Bits 'n' Pieces: They Might Be Puppets

VSAA students direct rock video

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Those sock puppets sure can harmonize, sling impressive guitar solos — and make sickly excuses.

Danny Weinkauf’s catchy power-pop tune tells it like it is as far as a kid wishfully feeling symptoms that could add up to a day off from school: Sore throat. Hot head. Ice cream required. Also television and immediate Facebook status updates so friends don’t worry.

“Hey Mom, I think I should rest. I don’t really feel OK. Hey Dad, can I stay in bed? Maybe I’ll skip school today.”

Of course there’s this classic twist: There’s actually “No School Today” — that’s the name of the song — and our hero feels instantly better upon learning this. The song lets off the hook the parents, who only tell the singer he’s “lucky” and fail to insist he stick to his original plan of languishing miserably in bed.

All of which is dramatized in a lively, colorful, sock-puppet-starring music video created by Ryan Hanrahan, a 17-year-old junior at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics who’s focusing on video and filmmaking (what VSAA calls “moving image arts”). Hanrahan was 16 last fall when Weinkauf posted a Facebook query: any young filmmakers out there want to make a music video on a budget?

Hanrahan was already a fan of Weinkauf and the band he plays bass in, They Might Be Giants, which is known for its clever, slightly nerdy music for children and their parents. He sent some of his previous work and got the job. He decided to make sock puppets his stars because They Might Be Giants had already catapulted sock puppets to stardom in a previous video. He enlisted family and friends to make many, many sock puppets and checked out video equipment from VSAA.

The process was painstaking. Lighting and shooting each lip-synching puppet separately in front of a green screen was the least of it; painstaking post-production computer work was required to add effects, such as the poor sick puppet’s bedroom backdrop and the bold words that float around the screen.

Hanrahan sent Weinkauf a first edit in November and Weinkauf asked for a second version. That’s when Hanrahan asked for just a little money for his labors.

“I don’t think he realized I was a high school student and going to school full time. I think he was looking for college students,” Hanrahan said.

A few hundred bucks arrived, and the second video got finished. Hanrahan said he’s waiting for a second stipend for what he estimates was a total of 200 hours of work. And he’s looking forward to studying film production in college — someplace in California, he said.

“No School Today” is the title song from Weinkauf’s new album, which will be released April 29. But Hanrahan’s video is below. Take a look. No excuses.


Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.

No School Today - Danny Weinkauf

The title track from the album No School Today by long time They Might Be Giants bassist and Grammy winning songwriter Danny Weinkauf. Available for pre order at MerchDirect.com, Amazon.com, and at iTunes and other outlets upon release April 29th 2014. Video created by HS student artist Ryan Hanrahan.