29
Nov
2023
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Michael Chait, Ryan Urban Team Up on Visually Stunning Music Video for Big Time Rush

Everybody is working for the weekend. In this case, a talented collective teamed up in Detroit to bring the latest hit from pop quartet Big Time Rush entitled Weekends – to the screen. The video marks the latest collaboration between Director Michael B. Chait and Chicago-based Visual Effects Supervisor Ryan Urban since their ambitious and scintillating war thriller movie Wolf Hound. Chait and Urban stopped by SCREEN to share the music video and take us behind the scenes of this vibrant and stylish music video production, which has already topped 200,000 views worldwide.

First things first, let’s take a look at the video for Weekends, from Big Time Rush’s new album Another Life.

Urban and Chait Get the Band Back Together

After Director Michael Chait and VFX Supervisor Ryan Urban collaborated on the aforementioned 2022 World War II thriller Wolf Hound (which actually starred Big Time Rush frontman James Maslow), teaming up for Weekends was an easy decision. “When I find people I click with that both have similar tastes movie-wise and also are incredible artists and craftsman, I try to keep using the same key team members as much as possible on every project,” Chait shared with SCREEN. “I’ve developed very, very strong teams from pre- to post-production, and Ryan is a ringer – his work is always A-List and excellent regardless of limitations, there’s a reason The Wachowskis and many other top directors and producers keep coming back to him for VFX!!!”

[Editor’s note: here is more about Ryan Urban’s work with the Wachowskis and our exclusive interview with Ryan]

“We had a great pipeline Ryan created for Wolf Hound and communication quickly became shorthand,” Chait mentioned to SCREEN. “That was both my first feature film and the first VFX heavy project I’ve directed, he really guided me through the process and how to do it right. I learned a lot along the way, especially what minutia to pay attention to that really matters, and certain things that just bleed time and money that audiences will never see, and to move on and not focus on unnecessary pixels.”

The Evolution of the Ghost Girl

At the heart of Weekends is the Ghost Girl. Chait’s love of James Bond title sequences and action movies from the 80s and 90s drew him to the visual concept of a ghost-like female figure, representing a girl who “ghosts” each of the band members. “The concept of the ‘Ghost Girl’ [played by actor Jenna Koryn] came about due to both myself as the director, and all four members of the band, being frustrated at the generic “story” ideas, or secondary scene footage to cut to aside from their main performance scene – everything we were pitching felt generic, been there done that and seen already in decades of music videos,” Chait declared to SCREEN. “My main passion has always been movies, so I tried to think of something more cinematic and ambitious to show the audience, but still hopefully doable on a very short two-day filming schedule.”  

Urban shared Chait’s ambitious vision for the piece. “We didn’t have anything like the time or budget of a feature film like Predator. Mike and I had to come up with an approach that would give us the high-end result we were looking for, even with such a fast-paced shoot. A lot of detail had to be captured in-camera, which we could then play with in comp.”

Here are some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the production (Photos by Co-Producer/Photographer Ami Nicole)…

So what did the four gents of Big Time Rush think of the idea? “I actually had many conversations in a short amount of time with Ryan [Urban] to make sure what I was going to pitch would be doable, how we’d likely do it, the cost and time etc., before even thinking of telling the band,” Chait shared with SCREEN. “When Ryan was sure we could pull it off, I tested the idea on several key crew members, close friends and the producing team first. Everyone loved it, so I told James Maslow and when he loved the concept, we got on the phone and I tried to be as visually descriptive as possible, all the while assuring them it would look badass and incredible, and that it literally is showing exactly what they’re singing about: they’re at a club trying to have fun and be with their friends to get over the girls that are ghosting them.”

“I’m honestly still amazed at how awesome, big and movie-quality the Ghost Girl shots are every time I watch the music video!,” director Chait declared. “I was asking for “Predator” and “The Abyss” on a tiny fraction of the budget, time and tools, and what Ryan and the Nexodus Team delivered is astonishing. I felt like I was looking at shots from a 7 figure or higher budget feature film, and couldn’t believe that our silver body painted actress had been transformed into a see-through, heavily detailed and textured ghost girl, looking like something out of a blockbuster and holding up at 4K UHD resolution.”

Behind the Scenes

The music video was filmed in the Greater Detroit area, with Pine Knob Music Theater serving as the backdrop for the concert footage. Story elements were filmed at Detroit rock venue The Magic Stick, within the legendary The Majestic Theatre.

“What Mike is able to put together in such a short amount of time is remarkable.” says Urban. Working closely with Director of Photography Camrin Petramale and crew, Chait quickly put together some striking shots. The camera team used the Arri Alexa Mini Camera with Primo Anamorphic Close Focus lenses by Panavision. Later graded by Tyler Roth at Company 3.

The pair looked into silver body paint, applied to the performer by makeup artist Jamie Gasper. “The body paint exaggerated details for the camera, creating this interesting, otherworldly look against the surroundings,” described Urban.

Here are more exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the production (Photos by Co-Producer/Photographer Ami Nicole)…

Gaffer Neil Adamson helped push the lighting, with more pronounced back lighting and added colors of rim light to make the performer stand out in each shot. The silver body paint on the performer also helped accentuate the effect of the lighting. “It was great to see this in-camera, on the day” says Urban. “We wanted to be sure that the viewer could make out what they were seeing behind the effect. Having Jenna [the performer] covered in silver paint gave us more details that would play into the effect, while still having her human form driving that part of the story.”

Given the tight turnaround, Urban leaned into the team at NEXODUS to deliver the VFX shots in the video. “Their VFX pipeline is top notch, easy to use and fully buttoned up, which allowed us to focus on the creative. The work also had the full gamut of needs, so tapping into a team with a diverse roster of artists and production support was going to be helpful.”

[Editor’s Note: NEXODUS is a remote full-service visual effects studio, which allows Urban and the team to work from anywhere. To find out more about Nexodus, visit their website: nexod.us]

“We didn’t do any concept art. Mike had plenty of references and I was grateful he was going to trust me and my team and the process.

Plenty of Viewership on Weekdays and Weekends

The music video has been a popular destination on YouTube so far, already attracting 200,000 views on the band’s channel, which is steadily approaching three million subscribers.

Looking back on the collaboration in Detroit and what the team was able to pull off in two quick days with a relatively small budget, Urban summarized the effort perfectly, declaring, “With the right artists, tools and planning, anything is possible.”

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