Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Garrett Gibbons
Producer: Scott Zuniga
Writer/Vocals/Guitar: Scott Zuniga
Vocals/Chimes: Emilie Zuniga
Bass: Christopher Cox
Drums/Percussion: Wayne Salzmann II
Piano: Maurice Chammah
Bagpipes: Doug Slauson
Cello: Tony Rogers
Violin: Emily McLeod
Tympani: Evan Kaspar
Engineers: Brad Bell, Grant Johnson
Studios: Public Hi-fi, Austin, TX / Good Danny's, Austin, TX
Notes and production stills:
This is Part 2 of a blog series on the recording of Isla’s Promise and the making of the music video. Click here for Part 1. This week, to celebrate the video’s release, we’ll discuss the making-of.
Garrett Gibbons is a filmmaker and music video director whom I have known for a number of years. He and I came up of with the concept for the video over a series of video calls. We decided that a chase sequence would keep things interesting throughout the duration of the video.
The song has a sort of celtic, mystical feel, so we decided to represent the muse as a water siren/selkie. In the video, Emilie, as in life, would be the muse that I was chasing.
We got some great hair and makeup pointers from our good friend Eliza Ogzewalla, then went to Lucy In Disguise, a massive costume shop in Austin, and picked some things out that we thought would work. The dress she wears was originally long, but it looked too much like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, so we pinned it up at the front to make it look more fairy-like.
This was guerilla filmmaking at its best so I had to wear many hats, including makeup duty. My first attempt at doing Emilie’s makeup made her look more like a burnt mime than a siren, so we decided to go with a minimal, pale look instead.
I wanted to shoot the video in Scotland but didn’t have the budget to get there so we did the next best thing and headed Northwest to Seattle and Bainbridge Island. My family used to go there when I was a kid because my mom said it reminded her of Scotland, her home. I still tried to incorporate Scottish themes whenever we could. You might be able to spot a few.
We shot the video over three days. Garrett is from the Seattle area, so he was working on his home turf. He found an underwater camera operator named Jon LaFollette, who was a total pro and did an amazing job. Garrett also rented a local swimming pool after hours to film all the underwater shots. We were able to turn off the pool lights and use our own to make everything feel more dramatic.
Garrett was the perfect director for this video, always in the water directing as we filmed. You can’t tell but Emilie’s costume weighed a thousand pounds when wet. She’s a solid swimmer so her underwater shots look great. I’m only a decent swimmer but that worked well for the video and I’m proud of how those scenes turned out.
We filmed all of the outdoor water scenes on the same day, the day I consider the coldest of my life. I didn’t have a change of costume so the scene where I jump into the lake had to be captured in one take because there wasn’t enough time to dry my clothes and do it again. We filmed at Lake Crescent at a great spot called The Devil’s Punchbowl, which is a narrow, deep inlet of the lake that required about a mile of hiking to access. I mentally rehearsed jumping in several times before taking the plunge. I didn’t want to trip on a rock and ruin the shot or break my skull open. In the end it’s not the most graceful dive but it works well for the video and plus come on, I jumped into nearly-freezing water, how cool is that!
Once I was in the water I knew I only had a few moments before I froze. It didn’t truly get cold until I was back on land. Once I got out of the water, my skin started to react and it felt like there were thousands of little pins pricking me everywhere. We brought plenty of towels and blankets so I stripped to my skivvies and dried off before things got too serious. Emilie took plenty of pics of me in my lowly state that I hope never surface. Once I was dry I actually felt really refreshed.
It was about a three-hour drive to the next location at the beach in La Push (where they filmed scenes from Twilight) so we hung my clothes from the windows of the car to dry along the way. By the time we got there the clothes were drier, but still very damp. The temperature was low and the wind was blowing at least 45-55mph, so putting wet clothes back on was torture. But I fought through it.
Garrett was willing to get his feet wet in the ocean so I took advantage of it and went all the way in. The waves were huge so I knew it would look dramatic when I stumbled out of them.
To synch the singing up with the song I had to sing along with the actual recording. The wind was too loud and fierce to play the song on a speaker from the beach and there was no way we could cheat out a headphone in my ear from the shot, so Emilie stood far away on the beach and literally screamed the words as loud as possible as she listened to them on my phone. I sang along to her screams.
We basically filmed until our bodies couldn’t handle the cold anymore. When we were done we changed quickly and pumped the car heater up to its max to thaw out. We were exhausted, cold and hungry. Luckily there was a smoke shack next to the beach so we bought a few pieces of smoked salmon and devoured them like wolves.
The final day we filmed around the cool parts of Seattle. The bike scenes and Pike Place Market scenes were a blast because people kept stopping and asking what we were filming. Their excitement got me excited. I learned that I should carry download cards around when I do that kind of thing for promotion purposes. One of my favorite shots of the video is when I run off the bike and then jump into the water. That above-the-water/under-the-water shot combo cuts together perfectly.
In the end, Isla’s Promise was probably the biggest artistic collaboration I have ever worked on. It’s crazy how the song started so small and then grew into such a huge production. When I think of how many people worked together to make it come alive, I realize how truly blessed I am to have such great friends. What an amazing experience. Thanks to all who helped!
Special thanks to:
Lucy In Disguise
Dutch Bike Co. Seattle
Tamsin & Conrad Mahnken
Bainbridge Aquatic Center
Tatro family guitar
Shea & Jess Stott
City of Seattle
All of my Kickstarter donors who helped make this video possible