Josh Groom is an experienced and multi-talented Sydney creative whose diverse skill set encompasses direction, production, editing and writing. Gaining proficiency across a variety of formats over the past 12 years, Josh has worked on music videos, documentaries, TVCs, news items, trailers, corporate videos, shorts, feature films and promo spots.
Since going freelance, Josh has specialized in overseeing music videos for artists he is passionate about. He’s worked on varied projects with vastly differing budgets, and is keen to continue challenging himself to inventively articulate exceptional music through this visual medium. He has directed, written and edited popular clips for Angus & Julia Stone (‘Babylon’ and ‘Just a Boy’), Yves Klein Blue (‘About the Future’), Birds of Tokyo (‘Wild Eyed Boy’), Sneaky Sound System (‘UFO’) and The John Steel Singers (‘Overpass’).
He won an IF award for Best Music Video (2008) and has received nominations for an ARIA and J award.
Director: Josh Groom
Band: The Snowdroppers
Video: White Dress
What inspired your idea for the video?
This is the kind of music video I have always wanted to make. I've been a splatter movie junkie since I was a teenager, and the old school exploitation horror films of the 80s have long been close to my heart.
I grew up in the dark and dusty corner of the video store horror section, renting shitty VHS copies of Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Evil Dead and Halloween. Being given the opportunity to create something in this genre was an absolute pleasure and something I could not possibly pass up.
What are some of your favorite horror films?
My favorite all time horror flicks would have to include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Wolf Creek, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shining, Evil Dead, Halloween and Friday the 13th part 4: The Final Chapter.
How were you approached for the job?
One of my best mates plays bass for the band and we've been looking for the right project to collaborate on together for a few years now. On his recommendation, I received a phone call from Cougar Jones (drums), and he explained to me the band wanted to do something in the genre, and he even had a rough idea of the framework for the narrative.
He and I shared a common vision for what this clip could be and he encouraged me to take it to some very dark, yet tongue-in-cheek places. I took a few notes, went home and spent the weekend throwing every sick, bloodthirsty and twisted idea at the wall, thankfully most of them stuck and all of them left a mark...
What was the budget?
It was a low budget. I won't say a specific number, because music videos cannot be sustainably made for this sort of budget and I'd hate to set a precedent. Thankfully, lots of my co-contributors loved the song, the concept and the genre and came on board to make this passion project possible. It would have been an ambitious project for twice the budget - but having a great producer in your corner is half the battle.
What were the limitations you faced with the production?
Well, first off, as previously discussed - the budget - but that's no surprise in a music video these days. The availability of the band and my travel schedule was the second major hurdle to overcome. I was leaving the country for a 2 month road trip in the USA (I am currently writing this from a truck stop in Austin, Texas on our way to New Orleans for Halloween) and the whole band were only available for one weekend in Sydney, just two weeks before I left.
This meant that the ingest, edit, grade, VHS degradation and delivery process would all need to take place in just 10 days. This seemingly insurmountable obstacle was overcome thanks to our incredible editor Aaron Petersen and the unbelievable support of Postbox Sydney. Aaron did an incredible job, cutting two versions of the clip within a week, graded the project and oversaw the degradation process. His talents and skills were invaluable.
Who were your key collaborators?
The key collaborators were headed up by Glenn Hanns, my DOP for all my music videos thus far. A brilliant cinematographer and a great friend. He's a brilliant guy to have on set and our long working relationship has established a communication shorthand which comes in very handy on these fast moving, high-setup-count shoots. His lighting and ability to create tension or beauty in an angle choice or camera move is exceptional.
Adam Cantley was the producer, another fantastic guy who even managed to keep a straight face when I talked him through the ridiculously ambitious treatment and then told him the budget. Nnot only that, he got it done, ahead of time.
The special effects and makeup department was Makeup Effects Group whom I'd encountered last year whilst working on the feature horror film, Redd Inc. Headed up by the unflappable and delightfully deviant Mariel McClorey. These guys gave the gore that glorious 80s aesthetic and in-camera realism.
Our production designer was Chris Tselepi, who did an incredible job dressing out 13 different scenes, with antique, unusual and individual props... always serving the narrative and never distracting. He also lit somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 tea candles.
Tell us about your production process?
The production process was a lot of long hours, over the course of one massive weekend. We shot Friday night, our only location stuff in the graveyard. From dark till 1am, then on set in the house of horrors from 8am Saturday till 11pm and finally 7am Sunday till 3am the following morning.
Despite these seemingly gruelling hours, spirits on set were good, very good in fact. It was probably the most fun I've ever had on a shoot. I suppose it helped that there were body parts, blood and nudity in almost every sequence. I must remember this formula for keeping the morale of a crew on a high. There was an all-pervasive sick and twisted sense of humour and everybody seemed happy to marinate in the filthy good times.
The cast, including the gorgeous/amazing Nikki Collins as the corpse bride and the band as ghoulish versions of themselves, were incredibly enthusiastic and always prepared to go the extra mile for the sake of a shot. Except for Johnny Wishbone, who cried like a little bitch when he had to climb into the cold bath tub filled with blood. I'm kidding of course, in fact Jonny's manic performance (reminiscent of a young Bruce Campbell) was key to pulling off the tone and content of the clip without spilling over into Cannibal Corpse territory.
We kept the most complicated sequences till last. Shooting the band performance on Sunday morning and the wedding sequence Sunday evening.
We decided at the start that we wanted the VHS look to be as organic as possible, so once the edit and grade was complete we played the clip out onto VHS tape. Then dubbed that VHS tape onto itself 5 times, each time losing a generation and keeping each step of the process as we went. We then ingested all these VHS versions back into the Avid, giving ourselves digital control over the analogue degradation.
As I said before, the turnaround was 10 days from shoot to delivery. Thankfully, we had about a month of pre-production to get ready for the sprint to the finish line.
Here is a little teaser with some behind the scenes material.
What did you shoot with?
Canon 5D mk3
How involved were the band and label?
The band were very supportive of the concept and process. The band manager, Dan Hennessey, was perhaps a little perplexed at the choice of genre. Not being a big fan of horror himself, but he certainly gave us all the room we needed to create something that everyone was happy with. To be safe, we shot and finished two versions of the clip. A PG (TV-Friendly) version and the explicit R-Rated Version.
In the end, the label decided that they would lead with the R-Rated version which was the best possible outcome for me as it was the showpiece for all the good stuff that I love about the treatment... ie all the demented and perverted stuff.
If you had a chance to approach it again, what would you do differently?