This blog is dedicated to all things Frank – past, present and future.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Me and My Brand New Haircut" (2010)

("Me and My Brand New Haircut" starring Billy Kelly and Davy Jones of the Monkees. Directed by Frank Fusco)

Here's a little backstory... I first met Billy Kelly in junior high school. He was "the other artist" of the class and he was as big a Monkees fan as I was. We both started playing guitar around the same time, too, at the age of 16. I went to his house one day to "jam" and he enthusiastically showed me the main chord progression to "Circle Sky" by The Monkees – he'd just learned it. Some time after that, I gave Billy a nasty bald spot on his head while attempting to give him a crew cut with my electric hair clippers. I had forgotten the clippers guard at home...oops! Fast forward to today... I'm shooting a music video with him getting a haircut by Davy Jones of The Monkees. It all ads up!

On second thought, that's probably too much backstory. Here's how I got involved with this video shoot... It all started with a Facebook post by Billy letting everyone know he just recorded a song with Davy Jones of The Monkees! (I already knew he was doing this because he called my cell phone one morning while I was at IHOP with my family. Being the Monkees fan I am he had to tell me – he had to tell someone – but he made me swear to keep it a secret.) So of course everyone, including myself, responded to Billy's Facebook status congratulating him on his awesome news.

As the Facebook comments flowed, Billy offered a little more information with each response. First he let everyone know the name of the song; "Me and My Brand New Haircut" – which he described as son of "I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog". So if you're familiar with that Monkees song, it explains a lot. Later on in the thread he revealed that Davy would indeed be up for doing a video. My immediate Facebook comment... "I know a great director."

Based on the title and description of his song I couldn't help my mind from racing with a possible video scenario. I sent Billy an email with a rough draft and stressed that there was no obligations but I hoped he'd consider me for the job. His response... "Too late, man. I already chose a director. His name is Frank Fusco and he is 100% obligated to do this." Billy's a class act all the way.

After a month of back and forth emails – and wig and prop hunting – came the day to shoot the video. Early that day I shot the barber pole scene with Billy. (The barber pole at Ziegler's Barber Shop – our "Haircut" location – wasn't impressive enough so we used the exterior of another barbershop in town.) The pole was very high off the ground so we duct-taped my tripod and camera to a ladder and I climbed up. I told Bob, Billy's manager/bassist, "If I fall don't bother catching me, catch the camera!"

Later that day Davy showed up to Billy's house with his wife (a Telemundo television presenter/professional flamenco dancer) and her parents. While Davy was busy shooting the video his family was going to stroll the town and have a bite to eat. The thing is...the town of
Lewisburg Pennsylvania
is about a block long! And I had a lot of shots to cover!! The clock was ticking and the pressure had begun!!!

After quickly knocking off the "Teaser" bit at Billy's house (posted here), we made a quick stop at another location before heading over to Ziegler's Barber Shop. This other location had a large storefront window – which Ziegler's did not – for a scene where Davy watches Billy walk off after getting his haircut (see the storyboard). That scene eventually didn't make the cut.

From the moment we got to Ziegler's Barber Shop it was non-stop least for me. I wish I could say I enjoyed the shoot more than I did but I was stressing over getting my shots, working quick as lightning without time to relax and think. On top of that, I didn't take into consideration that being a barber shop Ziegler's was full of mirrors. It seemed wherever I placed my camera and lights they were reflected in a mirror! Note to self: Never shoot in a room full of mirrors again.

On the other hand, as I scurried about I was able to take in a few of Davy's jokes and stories about his Monkees past. He was pretty funny. Some may say he even monkeyed around...sorry. During one of our setups Davy mentioned he recently appeared at a film event where they screened "Head" (The Monkees movie), "Five Easy Pieces", "The King of Marvin Gardens", and "The Postman Always Rings Twice". I seemed to impress him when I replied, "Oh, a Bob Rafelson retrospective?"

About halfway through my shot list Davy's family showed up at Ziegler's Barber Shop. They'd seen Lewisburg. I internally started freaking out at that point thinking I may lose my star. But Davy being the professional he is spoke to his family and they were off again. I guess to take another lap around Lewisburg.

Now, really feeling the crunch, I cut some shots I felt were superfluous and went straight for the wig sequence. Davy really came alive during this bit and he brought a lot to the table with his improvisation. Billy, too, held his own ground and bounced off of Davy's lead. The back and forth funny exchange was exactly what I'd hoped for, and the two of them delivered.

And Davy was totally cool with the Mike Nesmith hat reference. I wasn't sure how he'd react to it – being how Nesmith is always the hold-out when it comes to Monkees reunions. That's the scene I feel Monkees fans will appreciate. (Special thanks to Billy's wife Jackie for knitting me an exact replica! It's now showcased upon my Cornelius head on my desk.)

After shooting a couple of more scenes we finally wrapped. Davy graciously posed for photos with the crew and he signed my copy of the first Monkees album – my very first album ever! It's now framed and hanging on my studio wall.

Did you happen to notice that the storyboard ending is different than the finished video ending? You're very observant. My initial idea was to reveal that Davy wasn't even the real barber. The real barber was tied up in a closet the whole time! Billy had shown some concern about the message the tied up barber would send to kids. After all, this is a children's music video. But with a little convincing on my part Billy agreed to shoot the scripted ending. But knowing he had reservations I thought of the "signed photo" alternate ending – though I didn't tell Billy it was an alternate ending at the time.

Sure enough when I sent Billy my first rough cut (complete with the tied up barber), his fears surfaced again. I totally understood where he was coming from so I replaced it with the alternate ending. It still works, plus it's a whole lot more kid friendly.

Below is an exclusive look at "Me and My Brand New Haircut" with the original ending – the director's cut. But given the sensitivities of this cut please DO NOT POST IT on any children's website, blog or even Billy's Facebook page. Thank you.

"Me and My Brand New Haircut" – the director's cut

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