea come together. The production work was tough just because of the schedule and budget – and then cutting it together so it all worked. Each director was really busy and being asked to work for free, then all the gear and crew needed for five shoots. And we had a few things go wrong, like a card that was corrupt so didn’t record, meaning a complete re-shoot was needed…”

Why so much effort spent on a video?

“We’ve always tried to make really interesting looking videos for Alae and Hit Me Where It Hurts is a pivotal song on their EP [due out in March next year]. These new songs have already taken them to another level of response from the music industry and this song will be their first official US release.

“So the whole thing was, ‘Let’s try something completely different.’ I think music videos these days need to be a promotional tool as much as an idea and version of the song. I think it’s a good launching pad from what Alae were doing to what they’re doing now.”