For many college seniors, extracurricular activities are limited to mailing out résumés, organizing rallies in the campus quad and hitting up the occasional nickel-beer night.
But for 20-year-old Emerson College senior Pearl Wible, her after-school schedule included directing a music video for bombastic Texas rockers ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, which, as fate would have it, just happened to fall during exam week.
"It was pretty much the week from intense hell," Wible laughed. "I'm also an RA on campus, so in addition to exams and shooting the video, I also had to help a whole bunch of kids move out of their building too. But the whole thing was a total résumé-builder. It was a super-good experience."
Wible got the opportunity to direct the clip for "Caterwaul," the second single off Trail of Dead's Worlds Apart album (see "With Choirs, Copyright Violations And Attitude, Trail Of Dead Shoot For The Top"), thanks to a collaboration between MTV's mtvU channel, Emerson's on-campus TV station and Interscope Records to highlight student-created content. After hearing about an open call for campus filmmakers, Wible wrote a treatment (well, five of them, actually), won, and was handed $10,000 to make the video, which she filmed at landmark Cambridge, Massachusetts, rock club the Middle East.
"When you're a student working with no money, $10,000 seems like a whole lot, but then you get to the location, and you're like, 'Oh, man, where'd all the money
go?' " Wible said. "But in the end, everything worked out fine, and I'm pretty happy with the video, which is something not a lot of directors can say."
In the "Caterwaul" video, Trail of Dead are rocking a packed house at the Middle East, while a host of the band's fans — including one "hot blond girl" (as the treatment puts it) — is denied entry by a beefy bouncer. Determined to see the show, the girl sneaks in through a side door and finds herself onstage with the band. Suddenly — and pretty accurately, given Trail's chaotic live-performance history — the fans rush past the bouncers and bound onstage with the band, bashing drums and leaping with joy as the show comes to an end.
"I've seen Trail of Dead live and I wanted to make a performance video that captured the energy of their concerts," Wible said. "We shot it from the crowd, so you see the sweat, you see the elbows and the crowd-surfers and the spit."
But the whole thing didn't go off without a few hitches. First of all, the video's casting director had arranged for 180 extras to pack the club, but only 40 showed up, so Wible had to make some on-set adjustments. Then she had to submit three cuts of the video to Interscope before the label would give the final thumbs-up. But probably the biggest problem was controlling the band itself.
"As soon as they showed up on set, it was very, very difficult to keep them in one place at one time. Their manager said they had collective ADD, and I would agree with him," Wible said. "It was like they were playing tag to see which one would be the difficult one, and they were putting paper bags on their heads, but in the end, they ended up being OK."
Wible — who had previously directed a video for Boston ska-punk goofballs Big D & the Kids Table and just shot a rock opera in San Francisco — hopes the "Caterwaul" video (currently airing on mtvU) will land her more work when she graduates from Emerson later this year.
"I want to direct more music videos, especially for bands that want to do really crazy things," Wible said. "I love Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s, and I want to incorporate a whole bunch of water dancing and things like that into a video. So far it's been hard to find bands who want to do that, but we'll see what happens."