No, It’s Not A Sex Tape

But, my husband and I DID star in a video. Now let me explain before you start getting the wrong impression and thinking we’re some wild, swinging, key-party couple. It was only 1 video. It’s not like either one of us is Hollywood bound. No hidden, on-camera talent was discovered. In fact, neither of us is really even that photogenic! (Sorry Honey) Wait, I don’t have to be sorry, he doesn’t even read this blog:)

It’s all my sister’s fault. At the time she was wrapping up her undergrad as a broadcast journalism major at the University of Lincoln. (She’s now a successful social worker with a masters—if that’s any indication of how far her broadcast career took her). As a final project for one of her classes she was required to film a music video. Immediately she knew the song, Please Forgive Me from the amazing David Gray album, White Ladder. Beautiful lyrics mixed with a pulsing, toe-tapping, get-stuck-in-your-head backbeat.

Next up was a theme for the video. Her vision was of two people passing through life and always missing each other. A shot of feet walking past each other, or people crossing paths with no recognition. Not until the final frame, when the song goes into this amazing musical fade out, will the couple meet face to face. And it will feel like a reunion, even though they’ve never met, and the camera will pan out and catch them in a dramatic, moving 360 degree turn.

Doesn’t sound too shabby, right?

The only problem here is that my sister is NOT A VIDEOGRAPHER. I’m not crushing any dreams right now, it’s just the truth! And what she discovered was that, in order to cobble together a 5 minute and 36 second video (geez, Laura, could you pick a longer song?!), over 5 hours and 36 minutes of film had to be taken! Oh ya, and she also had to find two willing schmucks to star in her debut film.

Enter Jennifer and Mike.

Dating about 4 months at the time and freshly off our first “I Love You’s” we were prime for emanating those uber romantic vibes. Not to mention the fact that I was leaving for the summer to be a camp counselor in Wisconsin, so this video was like a touching farewell. Something we could cling to over the days and weeks we were apart, missing each other so dearly, sitting in front of a tv screen with our fingers grazing the face of our beloved and whispering “I miss you so much!”

Mkay. Let’s just say that my now husband isn’t usually the overly emotional or dramatic type. He was not consulted about participating in this video, just enthusiastically volunteered.

My sister’s first question when I agreed to a day of filming was, “Does he have any shirts that don’t have stripes?” I think the answer was, “no.”

Our shoot began at a downtown business park. She had us criss-crossing through brick pillars, not looking at one another, and she stood back with her old-school, 20lb, on a tripod video camera and took various shots of our feet and swinging limbs. All the while yelling at me, “Jennifer, stop smiling! Look lovelorn and lost!” Mike didn’t have any problem with the no smiling rule. Half hour in and he was already bored.

Problem with this location was that, since it was company property, the establishment seemed to frown upon random kids videotaping anything on the premises. A uniformed guard eyeballed us warily for a little while and then, kindly, escorted us to our car.

Next up, a huge park with rolling hills and gardens. Director’s instructions to me? “Jennifer, sit on this bench and pluck the petals off this flower, all the while staring off into the distance as if wondering when you’re true love is going to arrive. Look stoic, but hopeful.”

WHAT? You seriously expect me to pluck petals off of a flower while my boyfriend looks on and random passersby point and stare, and not dissolve into fits of laughter? She must have tried to shoot this portion of the video a dozen times. My face constantly in an unattractive scrunch, trying to hold the laughter in before it burst free into tear-filled guffaws.

And, now that I think about it. I don’t even think I was sitting on a bench. I think she had me on my stomach with my legs kicked up in the air, like I was getting high school senior pictures taken. Would YOU have been able to keep a straight face?

Now, as all industrious film students are aware, you don’t always shoot things in order of appearance. So the final 360 shot followed the flower petal plucking. The director stuck us in the middle of a public park and requested that we kiss each other while she moved her clunky camera to no less than 15 different spots around us.

Kiss each other. In public. For, like, a half hour. Did I mention that my husband isn’t much of an exhibitionist? He’s wonderful and loving and all for PDA’s…minus the P portion. Plus it was hot outside and I think there were bugs, and tarantulas and lighting and any other thing you can think of that would make the situation even more awkward than it already was.

By this time we’d been running around town for about 4 hours and my loving counterpart was ready to call it quits and beeline home for a beer (or 20). But Laura was worried that we didn’t have enough film to finish the video, and she was hoping to get some more guy-centric shots.

We headed to a local man-made lake where the plan was to have Mike skipping rocks across the water. This was to add some literal imagery to the video to pair up with the lyrics:

Throw a stone and watch the ripples flow

Moving out across the bay

Like a stone I fall into your eyes

Deep into some mystery

Beautiful, right? Well, the only looks I was getting from my boyfriend were far from mysterious. He was getting closer to throwing that stone deep into my skull.

We wrapped up with a few more shots of us walking towards each other on a bridge and a full-frontal of me lip-syncing the entire song so that Laura could fill in blank spots with visuals of my sweat-stained face pretending to know the words to a song I had just heard for the first time that morning. I’m a natural.

I think, in the end, she got a B+ on the video. Nothing to scoff at. Their one complaint was “Why is only the female lip syncing throughout the video? How come you don’t have the guy as well?” Laura didn’t think it was worth explaining, “Well, at that point, if I had asked the guy to do ANYTHING else, all the film and video equipment might have ended up at the bottom of the lake.”

I said my oh-so-romantic goodbye’s to Mike and headed off to Wisconsin with a heavy heart. But I was excited about the fact that in a few weeks, a VHS tape showing us in all our lovestruck glory would arrive for me to watch, in private, on a random TV in the camp auditorium one night after dinner. I popped it in and sat 3 inches from the screen, eyes welling up at the music and heart swelling up from missing him so much.  It was a masterpiece.

I immediately packed up the video and sent it to Mike’s apartment, then waited with bated breath for it to arrive and him to call me and say how amazing it was. He told me that he loved it, thought it was great, and that he missed me very much.

One of those things was true.

About 10 years later it came to light that Mike had never watched the video at all. Said he couldn’t bear to cringe his way through those 5+ minutes and just faked the reaction for my sake. Oh, well. At least the missing-me part was true. And at least that video didn’t show up at our wedding, as I seriously feared it would. Pretty sure I’d do some cringing if I had to see it now, too.

Either way, I’ll send out a big “Thank You” to my sister for the hilarious memory, if not the catapult into stardom.

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8 thoughts on “No, It’s Not A Sex Tape

  1. Uh oh. I knew this story, except one little nugget. You full-frontal lip-synced the whole song on camera? I’m sorry, what? Did you really-really? LAURA, did she really??!! Someone answer me!!

  2. Really, really! She lip-synced as she was plucking petals from a flower, lying on her side in the grass. It was glorious. And Jennifer, you bet-your-ass if I’d known where the video was, it would have aired at your rehearsal dinner. If only ConAgra had known the creative genius that was taking place on it’s property — you and Mike could have turned some heads while suits walked the premisis during lunch breaks and wondered who the celebrity couple was making out against their buildilng!

  3. Well I laughed through most of this as it really captures everyone personalities, I also thought it was so funny that I read the second half of it out loud to my roommate and we were both cracking up. Thanks for sharing Jen 🙂

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