Director Miranda July knew there was some danger in using the Internet
to invite Sleater-Kinney fans to star as extras in the punk trio's
While a large cast of extras was vital for the filming of the soon-to-
premiere clip for "Get Up" from the forthcoming album The Hot Rock,
July was concerned that some overly dedicated fans might go to
extreme lengths to participate.
"I tried to discourage them: 'Please do not fly here, because
it's going to be pretty cold and miserable,' " July said. "One 13-year-
old did show up in a cab at 7 in the morning in the middle of nowhere.
But it was great, because you need people who are really dedicated.
They were doing it because they love the band."
July filmed the almost three dozen fans who came in a tall-grass field
outside Olympia, Wash., moving in a linked-arm line as if conducting a
search for bodies. The entire shoot -- July's first venture into music
video -- lasted nine hours on a freezing, wet day last December.
"The girls that they find in the field are the band members," July
said, referring to Carrie Brownstein (guitar/vocals), Corin Tucker
(guitar/vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums). "And while this is happening,
we see Carrie and Corin and Janet in life. First we see Janet at the
bus stop, just listening to her Walkman, bobbing her head. And then
she's next found in the field."
Whenever the women are bored or frustrated in life, they turn up --
alive -- in the field, the 24-year-old filmmaker and performance
artist explained. As each member of the band (who will participating
in a Rock 'N' Roll Insider Chat with SonicNet on Monday, 6:30 p.m.
(PST) at www.chat.yahoo.com) is discovered, she's picked up and joins
the line. "One could presume that all the girls in the line were found
at one point, and they're lifted up," July said.
While people might perceive messages of empowerment and community in
the black-and-white video -- similar to messages offered by the riot-
grrrl movement that gave birth to bands such as Sleater-Kinney earlier
this decade -- they were not necessarily July's intention.
"I purposely made [the video] pretty hard to read," she said. "There's
one scene where one girl is pulling another girl's hair slowly down so
the girl falls to the ground. It's not like everyone's totally happy
through it. I don't think the song is all that happy. But it's
Sleater-Kinney's 13-song The Hot Rock hits store shelves on
Feb. 23. The disc -- one of the most anticipated releases of the year
-- is the fourth album by the fiercely independent band; it follows
1997's acclaimed Dig Me Out.
In addition to founding the Big Miss Moviola video chain letter
project, July has released an album of performance art, The Binet-
Simon Test. She also recently completed an acting role in the
upcoming Dennis Hopper movie "Jesus' Son."
From start to finish, the clip for "Get Up"
(RealAudio excerpt) alludes to the band's friends, July said. The
field in which the video was filmed, for instance, stands near the
house of Unwound bassist Vern Rumsey, a labelmate of Sleater-Kinney's
at Kill Rock Stars Records.
The band enlisted July because they already knew and trusted her.
"I remember the night before we went to shoot, I was like, 'Do you
guys want to know what it's going to be about?' " July said. "And they
were like, 'Yeah!' so I acted out the whole thing for them."