Haines locals Burl Sheldon, Nancy Berland and Gene Cornelius this year created two music videos: “Heartbeat” and “/the.cloud/,” which they’ve now shared with the world on YouTube.
Berland wrote “/the.cloud/,” a song that pokes fun at society’s attachment to social media and smart devices, after a trip to the Lower 48 during which she witnessed “how people don’t interact with each other anymore, tuned into their little devices.” Once done, she thought it would make a fun video to post online. She and her husband Sheldon contacted friend and videographer Cornelius about making a film. She gave him the lyrics and the two of them discussed her vision for the project.
“We had a basic outline and other things came up as we were piecing things together. … It was a question of having the lyrics on one side of the paper and then matching them with what we wanted to make the video look like,” Berland said.
The final product presents clips of Sheldon singing interspersed with short comedic skits to accompany the lyrics. There’s flying devices, exploding tech and Siri being tucked into bed. Berland said the music video, like the song, is supposed to be ridiculous.
“It was really fun,” Cornelius said about the overall experience. “Part of the reason it was fun was because my normal work as videographer is a stock videographer and I never really know what I’m going to shoot next, so it was very cool to be involved in something with a very specific concept behind it. …It was cool designing what we want to see then making it happen.”
He and Berland would bounce ideas off each other. Cornelius had to get creative several times throughout filming, like piling a bunch of equipment into a box and placing it on an elevator for one scene, or for another, repeatedly dropping a can of hash to get the right shot. He also got to play with special effects, like having a bald eagle fly off with a notorious Twitter user’s toupee.
“I apologize to the world that I didn’t make a ‘Making of /the.cloud/’ because it would have been pretty interesting,” he said.
The music video has so far received close to 5,000 views.
Sheldon and Berland are no strangers to writing music. They co-wrote the album “Busy Makin’ Money’ which Sheldon recorded in 2007. On that album is the song “Heartland,” written by Sheldon. It’s an idea that’s been brewing for decades. He was new to Juneau in 1988 and fell in with the local music community. A year later, when the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened, Sheldon and a bunch of locals took the ferry and then drove a bus all the way to the Prince William Sound community to play while the cleanup was ongoing. It was Sheldon’s first time north of Juneau and the scenery captured him.
“It’s really very, very spectacular,” he said. “That’s where I started writing that song. It’s not the song you hear now but it’s the idea.”
He recorded the song in his home studio, accompanied Eric Holle on mandolin and John Staub on bowed bass in 2007, but it was 10 years later before he and Berland approached Cornelius about doing a music video for “Heartbeat” as well.
“Heartbeat’s” video is a collection of nature clips Cornelius has filmed in Southeast Alaska, Homer, and Canada over the last seven years. It was hard not so much from a technical standpoint but from an interpretive one, he said. He wanted each clip connected with the lyrics as well as the preceding and following scene in some way, though sometimes that connection is slight, he said.
Cornelius said he found the process edifying and suspects it’s likely that the three of them will collaborate again in the future.
“I’m definitely not against the idea of doing it on a fairly consistent basis just because two things happen with that. It keeps my creative juices flowing. It challenges me. It’s fun. I get a few shots that I wouldn’t have shot otherwise and ideas for shots I wouldn’t’ have otherwise had. It’s kind of a cool thing but it definitely does take a lot out of someone’s schedule to do that. I would say there’s a good chance it’ll happen again. We’ll see what (Berland) comes up with because she is the idea person,” he said.
“Heartbeat” cane be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8bPdwOuyY4
“/the.cloud/” can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdnRwJrahOo
The “Busy Makin’ Money” album can be found on CD Baby and iTunes.