Thursday, October 2, 2014

"The Enemy? Yeah, Can't Touch This"

The answers in these questions are candid, and used as a way to promote the music video that remains unfinished.

Principal photography on the "Can't Touch This" Christian parody started on April 23rd, 2014, and production still continues off and on due to revisions and availability issues. No one has a way of knowing how much is left to do, until it has already been done and the finished product reveals itself to it's creators.
Both main crew members on the project talk about the process as a whole, and trying to get the word out about it.

Ryan Galdo
Songwriter, co-director, performer, and music editor

When did this start? Where did the inspiration for this song come from?
RG: Hmm... the inspiration for the song... Well, I was just starting to grow in my faith, and I think I'd just got done reading the Word. And I was also exploring new ways of rapping. And I was just scrolling through my library of instrumentals, and I came across the "Can't Touch This" instrumental 'cause my friend Sean gave me a whole bunch of instrumentals back in the day so I could learn how to rap. And then I came across this "Can't Touch This" instrumental and I'm like "Hmm..."
Gotta be honest, it was--- it was more like divine inspiration-slash-intervention coming in and just, it popped out at me and it's like "Ah, yeah, I should do that." And so, that was my inspiration, 'cause honestly the big guy is my inspiration for everything. And, that's how I just started writing the song. I started just free-flowing and free-styling, and just kind of let it flow out naturally as I was writing it. And I just started out with only two verses, originally, and then it turned into a full-on song.

What gave you the idea to make it into a music video?
RG: Well, these were the stages of what happened with this particular song. First, it just started out with two verses [to the song]. And then I had a couple ad-libs in there, and I was going to a professional recording studio in Philly. I had a little bit of time at the end of the recording session and it was like "here, I want to try laying down lyrics to this song." So I give the producer the instrumental, he puts it into a system and then I go in and I rap over top of it.
The next day I finished writing the rest of the lyrics, and then went back in the next night to the recording studio and recorded the rest of it. So I was like, "Ok. I have a full song right here." I can't sell it because of copyright laws, but I can put it up on YouTube. And so, if I'm gonna get this song out there, it should have a music video; if I want it to be up on YouTube, and it should be good, should have a music video. And that was the thought process.

In terms of scale, how big do you consider this video? What are your hopes for it?
RG: Hmmm... Dangerous question right there. Because I can't possibly know what tomorrow's gonna bring, I can't boast about tomorrow saying "Yeah we're gonna do this and we're gonna make this really big." What I can say is that if the Lord wills it, then He will take this to some awesome levels. Really this song is in His hands since He was the source of inspiration for it in the first place. Personally, I would hope that it goes viral. But that's a hope. I don't know exactly how He's going to do it, but this song's in His hands. So whatever He has done with it, He has done with it.

How do you think fans of the original song will react to this?
RG: (with a laugh) Well apparently MC Hammer is a minister now. So, I think that MC Hammer will really get a kick out of it. I think he'll love this remake, because now he's all about Jesus and... well, actually I don't know if he's all about Jesus, I can't pass that judgement. All I know is that he's gotten into ministry so... I think he'll get a kick out of it. As for fans, I've played it--- like  last night I played it and did a rap of it at Keystone. And this person who I played it for was singing the "Can't Touch This." And so he likes the song, but then I did the remake of it for him, and they were really getting into it. They were like, "OH, YO! YES! That's some truth", and they're laughing along with it. So I think they're gonna respond well. Again, I can't brag about tomorrow. I mean, I hope that they respond well. So far it's gotten great responses, and I've even had people request that I do it a couple times. So yeah, it's gotten some solid responses.

What about those who never heard of the original?
RG: (laughing) They just might think that I made that song originally.  But for those who haven't heard the original, then they're gonna see that and the song can stand on its own without people knowing the original. But that song's, like, way too popular for people to not know the original.

As far as production, what do you have left? Any big plans for more shooting?
RG: Here it is. We need a big group of people doing the main dance move; putting their hands up, "Jesus..." boogie to the side, "Jesus", boogie to the side. We need a huge crowd for that, and I want to get a whole bunch of believers together. People who are strongly rooted in Christ, who--- when this video gets out, they can be strong in their faith, to be able to stand with the message of the song. And that's really important. But I do want to get a giant group of dancers. I want to get maybe some extra shots of individual dancers, like a small group of more skilled talented dancers together, because the people who we just recorded earlier...

I have to be careful about who gets included in this video, because their name [their face] is going to be attached to a message that is all about Christ, and being able to stand strong with the armor of God. And if I have people on there who don't know how to put on the full armor of God and stand strong against the devil, then that's gonna be a problem. And that's gonna come back and that's gonna hurt them. It's gonna come back and it's gonna hurt the music ministry as a whole, and so I have to be very wary about how this is done. Everybody who I'm doing this with has to know how to put on the full armor of God, because that's one of the main themes of the song right there, and how to be strong soldiers for Christ. So I might have to rerecord some sections with other individuals who have already been recorded for it, just so that this whole process remains pure. That's gong to be real important. And if I have to cut people out because their lives are not reflecting Christ, I will do so, because that's really important. If their lives aren't reflecting Christ and God ends up taking this music ministry to a whole new level, then I too am going to be held accountable for that.

So, it's a high calling, and it has to be treated with care and it has to be treated responsibly. Just a couple minutes ago I let my manager go, because God revealed to me some of the condition of his heart and how it's not fully set upon Him. And that right there could easily work its way into the music and what I'm doing, and everything that I do will probably be watched. And so I have to be careful with who I let be a part of this. Because if I have someone involved in these projects whose life is not all about Christ and who can put their name upon something like this, and then say "yeah I was a part of that" but then their actions and their words reflect that there's something else coming from their heart, then that totally deflates and poisons the ministry as a whole. And I can't have that.

People who are in this have to be held accountable [like, spiritually] for what we're doing 'cause this is spreading the name of Christ, and this is a pretty bold song. This song has some very bold statements in it. And so, if there's someone in there who's not all about Christ or has something in his heart--- and I'm not saying that I'm anything better either, 'cause God's been working with me to refine my heart, to make sure that it's intentions are more pure. And if there's something in me, that needs to be pointed out. Yeah, please. Please point it out so that it may be refined, because I want to make sure that my intentions and my heart is still pure and completely focused upon God, so that "the enemy can't touch this." And that's how it's gonna have to be with everyone else because anyone else who's on this... it's very likely the enemy's gonna come after them because they're a part of this giant taunt to the devil, which is why we need to know how to put on the full armor of God.

So yes, I do plan on getting a bigger shoot and having a big dance scene of things going on, having some other strong dancers, but they gotta really be strongly rooted in Christ. That's what's most important, 'cause this is a big opportunity right here. This song has a lot of potential, but it needs to be done with a pure heart, and pure spirit.

Derek Bartlett
Cinematographer, co-director, and video editor

How did you get involved in this project?
DB: I'd heard him play the song on his mac book at one of our hot chocolate giveaways. Eventually he sort of came up to me and asked to help him shoot a music video for it. And how could I refuse, with the 'reputation' I'd gotten with a camera? I'd done a lot of music videos with movies [like The Hobbit] as well as footage from my own cameras. I've never done one like this, though, and it's a bit of a challenge. But he knows that, so it takes some of the pressure off me. Especially when he answers my questions and suggestions about what he wants on screen.

There are some pretty high [but not at all boastful] hopes for this video. Do you think it'll succeed?
DB: Well, duh! Of course Ryan has high hopes for it. And so do I. Our inside joke when we started shooting was, we kept saying that it was gonna make people forget about Gangnam Style. I think that tells you how hard we're working at it, and obviously we want it to be good. It's not something we can just throw together in a couple weeks. We need to sort of take our time to make sure we don't have anything less than awesome. We're not being paid for it or anything, so it's not like there's some guy telling us "move, move, move, we have a deadline to meet!"
That's the main reason we don't edit the video together. As an editor I need to be able to relax and experiment however I can, and I'm sure it's the same way with him. If there's someone else sitting there watching over my shoulder, there's a negative sense of urgency involved. And I figure we kind of evened out the work anyways. Ryan does the audio stuff and I take care of the video.

As the video editor do you feel the weight of responsibility for the themes of the song, and the people in it?
DB: Definitely. I mean, Ryan's really enthusiastic and has lots of ideas for how he wants the video to look and sound. A lot of times, but not all the time, I'll tell him what sort of edits I think would look cool and see what he thinks. Other times it's mostly done by instinct and just adapting his vision however I can. So you could say that my responsibility is to follow his responsibility.
The post-production work basically happens off-and-on during production, and it can be a little unpredictable. For instance he'll send me a revised version of the song, and I have to try and get it fitted to make sure it's synced up exactly the same way, because of small details like the way his mouth moves. Offset lip-syncing can really kill a music video, and the performance alone, so that's a thing I need to make sure doesn't happen.

The first thing I did for the video was, I synced up a video of him (performing the full song) to the audio file, and trimmed a bit of both to make sure it was set right. Luckily he had the song playing while rapping so we could get it timed right on camera.
Anything after that just involves inserting clips from different shooting periods in there. So it's kind of like adding layers, and making sure the audio and video stays lined up.

How close would you say the video is to being done?
DB: Well, not exactly close. More like we have no freakin' idea how far we are from being finished. The way it usually goes is, we'll plan a certain time for shooting something we planned ahead of time, and then I need to wait till we get a good amount of footage from it before I can continue editing.
When I do this in my spare time with movies, I know just what footage I have to work with, and how much is available. But in this case we've got no clue how much more we'll end up filming. It's kind of like trying to read a book with half the pages ripped out.
So it's better to sort of take it a step at a time, so we know which video clips work for the song and which ones don't. We have a ton of footage already, and any tech nerd knows videos take up a lot of space. Pictures don't, though. That's why I'm trying to take some still images to add into it here and there.

Long story short, we're not gonna shoot something unless we know it'll look great.