The question: How do you shoot a music video for an artist who has been dead for more than 11 years?
The answer: Take thousands of still photographs of the late artist’s friends, colleagues, fans, and random strangers in assorted poses throughout New York City and piece them together to create a stop-motion tribute film in the spirit of the artist and the song.
At least that was the approach taken by award-winning director Greg Jardin when he directed the recently released video for the late rocker Joey Ramone’s “New York City.”
“We had to do something without the artist’s involvement, but that would pay homage to the artist,” said Jardin, who first gained acclaim for his stop-motion music video for Kina Grannis’ “In Your Arms.”
Though Ramone died in 2001, his posthumous album, “…ya know?” was released last spring.
What better way to pay homage to the legendary Ramones frontman than to showcase the city he called home? “The song was a love letter to New York,” said Jardin, who shot the video throughout New York City, including Times Square, Joey Ramone Place in the East Village, and Forest Hills, Queens, where Joey Ramone and his bandmates grew up.
About half of the 115 people who appear in the video were ” yanked off the street,” said Jardin. “We set up on the sidewalk and looked for interesting-looking people.”
Rounding out the “cast” were friends of Jardin’s, friends of Ramone’s, and an eclectic array of celebrities and luminaries, including longtime Ramones producer Ed Stasium, Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone, superstar chef Anthony Bourdain, 30 Rock stars Kristen Schaal and Scott Adsit, comedian/musician Reggie Watts, musician Andrew WK, as well as members of the ’70s punk band, The Dictators, and the Gotham Girls Roller Derby.
At one point, Joey Ramone himself appears in the video–in the form of never-before-seen archival footage shot by Joey’s friend, the director George Seminara.
The idea was to “showcase not only of the city itself, but of the diversity in the city’s population,” said Jardin, who said that, for the most part, people they approached on the street were receptive to participating.
“The people who did it were all into it,” he said. “They were excited to do it, but I’m not sure if anyone fully understood what the end result would look like when they were doing it. I was essentially just having them strike a pose and have them hold a position.”
Shooting during 100-degree mid-summer New York City temperatures wasn’t easy–especially for the people being photographed in Joey Ramone-style leather jackets. There were seven jackets total to accommodate various body types.
Jardin paid attention to some details that only hardcore Ramones fans will catch. For instance, one shot is at the intersection of 53rd and 3rd in Manhattan, which was the title of The Ramones second single about bassist Dee Dee Ramone’s experiences hustling on that corner. “Of course, the spot has cleaned up a lot since then,” said Jardin.