Updated: Nov 19, 2021
EMMY Award winner Mark Adler Director and Band Leader Billy Bramblett discuss the revival of their musical short film.
PhilE: Hello. I am Phillip E. Walker-MFA, the Meetup / First Friday Films (FFF) Founder and background talent in tonight’s 33rd Amendment music video Showcase. Tonight we welcome to our Discussions the Music Video’s EMMY Awarded Director Mark Adler and the Billy Love Express Band Leader Billy Bramblett.
BB: Welcome one and all!! Thanks for attending tonight’s event and thanks to Phillip for hosting... xo BB
Ethel: Hello, glad to be here.
BB: Hi Ethel. I think it’s time to watch the video, eh?
PEW: Elated to see you artists here at this August 18th, 2021 FFF replacement Showcase, I’m now going over to http://FirstFridayFilms.com to start & view tonight’s Music Video. I’ll be back in this Meetup Discussion tab at 8:20pm PST to manage the interview.
BB: Time to go to the video link, eh, Phillip?
PEW: Yes Billy. 33rd is now playing at First Friday Films for another five minutes!
PEW: Hello July 2021 replacement FFF Participants. In hopes that you enjoyed the MV, we thank you for joining us tonight. At sometime during this Meetup Discussion live chat, we encourage you to log onto https://Flipsnack.com/FirstFridayFilms, click the blue box on the upper right, then Follow our current First Friday Films Online Magazine.
PEW: There for 2020 Vahan Bedelian’s WineGame, Mitesh Take’s Durga’s Lockdown, Souvik Chakraborty’s Dialog, Rafael de Andrade’s Banalities, Mike Williams & Travis Walker’s Pandemic Prospering Part 1 and Madhu N.R’s Death Offers Life Discussions are initially published. Although for 2021 only the André Campbell and Christie Black Lew’s Up First Discussion is published, Denté Gray’s Loving Byron February Discussion, Lorena Sopi’s Eternally Child March chat, JZ Murdock’s April Eagles & Crows, a fable, May’s Virus-2021 Discussion with Antwain & Danielle Walker and the August Inland Empire Films Promo talk with Brian Vermeire are being prepared for publication in our new First Friday Films Online Magazine on the upcoming new http://WalkerEntertainerAcademy.com website.
BB: Howdy, Billy Love here, watched the video twice, just as good as ever! Welcome and who's here?
PEW: Glad you enjoyed seeing yourself Billy (ha ha)!
Ethel: Ethel Walker is here.
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Mark: Mark Adler is here.
Pat: Excellent production quality, great performances, catchy tune. Don’t care for the message.
PEW: Welcome Pat. Glad you have joined us! Pat Trimmer runs multiple short film maker services here in the Inland Empire and will serve as the alternate Special Guest Judge for our live, in-person October 9-11, 2021 Indigenous Film Retreats!
BB: Pat, sorry you don’t like the message. I just couldn’t deal with the lies anymore.
PEW: Having played in 96 of them to date, my favorite art form in which to perform is the music video. Can each of you talk about the unique blending of music and film that is necessary to make a good music video?
BB: Phillip asked about the music and the video and how that came together. I wrote the song in 2009, recorded it in 2011 and then Mark and I decided to do the Video in 2012. Mark grasped my concept and came up with a visual masterpiece. Right during Occupy Wall Street, we got it out just before the 2012 election, and I’m sure we helped Obama pull it out!!
BB: Hey Mark, Phillip was asking about the Video, and I made a few remarks, perhaps you could add some...
Mark: Sure...this was our second music video collaboration (Billy and I), the first having been back in the mid-80s. Billy has always been a socially conscious guy, and both Videos were motivated by a concern for where we’re headed as a society. A lot changed technologically between those two Videos. The first was shot on 16mm film, this one is digital video. Pros and cons with each medium! But finally, it’s the content which matters!
PEW: Welcome Mark. So glad you could join us.
BB: Also, on the music front, producer Clyde Niesen deserves a lot of credit. It was he who thought it should have a reggae feel (without being too Rasta-Like), and insisted that I write a bridge, which really made a difference. Clyde also did the horn arrangements, and we got two of Tower of Power horns to play on the Record.
PEW: Love those T. O. P. horns!
BB: My comments on the first question were similar to Mark’s. Both songs were written and recorded prior to the concept of doing a video, altho, we had messed around with doing some filming back in the ‘70’s when Mark and I played in a Band called the Stingers.
Mark: Phillip, I suppose it makes it a lot easier to create a video from a song which has a clear point of view, a clear attitude...visualizing that point of view becomes a lot easier, then. This one went through a couple story incarnations in pre-production. At one point, the idea was to use a pop-up book to illustrate the points that Billy (as a teacher in a classroom) was making. We abandoned that as being too complex for our relatively modest budget. But some animation survived, like those lips!
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BB: On the blending part, well, it was Mark who created the visual artistry to accompany the music and messages. Mark is a great keyboard player and composer and we were in a couple of bands together in the ‘70’s, so did some arranging during those days of each others tunes. And, in our first Video back in 1986, Mark wanted additional percussion for the Video, so we went back in the studio and added congas, so we did have collaboration there on the music/film conjunction...
PEW: Mark ~ I understand that the animation was your work!
Mark: I did the animation myself, with crayons. Animation is a road-not-taken for me, so it was fun doing it after all these years (as well as tedious...doing it reminded me why I abandoned that road! ;) )
BB: Mark is a great animator and cartoonist! Our first Video had animation as well, I think Mark’s mate at the time did that, altho there was computer video as well from a dude Mark ran into who was making BMW commercials, and used their software to make the petroglyph dance and the letters morph in to petro’s...
Mark: Of course, we had a great VFX house composite the animation into the drawing paper and the signs.
PEW: I dream of Mark directing my next animated video. I have a wonderful award winning artist to do all of the work but would love to have Marks eye leading that artist!
Ethel: What was your intended audience, and what has been the general response to the Video?
Mark: Billy, do you want to take Ethel’s question?
BB: Questions and answers are crossing in the mail, this is fun! Ethel, I was speaking to all Americans, as I consider myself a patriot and love the constitutional governmental set up. I have always thought it was brilliant, but even by the early century, the lies were so rampant (and we're talking pre-Trump) that I had to speak up.
BB: So the concept was to build on the foundation of the constitution to put a humorous but necessary response to the lies. So, when “‘we the people’ determine that the government’s a liar, or a candidate for office got their pants on fire...All the people will rise, place their hands on their hearts, and sing, in unison, these words of humor, truthiness and art...”
BB: I got good response, but no one would play the record (I didn’t expect it), but this language is used constantly on HBO and other media, so here we are. We can’t stop Fox News and other outlets and persons from lying, but can call them on it. So, just invoke the 33rd! xo BB
PEW: I’m really glad you “spoke up” Billy, although of course, some folk will be uncomfortable with it. That’s art for you.
Mark: Phillip, as you say, some will be uncomfortable with it. I suppose I pushed that discomfort element by having school-age kids in the Video. I went around and around thinking about what age might be at least marginally acceptable...but then I realized that “acceptability” might not be the best criterion!! ;) Hopefully, we threaded a needle there.
Ethel: You did a good job making this inter-generational. Was this intentional and how did the “colorful” language speak to the diversity?
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BB: Well, I wanted to include everyone, regardless of age, race ethnicity, or even nationality. We all deserve the truth. It seems like we’ve been taught to lie to prevent the children from finding out how awful we’ve been . . . Have some Santa Claus and Easter Bunny and forget about all those people we massacred, dig? It becomes a way of life, these lies. Just look around now, people are very confused. The truth will out, so let it out!! xo BB
Mark: Ethel - so yes, it was intentional to go inter-generational.
BB: Absolutely intentional.
PEW: Personally, I think your bold choice was just right. And even more perfect today.
BB: Phillip, btw, Mark and I both loved your performance in the 33rd. I remember watching the footage and saying, "who is this guy?" Glad we got you there that day!!
PEW: Thank you Billy for the encouragement. I get a lot of “who is this guy” since coming to Hollywood.
Mark: Phillip, I’ll second Billy's comment. You brought so much to proceedings in that ending section...especially liked your close-up, if I may say so.
PEW: Thanks Mark. I really had a wonderful time working on your Set...I mean Street!
Ethel: Do you believe this is relevant in 2021 with the raging pandemic and do you believe today’s youth are ready to embrace the message?
BB: Well, this was way pre-pandemic so doesn’t really anticipate any of our current woes in that regard. But look at the lies that are being told and fed to people, worldwide. People are dying needlessly soon, (cuz we all die) and some because of lies. So, yes, the message is relevant. And, in case you didn’t figure this out, I am a comedian and most of my songs are funny. Sometimes not so funny, but this particular Song and Video are supposed to make people rock the funk, dance, think, laugh, cry and go, yeah!, STFU to those who would bear false witness...
BB: The main lady in the video was just 15 at the time, her father is friends with Mark. I am 77 at this point and am (nearly) ready to make another record (the tunes are written), and have concept for Mark’s animation for that one, with a special live part for Phillip!
Mark: The young woman at the desk (reading Thomas Paine) is the daughter of some very good, very old and dear friends of mine. So I knew she (and they) would be cool with this!
Mark: This refresh thing...ha! Our comments are crossing in the either! (That’s “ether”).
PEW: Very funny, Mark! Oh yes, please be aware that when this Discussion is published the “cross talking” will be fixed. But that’s the way it is in a lively chat like you two are herein creating!
PEW: Since art creation is often sparked by something that happens in real life, was there a specific lying leader who served as the initial seed for the 33rd’s creation?
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BB: Thanks for the great session. I hope we gave you some insight into our collaboration. Happy to answer any more questions or elaborate further... As to Phillip’s question about inspiration... Let me tell you a little tale. In the ‘70’s I was studying the Meters. They had a tune called “No Mo’ Okie Doke”, which I just loved and covered. Back then, we were protesting nuclear power plants and weapons, so I changed the title to “No Mo Nukie Duke” and wrote new lyrics (the Meters approved), one of the verses says: “Ron and Casper just grin and nod, then they pretend that they are GOD, they say, ‘You do our will and we will leave you alive’. I say, ‘You call this livin’? I call it JIVE !”...
PEW: Mark ~ I remember when being in make-up for Westworld I was shocked to be told by the Academy Award® winning artist that was working on me, that he did not receive much of a boost in his career from winning the OSCAR. What effect did winning an EMMY have on your career?
Mark: Phillip...re the Emmy, hard to say. Right after I won it, a studio musician I’d worked with a few times told me winning it would mean I’d never work again! So, this does happen. I did work again, but I can’t say it gave things much of a boost. (Looks pretty good as a mantelpiece, though.)
PEW: I would like to hear from the 33rd song writer, what lead you to the provocative chorus in this Work.
BB: Well, I’ve been saying that for about 65 years so, didn’t seem so rad, especially when you hear Bill Mahar say it fifty five times each hour on his show. And, the rappers sneak in a few bombs on their cuts, so I was just being up front. I thought, this has gotten so freakin’ bad, we need a constitutional amendment to deal with it. Now that’s both true and funny. Can you just imagine the debate? ha ha
PEW: I’d love to witness that Debate!
BB: Those cats in the Senate would be invoking the 33rd on each other left and right, bi-partisan invocations! Whee!
Ethel: I find “33rd Amendment” more relevant today than when it was originally recorded. It speaks to the insanity of the moment. What is the solution(s)? Not just “shut the MF up”.
BB: I don’t have a lot of solutions, but we can start by being honest with one another. Thanks for this Phillip, you da dude, dude!
BB: Ethel, here are a few suggestions for solutions: Be honest, be kind, be generous, make a joyful noise, do a cartwheel, hug somebody (but wear a mask, please) xo BB
PEW: Sure you’re right Billy!
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PEW: As laughter is a great tool to open up audiences to receive serious messages, please talk about how these two at first seemingly opposite aspects were made to work together so well in the 33rd Amendment.
Mark: Well, the tone of the Video comes right out of the tone of the song. It’s kind of strange that I spend most of my professional life cooking up music to complement visuals, and here I was cooking up visuals to compliment the music. Opposite sides of the same coin, though!
Mark: I think Billy and I share a sensibility where we seriously care about people, the world, our planet...and yet, we both have really strong senses of humor. So, I guess those seemingly opposite traits were just brought to bear in creating this.
PEW: I’m glad it happened that way.
PEW: While we are right now negotiating an agreement to make 33rd the first video ever to appear on the new Inland Empire Films streaming film channel, I dream of folk learning to respond to lying leaders by singing to themselves “stop your lying whoooo put a sock in your mouth!”. What are your hopes and dreams for this Music Video’s revival?
Mark: I hope the renewed exposure of the Video will help make it another voice calling for positive change, and against duplicity and greed.
PEW: As time is running out, we thank you Billy & Mark for allowing your art and your ideas to be explored by Meetup / First Friday Films on this August 18, 2021. Are there any last words or thoughts that you would like to share as closure to this Discussions/Interview live, written chat?
Mark: And thank you, Phillip!
PEW: You are welcome Mark. It was great to have you and Billy as First Friday Films subjects.
PhilE: For one to become the subject of a FFF Showcase, Register your under 16 minute film/video at http://FirstFridayFilms.online
That’s a wrap! XXXXX
Billy Bramblett has been honored as BEST ACTOR by New York City's Brooklyn International Cinefest among many additional Awards as the owner of 33rd. His "The 33rd Amendment" song is taken from the Just Invoke the 33rd CD available at https://BillyLoveExpress.com
Dr. Ethel Pitts Walker was a San Jose State University 2007 Outstanding Professor; Television, Radio, Film & Theatre Department former Chair & now Professor Emeritus who served as the Black Theatre Network founding President.
Pat Trimmer has been a leader of the Inland Empire Region of California indie film community since 2013. Currently involved in multiple film productions, she serves IE filmmakers through https://IndependentEmpire.net.
Mark Adler won the Primetime EMMY Award OUTSTANDING MUSIC DIRECTION Award for The Rat Pack (1998). To date, he has won 33rd Amendment BEST DIRECTOR Awards from Paris’ Mont. Blanc International Movie Fest and India’s Festival de Indie, in addition to a wealth of 33rd Awards in many categories. https://IMDb.com/name/nm0012206
Phillip E. Walker-MFA labors as a prolific Hollywood talent with 1168+ California performance gigs or Worldwide film festival on-screen appearances during his first 6 LA years. Having become a short film marketing master, PhilE hosts several programs such as FFF which support petite motion pictures. https://IMDb.me/PhillipEWalker
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