It was 24 years ago when I directed my first music video with Pearl Jam. That’s a long time ago. A lot has been written and said about this video through the years. Even on YouTube people like to tell the story or at least what they think is the story behind the video. I’m going to give you 10 basic facts on who, what, why and how this happened. GO HERE TO SEE IT… http://cuffarophoto.com/pearl-jam-jeremy/
August 30th, 1991 – Had Dinner with Eddie & Beth in Seattle before the Soundgarden show at Rkcndy. This is when I told Eddie that I wanted to direct a music video because I was tired of seeing less talented fucks getting directing jobs. I knew I could do it, but needed the right band. After the Soundgarden show I asked Eddie if he thought Pearl Jam would trust me enough to do one. He was so cool and told me he would ask the guys and manager.
September 26, 1991 – I flew Beth out to Hawaii to meet me to see the “final” Jane’s Addiction show. At this point the video is a go and Beth gives me a gift from Eddie. A box with a note and the actual article from a newspaper that inspired the song. This fires me up even more and I’m so ready to go.
Back in Los Angeles we start production. My producer Valerie Druckman is on her game big time and getting me the best crew ever. We hired legendary Director of Photography Martin Coppen. He’s a badass who has worked with everyone and shot more award winning videos than anyone. The label tells me they have no plans to release the song Jeremy as a single. To raise money I sold half my guitar collection and borrow the rest from friends. My budget… 20k!
October 2nd, 1991 – A preproduction meeting with the band. Eddie and I work on the final details and concept. We create a shot list and draw up some ideas. I’m so ready for this. I have the best crew, the best band and an awesome song to work with. :-)
October 3rd, 1991 – Our first shoot day. It was with the boy who plays our Jeremy. Its an easy day and everyone is feeling good. We also prepare for the BIG shoot day with the band for the next day.
October 4th, 1991 – Time to shoot the band. My concept was to shoot each band member going through the song 4-5 times while spinning on a turntable. Everything goes smooth and each performance gets better and better. By the time we get to Eddie he is pumped and ready to go. NO lie… but after his first take everyone was blown away and some had a few tears. His performance was filled with so much passion. He poured everything he had into each take. To this day we could have used anyone of his takes for the whole video and it would have been fine with me. By the time we finish I knew that we have amazing footage and post production is going to be fun! Everyone was excited!
October 16th, 1991 – We did a telecine session at 525 Post Production (transfer film to video for editing). A few weeks later we finally get to start editing. I was super lucky, because Propaganda Films gave me FREE edit time in one of their edit bays and a editor Susan Agostinelli to work with. It took us many months to edit, because we could only work after hours and in between their real work. Susan was awesome and taught me a lot. By this time, the label tells me that they want to own the video and will reimburse me for it. I agree, but I wonder what they will do with the video. The band is blowing up and they are getting BIGGER by the day. I’m doing my best to finish and show final cut.
The band, management and label let me do what ever I wanted. I did not answer to anyone. The final cut you see is my final cut. We finished it up and I delivered it to everyone. Everyone was blown away and so happy with my final cut. The passion and performance is there from beginning to end. I did this for one simple reason… To prove to myself that I could direct a music video. I did not care if it was used or not. At the time it was a project of passion and I was lucky enough that Pearl Jam & Eddie trusted me enough to do it. I will always be grateful to them for it. It changed my life in more ways than one.
The label decided to shelve it and not use it. I was told by the label that the band was getting big and they wanted something more polished. I thought the video I made was a perfect representation of the band at the time. They had only released live videos and I know Eddie wasn’t thrilled with “polished” videos. I feel my version captures the passion of Pearl Jam in a simple creative way. They went on to make a great video with Mark Pellington and it won a shit load of MTV awards!!! “Oh well, thats life” was my response to everything that happened. I had already won, because I did what I said I would do and I did it for ALL the right reasons!!!
Last thoughts… None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for a few people. Most of all Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam & manager Kelly Curtis. BUT it was my producer Valerie Druckman, my D.P. Martin Coppen and my crew that made me look good. I also have to say thanks to Susan Agostinelli for her help and understanding while I learned what editing was all about. I learned a lot on this project. The biggest lesson I learned and still use to this day… Surround yourself with the best and you will be the best!!!