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Toronto Musician Attracts Zombies To Windsor

Wednesday October 10th, 2012, 3:00pm


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With Halloween and The Walking Dead lurking in the shadows, one musician has lured some zombies to Windsor.

Never one to slow down, director Gavin Michael Booth is at it again. Having helmed the video for Toronto-artist Emma-Lee’s song Figure It Out, the two are collaborating once more. Filmed entirely in Windsor, her video for Shadow Of A Ghost – released today – features the undead quite prominently.

Sharing a love of movies, Booth and Emma-Lee had a specific vision. After creating a Glee-esque grocery store romp for their first collaboration, the two agreed on a concept that was almost the polar opposite. Citing Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, John Waters and the grindhouse or B-movie genres as inspiration, they set about creating something much darker.

“Knowing that Emma-Lee is willing to take risks in her videos and totally go to the opposite end of the spectrum, story-wise, from the Figure It Out video is a director’s dream,” said Booth. “I was able to make [this video] as dark and as strange as I wanted to.”

In the clip, Emma-Lee and her band are playing a concert while bright house-lights blind their view. Little do they know, the crowd is made up of zombies and once she sees this, it becomes a fight to escape alive – “Like a bad B-movie you haven’t seen before,” according to Booth. Concert scenes were filmed upstairs at The Room night club, the future Raindance Centre’s basement was used for the venue’s escape scenes and exterior shots were done outside the Capitol Theatre or behind Phog lounge.

Although it was only fiction, the hard work made many feel like zombies by the end of the day too.

“The music video was shot in a single day,” said Booth. “A very long 21-hour shooting day but a day nonetheless. I actually had the flu through the shoot – the night before I seriously considered rescheduling, but there were so many people coming in from out of town and so many hands on deck, I decided it would be best to suck it up and push through with it.”

Emma-Lee agrees and admired everyone’s dedication.

“It was a pretty long shoot,” she said. “Almost 21-hours straight, so there were moments when we were all ready to pass out. I was really impressed with the cast and crew who gave it their all into the wee hours.”

Despite this, another challenge of the non-brain-eating kind lurked around the corner. It turns out that making zombies isn’t cheap or easy. Luckily, Booth’s crew rose to the occasion through blood sweat and guts. Aside from Emma-Lee bringing the band’s make-up artist from Toronto, everyone participating was locally-based.

“[The biggest challenges were] the hours of make-up prep required,” said Booth. “The specialty of skills from the actors to give believable performances of moving in ways a living person would not. We were working with a fairly small budget so it was important to have a good sized crowd of zombies without compromising on the make-up …we relied heavily on Micheal Reeve – one of the local Zombie Walk organizers – to draw people who are zombie enthusiasts out for the filming.”

While Booth didn’t know Emma-Lee before directing Figure It Out, his work spoke for itself. Having seen a video he did for another Toronto-based artist, the musician contacted Booth and remains happy she did (even though he hooked her up with the undead.)

“I had seen a video he did for Robyn Dell’Unto and really liked it, then decided to get in touch,” said Emma-Lee. “[Figure It Out] has been my favourite music video experience thus far. Gavin likes to work on the fly and I can appreciate that. I like leaving a little bit to chance and spontaneity, you usually get better results than you expected. He was also really open to my ideas and I think the best directors are those who are open to collaboration and working towards the best possible result.”

So what does Emma-Lee think of the new video?

“I’m in love with it,” she exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to star in a horror movie, and since I’m probably a horrible actress this is as close to that dream as it’s going to get – For me it was just a ton of fun! It’s like an art project. Of course I hope it brings more ears to my music, but I also just hope people enjoy it for the mini-ride that it is and appreciate all the artists who were a part of making it happen.”

Booth and Emma-Lee are already working on their next collaborations together. In another departure from past work, the next two videos they create will feature emotional concepts. With each song being a ballad, it’s another challenge the duo is excited about.

Emma-Lee’s current album, Backseat Heroine, can be purchased on iTunes Canada. Further information about music and concerts can be found on her website as well. Booth’s upcoming videos can be found on Mimetic Entertainment’s website upon release.

As for Emma-Lee’s time in Windsor and what she liked about it?

“My only experience in Windsor has been shooting videos,” said the musician. “On both occasions, the people were so lovely to work with: Zero ego, just ready to work and have fun! Windsor also has really great pizza!”

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