We shot No Way Out in the late spring. It debuted on MTV in June (I think) when the album Nuclear Furniture was released.
In July, Irv got approved to direct another video with the Starship. In the interim, founder Paul Kantner had left the group and was suing them over the word ‘Jefferson’ in the band’s name. The song was Laying It On The Line which had a number of political references – political abuse of power, the fighting at that time in Nicaragua, Mid-Eastern oil problems, etc.
Coincidentally and very conveniently, the Democrats had just completed their 1984 Presidential Convention in San Francisco, where Walter Mondale & Geraldine Ferraro were nominated. A good friend of the drug dealer/wannabe-producer was able to secure all the convention hall decorations.
The story for the video was that Mickey Thomas & Grace Slick are running for office in 1988 (Mike & Slick in ’88) and are addressing convention – their acceptance speech , so to speak. Irv storyboarded the basic shots and we started to plan it out.
We secured a great location for the pseudo convention – an emergency water pumping station. After the 1906 Earthquake when most of San Francisco burned down, the city had build a number of emergency pumping stations that, if needed, would be able to draw in seawater and hydraulically pump it into the system. It was essentially a big empty hall, surrounded by humongous pipes. It was never used unless there was an emergency, it was out of the way and almost soundproof – perfect.
For the convention’s attendees, Irv decided to use the wannabee-producer’s extensive contacts and rounded up as many local celebrities and politicians as we could. They included (in no particular order):
- Bill Graham, the great impresario and promoter
- Hon. Willie Brown (them Speaker of the California State Assembly, later to be Mayor of San Francisco)
- Comedian Pat Paulsen
- Members of Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Avant-garde music and visual arts group The Residents (known for anonymity – always dressed as big eyeballs)
- Grace & Paul’s daughter China Kantner
- Local rock writer & personality Sheila Renee
- The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
- Artist Gage Taylor
- Plus hundreds of colorfully clothed extras and dozens of babies
The 3 day shoot was about as fun as these things can be. It was a lot of work – especially wrangling the babies/kids – but the story worked, the energy of the crowd and celebrities was fantastic. It was inspired, but controlled chaos.
I also got to be a Secret Service Agent, guarding the stage.
There were a few scenes shot outdoors, but the majority was done at the pumping station.
For the final shot, we used a close-up with a phone number – perhaps the first attempt to do direct marketing in a music video.
I was probably more help during editing than I was during shooting, as I had much more experience there. Many of my suggestions made it into the final cut.
Though once again I was paid nothing, watching and learning as Irv and all the other crew worked was worth the effort.
I already had great work habits, but my experience here confirmed that showing up first and leaving last is the best way to stay organized and on top of things.
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