During the summer of 2013, Bret Bender and Maddie Miller of Bogan Via released their music video for "Kanye." Directed by Freddie Paull of Electric Legend Pictures, this dark storyline portrays a Bonnie-and-Clyde-type duo who robs Phoenix's own beloved Revolver Records of their register money and some unreleased Kanye West albums. When they get caught, Miller is beaten and taken away to a warehouse where we last see her tied to a chair with gasoline being poured on her. The scene ends with Bender walking in with a smirk while a match is being struck; hinting it was all a plan for Bender to eliminate Miller from the picture.
From there, the video took off on a whirlwind. "Kanye" received local love from Valley Hype, YabYum, AZ Music Matters, The Spec Blog, Electric Mustache, and even here. The video won Electric Legend the "AZ Filmmakers of the Year" award from RAW Artists, and even garnered attention overseas.
Now, Bogan Via are gearing up for an even darker sequel to their previously successful music video, for their song "Gatsby." They willl premiere the video at FilmBar on Wednesday, September 24, and will perform at Summer Ends Music Festival on Sunday, September 28.
"When the idea for making a sequel to 'Kanye' came up, we all immediately knew there was no turning back," Bender says.
Joining forces again with Paull was easy work. "This is our fourth video together, and I feel like we grow closer with each video," Paull says. "As a director, they're wonderful to work with, not only because Maddie is an experienced actor, but because they're willing to do the most ridiculous things for the sake of the film. They're fine with dressing in a suit or leather jackets in the Arizona summer if it means the shot will turn out well."
And the feeling is mutual. "We really can't put into words how wonderful Freddie, Zach and the whole Electric Legend team are," explains Miller. "They always go above and beyond in every aspect of the video; the attention to detail is incredible."
Since the video for "Kanye" was edgy and dark, Paull decided to continue that theme. The audience never saw what happened after Bender left Miller to burn, so we're left with an idea that she's dead. But Paull had other ideas: a violent revenge.
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"I wrote the story using the same process as all my projects," Paull explains. "I sit and listen to the music, and let the flow and energy of the song tell the story in my head. Dynamic songs are the best for me to work with because the ebb and flow almost seems to create a story by itself. ...The images and story would never have come to me if it wasn't for their brilliantly stirring compositions."
However, making the next video bigger and better was going to be a challenge. And what better way to kick it up a notch or two than by incorporating drugs, violence, motorcycle stunts, and filming internationally?
Paull was in the process of planning an escape to Istanbul to visit an old friend with his creative partner and producer, Mark Gabriel, when he received a phone call from Bender and Miller. "They wanted to do a video for 'Gatsby,' and I saw it as the perfect excuse to explore the idea of what happened after Bret made his decision at the end of 'Kanye,'" Paull says.
It ended up paying off, since Paull describes Istanbul as an "absolutely incredible place, one of the most cinematically stunning cities I've ever been to."
No studios or sets were used in "Gatsby," but instead, a dining room turned into a Turkish hut, a warehouse turned into a drug factory, and the desert remained hot and miserable as ever. Miller explains the main struggle with most of the scenes: "We were in the desert or in a warehouse in leather and turtlenecks. It was pretty hot." However, Bender defends that they "feel so privileged to work alongside folks who put so much passion in their art."
Bogan Via invited Up on the Sun on set to watch what goes on behind the scenes of one of the more intense locally shot music videos, the most hardcore parts of which can only be seen on the Director's Cut version.
The scene is Gabriel's dining room, which is now covered in scarves from floor to ceiling. What started as a rickety, vintage kitchen setting in Tempe has now been transformed into a sketchy Turkish hut, where Miller seeks her revenge against backstabbing Bender. The house is filled with film crew and helpful friends to assist whenever a request is made. Gabriel's living room has been converted into the equipment storage, with cameras and lights and cables everywhere; while his bedroom became the room for makeup touch-ups and a general room to escape and recharge, as it was the coldest room in the house. Inside the "Turkish hut" is Miller sitting at a table across from Patrick Morrison, who portrayed a drug dealer masquerading as a fortune teller who knows the whereabouts of Bender. While Miller has no dialogue during the introduction scene, her actions speak louder than any words she could mutter. Morrison tries reluctantly to decipher Miller's mission, until it's made clear through a photograph of Bender and a knife being struck through his palm that she is seeking Bender's location to conduct revenge.
While most of the storyline is uncomfortable to discuss, Bender and Miller were enthusiastic about stepping outside of their comfort zone because, ultimately, they trust Paull. Miller states that they like to "let Freddie, Zach and their team take the reins, but at the end of the day we all make sure everyone is happy and on the same page," and Bender agrees. "We really like to give Freddie a platform to explore his own ideas." One of those most exhilarating scenes is when Miller goes on a killing rampage in a drug factory.
"It's like a slip-and-slide through a slaughterhouse," Paull explains.
When asked about some of the challenges of making this video, Paull responded with safety being a huge concern. "A lot of the bike stunt shots involved driving at ridiculously high speeds through the streets of Istanbul. Tugrul, our main stunt driver, fishtailed slightly a couple of times and my heart must have skipped about 3 beats."
Safety was not just a concern for the crew, but also the equipment. "One of our drones crashed during our aerial photography," Paull sadly admits. "Another malfunctioned and almost dropped the camera attached to it when the gimbal broke. One of the drones flew out of range and had to be guided back to its landing spot automatically by its GPS and risked landing in the murky water of the Bosphorus."
Another challenge for this video was time.
"All the aerial shots had to be planned out extensively," explains Paull, "which was quite stressful given that we only had about 16 hours to shoot with the camera team we had flown out from the Syrian border." But when filming in Arizona, Paull still suffered time constraints. "With Bogan Via about to release their new singles, we only had a three-day window to get all their shots in between them recording in New York and gigging in Los Angeles." But he did admit that although there were a lot of late nights, "[Bogan Via] were real troopers about it."
Indeed, the troopers that make up Bogan Via are waiting anxiously for the debut of their newest masterpiece. As Bender predicts, "I haven't seen the final product yet, but I definitely feel like this one could blow 'Kanye' out of the water."
The music video premiere for "Gatsby" will be hosted at FilmBar on Wednesday, September 24 at 7:30pm. Tickets for the event are five dollars and can be purchased on the FilmBar website. The band requests formal attire, but it is not mandatory. And, not only will you see the video in its entirety, but also a behind-the-scenes Director's Cut, exclusively for the premiere only, as well as a few surprises over the course of the evening.
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