Monday, April 7, 2008

Memories of A Music Video Model-my First Lead Music Video experience remembered

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When I greeted the band in a musty bar in the middle of the Island somewhere, they just looked really stoned and scruffy to me. There was a whole production crew busy with setting up lights and running wires that covered the floor like a flood of black cobras. I met the casting director and was told to get comfortable on the reddish, burnt-looking couch; a few cigarette butts were on the floor below.

I sat with the other three girls -- this was one of the first times I had worked with other models. There were two blondes and another brunette, like me, and we laughed and shared modeling experiences and talked about the train ride. I rolled off my tongue a few of my latest modeling jobs; at 5’ 4’’ I figured I was the tiniest model they all probably ever had seen.

I watched the makeup artist who was setting up her kit and sitting on a bar stool. There was smoke swirling in the air as the stylist arranged clothing and a rainbow of punk looking tee-shirts, skirts, and other accessories.

While we got dressed, the stylist handed us all matching red stilettos from Bakers. This must have been the reason the casting director asked us our shoe size in the electronic emailed submission. The red shoes were a little too snug since they were new, but I felt like I was getting the royal treatment when the stylist said we could keep them.

The four band members were at the bar, they looked like locals. The one who sat in the middle, who I learned later was the lead singer Claudio Sanchez, had wild hair, a fro, and his pile of bed head smiled our way. They seemed a little shy, quiet or maybe high, and it was sort of comforting to know they were not planning on hitting on us girls. I noticed another pretty blonde sitting near them. She was the lead singer’s girlfriend; she would end up being the real lead female of the video.

The casting director explained that our role as “leads” meant that we were to portray one of the bitches at the bar. I sat on a bar stool next to the other three girls, sporting 80’s gear: a green mesh tank top, sassy lipstick and earrings, and a side pony tail. I figured the green tank would stand out.

The red shoes we wore would be the entrance to the song called “A Favor House Atlantic.” We all practiced swaying our ankles and shoes in beat with the start of the song, which played on the stereo as the videographer’s voice told us what to do.

We moved our shoes in rhythm to the song as Claudio started to sing with a fan placed below his face so his fro could blow in the wind. He belted with a slight whine, “Your eyes tell the stories of a day you wish you could recall the moments that once have…”

Then, a few beats later each one of us would lip synch a line of the song. That was our own moment. It was best not to ruin it, and I was glad the director was giving us our own moment with the camera. Playing a bitch was easy for me since I had some cramps and could feel my period coming.

It felt good to know we had this personal video time, and that I wouldn’t have to fight with the other leads for exposure, should the video end up somewhere important. When it was my turn, I mouth the lyrics and the word “Sniper” the best I could and pointed at the camera with a little gun shot smile. Later my part had to be edited out because of the war in Iraq. I was pissed because women can shake their bare ass on TV, but I couldn’t mouth the word “Sniper.” I didn’t worry too long, I was given a copy of the video with the actual unedited version that I could use if I wanted to.

The job of being a bitch and getting our makeup and hair done in the same way for the two days -- same outfit, shoes, and lipstick-- would separate us from the twenty female background actors who showed up for free.

I can still hear Claudio singing: “Bye, bye, beautiful, don’t bother to write,” as us four girls ran through the crowd of background girls and danced in the front row facing the band.

The video shoot introduced me also to the manager, who got me some Advil since I had a headache. As I sipped water the manager explained that the band’s name was based on the characters that were part of a science fiction story Claudio had written. I found this symbolic meaning intriguing and grew more interested in their music and by the end of the two days I knew the song “A Favor House Atlantic” by heart. Or maybe it was because it had played over 100 times during the music video shoot. The manager mentioned the band might be on MTV. A few years later, when the band was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, I almost shit my pants.

The summer that followed the music video shoot, I became a college graduate of the class of 2004 and was on a Miami rendezvous. That summer the Favor House Atlantic music video did air on MTV about a million times. I remember being stopped in the street and asked if I was the girl in the video with the green shirt. Afterward, I had even more faith in my modeling career and was anxious for more lead roles.

It feels cool to look back now and know I was a part of one of Coheed and Cambria’s first music videos, in that musty bar in Long Island, before they got picked up by Sony and became a world wide name in the progressive rock scene.

Isobella Jade is a petite model and author of the book called Almost 5’4”. She blogs daily about the modeling business and being a petite model. She also speaks on a podcast called "Model Talk" each week that shares tricks and tips of working in the modeling business.

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