PREMIERE: Fletcher C Johnson’s “In My Time” Video Is an Homage to Georges Méliès
The folksy songwriter shares the first video from his podcast-released new album Are You Feelin’ It.
The latest release from Fletcher C Johnson isn’t just unique in that the songwriter has finally fully embraced his folksy troubadour charm—Are You Feelin’ It is also the first record Johnson has shared by premiering most of the album song-by-song via podcast. Over the past month we’ve become acquainted with a handful of the forthcoming record’s tracks via his Listening to Fletcher C Johnson podcast, while also learning about the trials and tribulations of the Burger Records alum’s career, including addiction and homelessness.
Perhaps recognizing the difficulty in premiering a video over the airwaves (the cloudwaves?), Johnson is sharing his visual companion to “In My Time” with us a week prior to Feelin’ It’s release date. With Georges Méliès as his muse, Johnson converted his living room into a makeshift movie set for a series of eye-popping magic tricks, recalling the confounding imagery and physical comedy of one of cinema’s godfathers. By some miracle of trick photography, CGI, or simple editing software, Johnson’s video is nearly as playful as his music.
“Shooting the video was more difficult than it may seem,” Johnson admits. “It’s all basically one take. For every cut I had to stand as still as possible while the set was modified around me so, at the beginning of the next scene, it would flow into the previous take as perfectly as possible. If something interrupted the flow of scenes, like you jumped ahead one piece, you basically had to start the entire video from the beginning again.”
As a man of words, it may come as no surprise that Johnson has plenty more to say of the video’s creation, which you can read below the clip.
I shot this music video in the winter. It was freezing outside so I wanted a project that would waste away the winter days and I wouldn’t have to leave my apartment. Time consuming and indoors. I told my wife I was turning the living room into a set and she was not excited about it!
Our living room, like most Brooklyn apartments, is very small. At first I thought of turning all the rooms in our apartment into sets, but my lady gave that a big no. So I brainstormed what I could do with a small single set and I thought of the master, Georges Méliès.
I first learned of Méliès, like many people of my generation, through the Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight” video (what a great video!) and was later reminded of him by watching the Martin Scorsese children’s movie Hugo, which dives a bit into his career.
While I’d seen Billy C. and Scorsese mining Méliès’ movies for their beauty, I had never heard of anyone focusing on the terrific physical comedy! People are always getting slapped on the ass by a ghost or having water spit on them by a floating head.
Méliès regularly incorporates magicians into his movies and I liked the idea of a magician whose act starts getting away from them, so I began gathering ideas and structuring them in an outline. I watched well over a hundred Méliès movies, taking notes, and trying to figure out how to make his physical bits my own.
Shooting the video was more difficult than it may seem. It’s all basically one take. For every cut I had to stand as still as possible while the set was modified around me so, at the beginning of the next scene, it would flow into the previous take as perfectly as possible. If something interrupted the flow of scenes, like you jumped ahead one piece, you basically had to start the entire video from the beginning again.
For the conclusion of the video, the entire set had to be wiped and my original living room put back into place, which made my wife happy. This meant that if anything had been done wrong, there was no turning back. I was nervous to see what I had to work with in the editing room—we actually lost a bit of stuff in the middle because the camera overheated, but I was able to piece together something I really liked out of what we had.
On a side note, this video was actually intended for a different song. In the beginning, if you take a close look at the poster in the back it reads “Did You Ever Know, Boy,” which is the title of another track on the album. I’d done some dry runs with a timer, going through all the planned motions, and finding a rough estimate of how long the video would be, but when I edited it, the video was a solid minute shorter! “In My Time” fit the video’s length and seemed to flow better with the physical comedy anyway.
Méliès never picked the songs that now play behind his movies so I guess I’m happy to be in the same boat as my man.