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The payback

A couple of bottles of whiskey and generous friends in the right places is all it took for musician Mel Parsons to make her first music video.
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Photographs by Tony Nyberg

A couple of bottles of whiskey and generous friends in the right places is all it took for musician Mel Parsons to make her first music video

A couple of bottles of whiskey and generous friends in the right places is all it took for musician Mel Parsons to make her first music video. The “pop-folk-country” singer released her debut album Over My Shoulder in March.

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An independent artist (read: struggling for money), Parsons made numerous applications for NZ On Air funding, but competition for the $5,000 grants is stiff. She was turned down every time.

But of course, there are other ways of getting things done in Godzone. Enter Murray Keane. The film and television director (Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street) offered to direct the music video for her first single ‘Darlin’ Darlin’ for free. Call it payback: Keane says Parsons had been an “awesome” nanny to his son years earlier and he wanted to help. Plus, he says, he’d never shot a music video before but had always wanted to. Favours were pulled, cameras, lighting gear and costumes were borrowed. Keane’s house was the set and the cast comprised friends and family. Experienced director of photography Dave Cameron worked for free and actor/musician Johnny Barker edited the footage in his bedroom.

Keane estimates that had crew been paid and equipment rented, the shoot would have cost around $15,000.

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Keane’s concept was inspired by the song’s lyrics: “When are you coming home?” It follows the life of a married couple through the 50s, 60s and 70s; each time the husband returns home after time away pursuing his music career he is greeted by an ever-multiplying horde of kids.

“We pretty much had to make it up as we went along,” says Keane. “I didn’t know who was going to turn up on the day. The thing with Mel is that she is such a terrific person that when you do a project like this you get a lot of people coming to help out, and they did.”

Parsons is about to get started on her second music video. “This is going to crack you up,” she laughs. “But I’ve got another friend …”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbWEEGPi-eg