Shooting a music video

A day on set with Talking Under Water
Scott Pukos
The band used Greenovation on East Main Street in Rochester for their recent music video shoot.

In the center of a room littered with antique chairs, discarded clothing, and something dubbed the “beer urinal,” the members of Talking Under Water were quoting The Big Lebowski. And much like The Dude—the protagonist in the Coen brothers’ cult classic—lead singer and pianist Dave Chisholm expressed his admiration for Creedence Clearwater Revival. But after a few ad-libbed bars of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” it was time for work again.

On this particular Sunday in October, the band members had been planted in the middle of Rochester Greenovation for the afternoon. The refurbished and vintage goods store was closed that day, allowing Talking Under Water to take over. The large space was beaming with organized chaos. Christmas lights strung across one part of the massive room, old Genesee Brewing signs looming overhead, and yes, even an old urinal—now used to hold beer during parties—were present. And the band (Chisholm, cellist Elise Hughey, drummer Stephen Roessner, and guitarist Alex Patrick) was several hours deep into filming the first part of the music video for their new single, “Tossing and Turning.”

The four-song Tossing and Turning EP was released in December 2014 with a title tune described by Chisholm as a lyrically “sad song,” but the sound itself is upbeat. It features an energetic, sing-along chorus, which gives the group good reason to use the wordy hashtag #sadsongstomakeyoufeelbetter across its various social media platforms. And while the music may deal with sadness, the band members are the opposite of “emo.” Banter was prevalent throughout the lengthy music video shoot.

Between takes, the group would break into brief cover tunes—everything from the Beatles to the Jurassic Park theme— with Chisholm cracking jokes like, “Make me look like George Clooney” periodically. And while the afternoon session featured take after take of the band ripping through “Tossing and Turning,” it wasn’t exactly like playing a live gig.The music video features slow motion effects, and to capture that visual, the band had to play in a style they dubbed “funny double time.” For each take, the song blasted over speakers with a frantic pace—like someone hit the fast-forward button on a remote. While the track, at its normal speed, is four minutes and forty-four seconds, the music video version is exactly half that length. 

Director Will Graver of Lemon-Fresh Bastards (the name of the production company, really) explained this gives him and the rest of the editing team more leeway when putting the video together. “It’s like putting together a puzzle,” Graver says of the fifty-plus clips of the performance the crew shot. They then mixed clips from the first shoot—the band members jamming out—with shots from a November filming session with three actors (Hannah Chisholm, Topher Martin, and Daniel Forbes) playing the points of a love triangle.

High production quality meant other things—like wardrobe—had to be considered during filming. Before the shoot began, Graver realized Patrick’s white shirt wouldn’t look correct on film. After raiding the Greenovation clothing stash, Patrick came back with a pile of shirts— garments that turned out to be women’s clothing—so after running home and changing his wardrobe, Patrick was finally ready for the spotlight, just like his band. With their EP out and a slew of shows scheduled for 2015, Talking Under Water is ready to take the next step. 

Scott Pukos is an award-winning writer and a producer at News 8 in Rochester. 

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