“I Was a Killer Before You Were Born” : Some Notes Toward a History of Shut Up, Little Man!
“I Was a Killer Before You Were Born” — The Killer Films saga (2002-2006)
In 2002 I received a short simple email from another fan named Mark, inquiring about the film rights for Shut Up Little Man. In his email Mark noted that he was a music video director looking to branch out into feature film direction. He relayed to me that in his professional career he had shot videos for major label bands: “I have worked with The Eels and Nine Inch Nails.” He went on to say that he was going to forward to me a VHS tape that illustrated his directorial work. Via email I thanked him for his interest, didn't think much about it, and in about 10 days I received a package from him that included a videotape that featured his wares. I popped it into the VCR, kicked back, watched the 15 videos contained therein, and about an hour later, I picked my jaw off the ground. 'Mark' was Mark Romanek, indubitably one of the greatest and most highly regarded music video directors in the history of the industry. Mark was being humble in his email. Sure, he worked “with The Eels and Nine Inch Nails,” but the sampler featured videos by the most towering figures of the music and entertainment industry, including Madonna, Johnny Cash, and Michael Jackson. More importantly, the sampler featured famously innovative and provocative artful videos by Fiona Apple (“Criminal”) and Nine Inch Nails (“Closer”). Mark had also created the near-legendary video of Johnny Cash's “Hurt.” Mark was an artist. Mark had won over twenty MTV awards, three Grammy awards, three Billboard Music awards, and was the first director to win an MTV Vanguard Award for his overall contribution to the medium. His videos had something consistent - a hermetic self-contained world, a realm of inventive weirdness and disturbing beauty. They actually had vision and emotional depth. As you know, it would be difficult to use words like inventive, beauty, vision, and emotional depth about most music videos. Mostly, you think of bands lip-synching vocals on a fake stage or scantily-cload women pouring champagne on each other by a swimming pool. But, with Mark's work it was different. His work contained a melding of surrealism and edgy menace that I thought would be ideal and perfect for someone attempting to translate Shut Up Little Man to film.this article continued »