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When LeAnn Rimes, Rob Thomas, and Jeff Beck teamed up for a new single — “Gasoline and Matches,” co-written by Nashville‘s current music supervisor, Buddy Miller — it was a veritable clash of the vocal and guitar-god titans.
When it came time to produce a music video, meanwhile, the spirit of original Clash of the Titans film director Ray Harryhausen was invoked, as the collaboration was further brought to life via ingenious stop-motion animation work.
Harryhausen, who died earlier this year, did not work on the video, of course. That duty fell to animator Ian Padgham, who was hired to do his first full-length music video after dozens of the six-second clips he’d made using the popular Vine application became an online obsession of Rimes’ producer, Darrell Brown.
Back in the day, Harryhausen’s creations cost millions of studio dollars. The stop-motion work that Padgham did for “Gasoline and Matches” cost more in the neighborhood of tens of dollars, since he shot the entire five-minute video on a couple of iPhones, again using the Vine app to get the footage.
Padgham says that anyone could use the same virtually free technology to make their own stop-motion animation nowadays. But there may be a cost in psychological terms for anyone with a less meticulous mindset than his. What’s the secret to making a video composed of 8,000 meticulously sequenced still photographs? “Patience definitely is up there,” says Padgham.
“Darrell turned me onto Ian’s Vine account, and I’d never seen anything like it,” Rimes tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I was shocked that nobody had done a (music) video like that before, and I jumped at the chance to do it. My part in it took 20 or 30 minutes at the most. Ian flew to Dublin, where I was on tour, and put two iPhones up and filmed me doing two passes of the song, along with a few odd things like ‘Reach for a star’ or ‘Pretend you’re falling.’ “
Padgham then did the same kind of minishoot with her duet partner, Matchbox Twenty frontman Thomas, in New York before coming home to San Francisco to do the entirety of the stop-motion work in his living room. “You still get Rob and me” in performance mode, Rimes noted, “but I love how he entwined us with the (animated) characters.”
The romantic leads are Myrtle Matches — who is not as wooden as she first appears, despite her “safety” label — and paramour Gus Gasoline, in a fast-moving, surreal storyline that Brown describes as “gas pump guy meets match girl, gas pump loses match girl, gas pump rescues match girl, and they live explosively ever after” (while somehow managing not to go down in flames). Jeff Beck was not available to be filmed for his guitar solo, but there is some elaborate finger-synching done by one of the animated characters.
“Gasoline and Matches” comes off Rimes’ critically hailed Spitfire album, her last for the Curb label after a nearly two-decade run. “This is one of those crazy transitions for me, because I’m out of my deal next week,” says Rimes. “I had never in my life made a record like this … where basically the whole album was just a creative passion project. If the single clicks somehow with radio, it would be great, but if not, it was totally fun to have a great piece of work in this video we dreamt up and continue to work with really cool people.”
Adds Brown, “I think we recognized the passion in Ian and thought he was from the same tribe as us. So I reached out to him. And he didn’t answer in the beginning, because I think he thought we were Twitter trolls.” Padgham laughs and admits he did think the outreach on Rimes’ behalf was a friend’s prank, until Brown sent him a further video query from standing in front of a Curb Records sign.
It’s certainly a remarkable calling card for Padgham, a former Twitter employee who was already getting calls from people involved with the Grammys and Oscars to potentially create Vine-like animation promos before this video premiered on VH1 and CMT Saturday.
“It’s all very basic and rudimentary,” swears Padgham. “There are certainly plenty of applications like Vine that are free that people could use to just do the same thing, shot by shot. It takes a lot of work and thought, but anyone can get a phone or camera and start making their own similar things. I hope it inspires people to do their own stuff. You don’t need a lot of special tools, and it’s getting back to that very simple, very handmade way of producing art.”
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