Actually, if you’re ever asked to hold either a pig or a violin, you may be better off playing a wild card and saying you’d prefer to hold the camera.
I wanted to take a fairly mainstream country act and give them a more classic spin, then bend it. What could be more iconic than American Gothic? And what could be more surprising than a couple of hot girl singers against a bourgeoisie background with a fiddle and a pig? Not very Nashville, especially with them looking so shell-shocked by the surreality of it all.
Finding a pig was a bitch! We talked to the people who did the swine for the movie “Babe,” but ended up at a stockyard that sold hogs for raising. We picked a real cute one, who pooped all over the shower in my studio and it reeked for days! The background, though, came from Schmidley Backdrops in LA and that arrived hassle free, whereas the piglet ended up going back to the stockyard and people who knew what to do with it.
You come to a place where you realize there is no such thing as a complete original concept. Homage taken to the wrong place can have some serious stopping power, especially if you evoke something beyond the original. When you’re thinking about what to bring to a shoot, going to a museum, the library, the newsstand, theatre, a club, drawing the accumulated experiences of the life you’ve lived, seen, passed by or dreamed of is all part of it.
And that’s a big part of it: taking people to places that don’t exist, showing them things they can’t see. That’s doesn’t mean they’re overly perfect fantasies… because honestly, those flaws not only make beauty more memorable, they inject a sense of the real.