There’s a long tradition of puppet music videos, from Gabriel Byrne’s cameo in the Rubber Bandits’ ‘Fellas’, to Ed Sheeran’s muppet of muppet. But as far as we know this is the first time someone’s remade ‘Smack My Bitch’ up with marionettes. Inspired by the tough guy lyrics of Shy Mascot’s new track ‘Pardon Me’, we imaged a puppet on an odyssey through Dublin, leaving a trail of mayhem and broken hearts behind him.
An off the wall idea turned into six months of preproduction, as special effects guru Frances Galligan created uncanny wood and plaster replicas of Shy Mascot’s Jamel Franklin and Fia Gregg. We shot these diminutive rebels everywhere from sex shops to jewellery stores, Dublin buses to cat sanctuaries.
A tiny crew headed up by writer / director Gareth Stack and DOP Siobhan Madden combined storyboarded action sequences with improvised guerrilla shooting. Whenever a location lent itself to leprechaun scale hijinks we found a way to take advantage. Volunteer performers mixed with season pros to seduce and battle lil’ Jamel’s bad ass homunculus. Probably the most ambitious scene features a bloody dustup between Dublin based performance poet Raven (playing a cassocked street preacher) and Jamel’s balsa wood hard nut. We shot in the crumbling remains of O’Devaney gardens while dozens of local kids milled around and cars pulled donuts between abandoned tower blocks.
We fought everything from tangled strings to reluctant sex shop proprietors to get this video made. Our action packed finale even had to be reshot when a memory cannibalised itself This happened after we’d snapped off one of lil’ Jamel’s feet and broken his back flinging him through the air first time around! Fortunately, after a short operation this little legend soldiered on.
Our favourite scene features a date between marionette Jamel and our moonlighting DOP Siobhan, shot in Dublin’s only barcade ‘Token’. To sex up this smokey seduction, we used the golden-age Hollywood technique of stretching cotton stockings over the lens for a poor mans glamour filter.
All in all, the shoot took nine days, and the edit another three weeks. But the memories – bench pressing Ireland’s largest sex aid, laying half naked on the floor of the Glimmerman’s ladies while a marionette vomited, fighting allergies to give a puppet a chance to visit a cat sanctuary were absolutely worth it!
Two years back I was visiting New York, and didn’t have anywhere to stay. I put “friends who live in New York City” into facebook, and messaged everyone who came up, asking for a couch. Ray Brown, a guy who I’d met for thirty minutes at a yard party years before, said he couldn’t put me up but offered to take me out on the town. That night we visited the legendary Sidewalk cafe, the East Village anti-folk bar where Ray has been a regular for over thirty years. Ray introduced me to a cute girl and I fell head over heels in love.
Ever since, Ray and I have been friends, and on his most recent trip to Ireland (where I live) to record a record, I did some shooting in the studio, thinking to one day make a documentary about his extraordinary life. Only afterwards, with the album already in pre-production did it occur to me that this footage might make a cool music video. So I’ve been hacking away at this for the past week or so. It’s shot on my humble Panasonic G85, with the Sigma 18 – 35, just in whatever light we had in Alfionn studio – a tiny independent space in Dublin; and graded in DaVinci with Red Giant Universe.
Recorded at Alfionn Studios, May / June / August 2018.
Performing – Ray Brown, Myles Manley, Nick Boon, Chris Barry, Brandon Perdomo, and Ali Byrne.