Chris is big name in the music industry with a well deserved reputation as “an American bandleader, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and roots musician best known for the horn-driven, swing, R&B, jump blues style band he has led since 1984, Chris Daniels & The Kings.” “Chris is also an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Denver and was nominated to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2012 with Judy Collins and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. After being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in 2010, Daniels under went Hematopoietic bone marrow transplantation and has made a complete recovery.”
This brush with death inspired Daniels to write “Sister Delores,” and tell the story of how one woman, Sister Delores and her prayers, revived his will to live and brought him back to life.
Enter friend and graphic designer from Denver, Greg Carr, www.gcarr.net. Greg heard the song, loved it and thought it presented a unique opportunity for Chris to produce his first music video.
At this point in the story, Joyco enters the picture. Neither Greg nor Chris had ever produced a music video. Greg, being the visually oriented guy he is and designer of Joyco’s new logo and trade marked phrase “Imagi*reating: Creating What The Imagination Envisions,” knew he needed experienced production personnel who could turn his vision into reality. Enter Joyco president and owner Bob Coffin. Bob and Greg worked together on Joyco’s new marketing materials, so it was logical for Greg to ask for Bob’s help.
Greg’s concept was to have Chris singing the song while sitting on a hospital style bed that was located outside with a sweeping mountain vista behind it. Chris would sing and members of the backup group would accompany him. The mountains behind Chris would emphasize the lyrics of the song and create a visual juxtaposition that would draw the viewer into the song.
Bob immediately accepted the challenging project, but one question had to be answered before production could begin: first and foremost, where could the video be shot? Bob turned to his director of photography, Mark Flick. He asked Mark to start scouting outdoor locations in the Denver area that would fit the bill. As is often the case with projects like this, things are easier said than done. Most of the areas Mark found, that offered views of Colorado’s Front Range, were public lands and being granted permission to shoot on the properties would be a difficult and time consuming process. But Mark found another way.
Turns out the city of Arvada, Colorado, where Joyco is located, has a “relaxed” process for obtaining a film production permits on its property and streets. Since Joyco had used other Arvada locations for previous shoots, Mark was familiar with the process. And even more fortunate, Arvada owned a piece of ground on the extreme edge of the metro area that offered the views required for the shoot. Now, with permit in hand, Bob could schedule the shoot and start assembling talent.
Greg Carr would direct. Mark Flick would be director of photography and camera operator. Bob Coffin would edit the song’s audio into easily filmed segments and handle on location audio playback. Chris contacted his backup singers and musicians and a date of December 1st was set for the shoot. Now if only the weather would cooperate.
As it turned out, that December day was one of the warmest, calmest days of the entire month. The wind near the Foot Hills of Arvada can be fierce. But not this day, much to the relief of DP Mark Flick. For added production value, it was decided early on in the pre-production process, to use Canon 60D cameras fitted with Canon 18-40mm and 28-105mm EF “L” lenses, either hand-held or mounted on Joyco’s 25-foot Cammate jib. Maneuvering a jib in even light wind can be a challenge so everyone was relieved when it was evident the weather was going to cooperate.
Except for the use of a jib, Mark wanted to keep the shoot technically simple, so existing light was used exclusively. “The shoot would rely on the 60D’s excellent dynamic range to carry the day,” Mark said. “We had to work quickly, since Chris and his friends were only available for specific time during the day. We never knew if the weather would turn on us.” “I like the angle and quality of light during the winter months in Colorado because it’s like having a big 45-degree source where ever you turn.”
Once on location, Greg Carr’s mind went to high-speed visualization mode. Greg came up with the idea to open the video with Chris lying in bed, not moving, but then through clever editing, have Chris rise up like an apparition and continue to sing the song, symbolizing his rebirth through the strength given to him by Sister Delores’ presence and her prayers.
Chris had never shot a real, full-fledged music video, so Greg, Bob and Chris discussed what Chris must do to pull off the shoot. Interestingly, Chris had to “relearn” his own song. His performance of “Sister Delores” had evolved since he first recorded it, so it took Chris a little while to remember how he sang it originally, so his performance would match the playback audio.
Greg then huddled with Mark to decide how to photograph singers Freddi Gowdy, Scott McCormick, Jennifer Marriott and accordion player John Magnie while Chris sat on the hospital bed. In the end, many of the moves were improvised to match the music as Bob played each segment. Great to work with creative people.
Being close to the mountains causes the sun to set a bit earlier than usual, but in this case, the timing was great. Greg wanted to shoot the entire video in order and knew he had to end the video with a healthy Chris driving off, in this case literally motoring into the sunset. As Mark and rest of the crew scrambled to shift equipment, Chris’ famous blue Chevy pick-up was brought in with Chris’ dog. As cameras rolled, Chris convincingly returns to good health, guides his truck back on to the road of life to resume his career; a healed man, with a greater appreciation for the power of prayer, and meaning of life.
Of the song Chris wrote on You Tube: “The song is one of fear and uncertainty being met with the power of love. It matters not what I believe then or now. The phrase "battlefield christian" came from an old saying "there are no atheists on a battlefield" and it spoke to what happens to so many of us when we face death… We search for faith, that something better might come. It did for me in the form of a beautiful (now) life long friend who prayed for me and I felt better because of it. I hope that answers some thoughtful questions.”
Now the scene shifts to the post-production phase of the project and Joyco editor Tom Hofmeister begins his work on the video. Tom and Greg decided on several visual effects and video filters they would use to polish the video and give it a distinct personality.
First, they needed to add Sister Delores, played by close friend and Denver singing legend Hazel Miller. DP Mark Flick, was tasked with shooting Hazel on green screen in the Joyco insert studio while Greg directed her movements. Tom was able to match her movements perfectly and at the same time give her a heavenly glow.
The “projected” film effect was added to accentuate the “memory” aspect of the video and evoke the idea that Chris is recalling a past event. Tom and Greg labored long and hard to get just the right number of projector film jumps that made the job of syncing the playback easier without becoming annoying. Tom also graded each shot for that old-timey look. Rendering the final edit in FinalCut took many hours.
Chris was pleased with the final product. On You Tube he wrote: “In February of 2010, I was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and during treatment and an amazing woman by the name of Delores asked if she could pray for me on a day I was feeling really low because my counts (blood) were all screwed up and I was not responding as fast as they hoped. She made me feel so much better...thanks to Greg Carr, Hazel Miller, John Magnie, Freddi, Scott and Jen plus all the crew at Joyco for making this little movie -- my hospital room never had this amazing a view.”
Thanks Chris, the pleasure was all ours!