It’s 2am. and my alarm is going off. It’s time to get up, pack up some gear and drive 3+ hours up to The Devils Punchbowl to document the making of the new ACCEPT music video. I’ll get to my story in a minute, but first, here is the story of the video shoot told by the man responsible, producer Dave Blass. I met Dave back in 2012 at the NAMM show in Anaheim where along with Scott Diussa we filmed a video clip of ACCEPT guitarist Wolf Hoffmann for Framus Guitars. Here is the story of how the video came about from Dave:
STAMPEDE …. HOW VERY COLD CAN GET PRETTY HOT….
It’s 4 in the morning and I am in a van with one of the hottest metal bands in the world ACCEPT. But right now, they are one of the coldest metal bands in the world because it’s -‐7 degrees out and we had to rush back into the van to warm up. It was so cold that they couldn’t hold their guitar pics, and the rocky peaks they were climbing over still had a slick layer of ice on them. When we scouted the location 3 weeks ago it was a nice toasty 33 and we were worried that they were going to roast in the sun. We would all love that heat right about now.
This is the third video that my team and I have done with Accept going back to “Teutonic Terror”. Wolf Hoffmann and I had met years before their reunion and I had told him that if they ever wanted to do a video that we should get together. With “Teutonic Terror” we wanted to go with a Classic Metal Video. No story, no visual effects, just the band with brand new lead singer Mark Tornillo, some fire and Wolf doing his guitar solo up on a tank. I wanted to keep it about the music, but with some iconic imagery which is why we closed the video on the twin burning flying V guitars that was a call back to the Restless and Wild Album. Next we tried to shake it up with “Pandemic”, which we shot the morning after the 14 hr “Teutonic Terror” shoot. The band was about to embark on a massive worldwide tour, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get them for another shoot. We had no concept for the video when we shot it, we just did a clean capture of the individual band members on Green Screen, and knew we could do a wide variety of things. I didn’t want to do the standard deal of putting the band on a virtual set that looks like a cheap video game, so we later came up with the concept to make the video look like you were reading a graphic novel, which wasn’t something that had been done before.
The overall theme of the Accept videos have always been about the band and the music. No matter how many shows the band does, there are fans all around the world who never get a chance to see them perform, and these videos fill that void. Even so, you still have to mix it up a bit. Even tanks and fire get boring after a bit. So here we are, freezing our asses off in the high desert of California at the Devil’s Punchbowl, a rock formation that looks like it’s from another world. It is actually. It’s right around the corner from where Captain Kirk fought the guy in the green lizard suit in the old Star Trek TV series.
The first new video from the forthcoming Album Blind Rage is for the track “Stampede”. It’s a hard pounding thrash of a song with as a nasty riff that has a heart going back to “Fast as a Shark”. Director Greg Aronowitz wanted the video to have a different feel and something that we hadn’t seen before. So many of the videos done today are all Visual Effects, so we wanted to take advantage of this amazing scenery and showcase the band an a new and unique way. Director of Photography Lan Bui wanted to maximize the great light by shooting both at sunrise and at sunset, but the sunrise was proving to be a bit challenging due to the cold. A slug of lukewarm coffee and we all jumped out of the van and climbed back on the frosty peaks as the sun crested over the horizon. We have Peter Baltes hammering away at his Bass on a ridge so steep we are all cringing as he thrashes away. “We have insurance… right?” To capture these moments, and to get the scope of the location Greg brought in the Phantom 2 Vision Quad Copter with a Gimbal-‐Stabilized 108Op Camera and Fat Shark VR goggle control system. This gives us the ability to not only fly around the band at high speeds, but to hover a couple of feet away from them, then take off like a bat out of hell. It’s like having a crane, a helicopter and a steady cam rig all in one. That rig only worked for a some shots though, for the more precise shots, and close ‐ups and pans we used the new G ‐Rig Valos gimbal system developed by Clemens Fischer in Austria to give us a steady fluid system of movements that allowed us to track along the rocky terrain while running at full speed. Lighter and more versatile than a typical Steadi-‐Cam this rig is so state of the art that we were the first video to get to use it. We had all the gadgets, one of the biggest Metal bands in the world… and now we finally were getting some heat as the warm California Sun heated up our location, creating the golden glow that we had traveled 2 hrs from Los Angeles to find. Watching the new sun glint off of Wolf Hoffman’s custom silver Framus as he launches into his solo 200 feet in the air above a nasty crevasse made it all worth it.
After 2 days of thrashing and bashing we had another cool video in the can.. now we just had to make the magic happen in the editing room, and bring it all together. For millions of fans, this video will be their first chance to hear the new album. As the sun set on the last day of shooting we said our goodbyes. It’s been a great ride since that first day at the tank yard and their first album in over one and a half decades. Now here we were, just 4 years later, three albums later and another world tour about to start. It’s been a hell of a ride… really more like a stampede actually.
When Dave said it was cold, he wasn’t kidding. As Southern California people, we are not used to really cold weather and anything below 60 is considered extreme. When we arrived at the amazing location, the temperature seemed to be arctic, but then again dressed in jeans and a hoodie might have had something to do with it. No matter how cold it was for me, the band had it worse, they had to keep a consistent wardrobe for the shoot which consists of t-shirts. As Dave mentioned, it was so cold at the start of the shoot that their fingers were having a tough time holding guitar picks, and I couldn’t actually feel the shutter release button. The only way I knew I was actually taking photographs was the by the sound of the shutter.
It was amazing to see this production come together. Director Greg Aronowitz and Director of Photography Lan Bui seemed to know exactly what they needed from the band for every shot and Wolf, Peter, Mark, Herman and Frank performed like the true professionals they are. The temperatures finally started to climb and by mid morning it had become just chilly, not freezing.
Some of the coolest scenes were photographed using the Phantom 2 with the VR goggles.
Then it started to get cold again. The sun started to drop in the sky and the days production wound down. My day out at the Devils Punchbowl with ACCEPT was coming to an end and it was time to head back to San Diego.
A huge thanks goes out to all the guys from Accept, the amazing video crew, Gabby, and Scott.
Watch the full video HERE
ACCEPT is Wolf Hoffmann, Peter Baltes, Herman Frank, Stefan Schwarzmann and Mark Tornillo. You can find out more about them HERE.
The Video Crew was:
- Director: Greg Aronowitz
- Producer: Jeff Winkler
- Producer: Dave Blass
- Set PA: Dave Foley
- Set PA: Jesse Navarro
- Director of Photography: Lan Bui
- 1st AC: Eric Parkin
- Gimbal: Clemens Fisher
- BTS: Misa Garcia
- BTS: Scott Diussa
- Grip: Anna Akana
- Grip: Will Akana
- Art Director: Red 5
- Set Designer: Keri Palmeto
All Photos taken and © by Alan Hess except for the last one which was taken by Dave Blass.
All images were shot using a Nikon D4 and Nikon D700 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lenses and stored on Hoodman Steel CompactFlash cards and Sony XQD cards.