Jeff Speed (writer/director) interviewed

** Writer, director and videographer Jeff Speed discusses the finer aspects of Municipal Waste's "Fatal Feast" video and his affinity for '80s sci-horror. How did you find the location? It’s pretty unique to film a metal video on the set of an old television series, especially one as cult as Firefly. Jeff Speed: I’ve actually known about this great location (Laurel Canyon Stages) for a while and have been planning to do a project there. Weird thing is that on the night before Tony hit me up with the opportunity to take on the "Feast" vid I was on that location's website going through set photos and trying to brainstorm ideas for my own sci-fi bloodbath. When Tony pitched me a cannibalistic space theme, I couldn’t believe my ears. I sent him some set photos that blew his mind and it was on. Crazy how things work out like that sometimes.

What are some of the realities of filming a heavy metal video? Budget, I’m sure is near the top of the list. Jeff Speed: Budget was the list. Numerous filmmaker colleagues told me that I was crazy to attempt this video for this budget and I quickly realized that I was. In order to pull it off the way I envisioned and the band deserved we had to be creative as hell, pull every favor possible and then get lucky on top of that. Production Designer, Chris Speed (twin brother) and I came up with all kinds of cheap practical effects for kills and set pieces like the Astro Face Melt and Gore Door that would deliver the goods in terms of execution and at the same time add our own personal stamp on the video. We are huge on practical effects. I’ll take that aesthetic over CG any day, practical looks way cooler. At the end of the day I was very fortunate. The video turned out pretty much exactly how it was written and that is a tribute to the unbelievable Fatal Feast crew who were down for the grind. These are my best friends, family and colleagues. You know who you are, and I am truly grateful. This video couldn’t have happened with out those sacrifices. Thanks again crew!

I think the quality of the "Fatal Feast" video looks like something from the ‘80s. Was that the intention? Jeff Speed: The '80s vibe was never intended but at the same time hard to avoid. Most of me and my brother’s film influences are from '80s sci-fi and horror flicks, take all of the practical effects we used in this vid, for example. We also grew up on those music videos and bands from that era. Municipal Waste’s classic sound and content are obviously heavily influenced by '80s culture. It’s just engrained in us I guess. Nothing was forced, that’s just what we dig.

Since this was the second time you’ve worked with Municipal Waste, I gather you knew what to expect from the guys, as far as performances were concerned. Jeff Speed: I first worked with Municipal Waste on the "Sadistic Magician" video. On that vid they did a little bit of acting but the driving force behind "Magician" was their band performance, which they absolutely killed. So going into this video I knew that they would deliver on their band performance no problem and I had a fairly good feeling that the band would be down to act out those cannibal scenarios. The first storyline scene we shot with the band was the Captain’s death scene and the Waste delivered tenfold. On the first take, they wildly tore into that Captain’s torso and began chomping on those intestines in that cannibalistic rage. It was beautiful, it was gross and it was hilarious! It was perfect. I knew from that moment the Waste were serious about making "Fatal Feast" something special. The rest of night was a breeze, the band blew me away in every scene. These dudes are so great to work with. I hope I get the call for every Waste vid. This was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had on a project.

To someone who’s never filmed a professional visual product (or music video) what kind of equipment are you using? To get that non-camcorder look. Jeff Speed: "Fatal Feast" was shot on three different cameras. The work horses on set were the Canon 5D and Canon 7D, which are digital SLR cameras that shoot HD resolution video and have interchangeable lenses for great image control and depth of field to achieve that cinematic quality. We used a GoPro Hero 2 for the POV of the Captain’s intestine rip that we called the “Torsoscope.”

For the CG bits, were they done in-house or were they outsourced? Jeff Speed: Not much CG in this vid, most effects are practical like I stated earlier. The Waste Station and Rescue ship were miniature models built by Chris and that green space nebula was a fish tank effect doctored up by my neighbor and fellow metal vid director, Phil Mucci. The only computer generated stuff was the star field from the intro and outro, created by my roommate, Peter Thornton and the lens flare and thruster particles which were created by Phil. That spaceship intro/outro were put together in After Effects by Phil as well. The dude is a wizard. Stay tuned for Mucci’s upcoming vid for High On Fire’s "Fertile Green". It will be a trip to say the least.

I kind of feel like the opening moments have a bit of an Event Horizon quality to them. What are some of your favorite/inspiring space-horror films? Jeff Speed: There was certainly some Event Horizon inspired elements in this video, Alien as well. I watched both of those flicks a couple of times to get some ideas on lighting and how to shoot those miniature spaceship models. My favorite space horror films are The Thing, Alien, Aliens, Event Horizon and Critters, who can forget that masterpiece. I can go on, but I will leave it at those five.

You have an Andy Warhol quote on your website. “Art is what you can get away with.” How extendable is that to video or film making? Jeff Speed: I think that quote should sum up every artist in every medium. There should be no rules or boundaries in creating art but in the realm of music and film that is hardly the case anymore. The industries are full of safe, run of the mill BS geared to making that guaranteed buck. Another thing that’s great about working with Municipal Waste is they trust my vision, which allows my brother and I creative freedom to come up with crazy stuff like that 12-pack Waste Station miniature and the "Torsoscope". Now that’s art. [Laughs]

You’ve been chosen by Steven Spielberg as one of the Top 50 Emerging Directors. What’s the story there? Jeff Speed: I saw the contest and submitted a short film. They liked it so I got a call telling me I had to make another film and submit it in six days. I had no money so I conjured up a simple, creative idea and shot a 3-minute film called "Se Voir", for like 45 bucks. That film landed me in the final top 50 and a spot on the show. I think there was something like 15,000 submissions, so I was pretty excited. Got the axe after the round of 25. Met some cool people from that experience.

OK, next heavy metal project? Jeff Speed: Nothing booked yet but Chris and I have a wish list. GWAR, Ghost, Judas Priest (if they put out another album) and the next Municipal Waste project to name a few. This list goes on and on as well so if any bands out there are interested in collaborating on a video then contact us at HaloOfFlies.net.

** For more on Jeff Speed, please visit his website by clicking HERE.

Comment