Local Music Video Heads Down Death Row

Saturday March 25th, 2017

Posted at 10:00am

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Flirting with death row, one Windsor film-maker captured some final moments before leaving.

Not actually sentenced to death, Gavin Michael Booth recently came home to direct some music videos. Now living in Los Angeles, he set aside five days to shoot as many clips while in Windsor.

Part of that work was a new collaboration with Gavin Slate for his latest single, Death Row.

“This is my seventh music video collaboration with Gavin Slate,” said Booth. “I can honestly say it has been my most rewarding and creative collaboration with any musician. Gavin’s always come to me and said ‘This is the next song I’m releasing as a single, come up with any idea’ for the most part. Except for his Life As A Salesman Starbucks Pick Of The Week prank video — which was born out of [Slate’s] brain — and now this music video for Death Row.”

The director recently started filming music videos in a specific way as well. Using the songs as a soundtrack, Booth now treats his projects as silent short-films that don’t feature appearances from any artists or bands. It’s all in the service of telling stories that interest him.

It’s moments like these when working with an artist so many times helps.

“I approached Gavin and said, ‘listen, I have this idea, I know the actors (Windsor’s own Matt Maenpaa – who also owns Vermouth Bar downtown and Toronto’s Christina Notto – who previously shot in Windsor with me for The Blue Stones music video “Vain Vixen) and cinematographer (Karl Janisse) and producer (Windsor’s Sierra Parr) that can make this happen. With your permission, I’d like to go off and create this video but retain full artist control.’ Gavin Slate is incredibly trusting with my film-making given the success and length of our collaboration and I am flattered by the ability to have this opportunity.”

shot at Windsor’s Parrline Electrical Supply warehouse, the video was inspired by stories like Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers. The plot revolves around the final moments before two lovers on the run are surrounded by police. Focusing on the crucial decisions being made in a high stakes situation, the video takes place in slow-motion. This gives it a dream-like quality as these moments stretch out across the length of the song.

While shooting at night required a lot of coffee, the experience itself was painless.

“Really, this was a dream shoot,” said Booth. “Both Matt and Christina are actors I trust and knew would pull off great performances. Sierra works like few others when it comes to producing and Karl, the cinematographer — we’ve had the chance to work together many times now over the course of the last year. It’s always a creatively charged problem-solving dynamic, which makes my job as a director a delight.”

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It’s these connections that keep him coming home as well. Not looking for the pay check with many projects, it’s been crucial to work in an area that supports creative arts. Booth has forged many collaborations with business owners, actors and crew which has resulted in locations to film, catering and connections he still trusts and relies on.

Booth also maintains that local media plays a big role in supporting these projects, even if people in his new home don’t quite understand the connection.

“No one in Los Angeles can wrap their head around my love affair with filming in Windsor but it boils down to the creative freedom the Windsor area has always afforded me,” he said. “Being from Windsor and continuing to shoot in the area gives me the ability to create and nurture working relationships with other artists living and working in the city. Folks in Windsor have been the entire foundation of support and generosity on almost every film project I have made right from the very beginning.”

Having so many places for him to shoot doesn’t hurt either.

“Fields, forests, city streets, dilapidated buildings, houses, parks… whatever it is, Windsor and Essex County have it,” said Booth. “It’s my filmmaking playground. If I pinned Google Maps of every places I’ve filmed material I think it would be an overwhelming number.”

When it comes to his video, the film-maker remains proudest of the very group of local collaborators he put together for it. Most of his team had never worked together and didn’t share the same connection to Slate that Booth does. Working to bring the director’s vision to life was a humbling experience for him and he hopes to work with the crew again.

Creating more content together is also a big part of Booth’s relationship with Slate. Having creative freedom and music that sparks ideas, it’s the perfect marriage for both of them.

“Well there’s an old adage, ‘Two Gavins are better than one,'” said Booth. “Actually there isn’t but in this case it seems to serve us well. I think it is a simple fact of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.’ It has always been my believe that great creative partnerships are like marriages — it is a creative marriage and you have to be in love with each other’s ideas and ideals about achieving those ideas. If it works, if you nurture it and the marriage is healthy then there is always time for another honeymoon.”

Outside of music videos, Booth has been keeping busy. His short-film Orange Lipstick recently had its world premiere at San Jose’s Cinequest Film Festival on March 5 as an official selection. It’s just one of several projects Booth has in different stages of development.

As far as the video for Slate’s Death Row, it can currently be found on youtube. It’s something Booth hopes will get people’s attention, even if it’s only for a little while.

“I hope people can be entertained for a few minutes by the story as it unfolds and enjoy the path it takes,” he said. “That’s all I can ask is that we created something entertaining enough to hold viewers’ attention and they stop talking, texting or whatever form of multi-tasking to watch the video.”

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