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Thread: Protect Ya Neck video shoot story

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    Default Protect Ya Neck video shoot story

    This is an older story from 2012, but didn't see it posted here or translated anywhere, and thought it was a cool story. Something might get lost in translation. Anyway:

    Osmo Walden ended up filming Wu-Tang Clan debut single "Protect Ya Neck" in 1992.

    Osmo Walden from Helsinki studied film industry in the 1990s at the Tisch School of the Arts in the New York University. After you graduated, you automatically got a one year working permit. So after his studies, Osmo stayed in the city to do cinematographer and camera assistant work - whatever happened to come by.

    "I got a call that there was a need for a camera assistant. It was some music video shoot. Filming was to be done somewhere in Lower East Side", rewarded advertisement film director Walden reminisces. Later it turned out to be an abandoned amphitheater in East River Park. And the group was, still to release their first single, still unknown Wu-Tang Clan. "It turned out that the guys had filmed to VHS previous days and wanted film now. For the shoot a 16mm Arriflex camera had been rented. Whole set was done with a minimal budget."

    East River Park is the gate from Manhattan to Brooklyn, or other way around. Williamsburg bridge curves from middle of the park over the river. The bridge is the way to GZA's hoods Bedford-Stuyvesant, and to Masta Killa's and Ol' Dirty Bastard's homes in Brownsville. In the other end the bridge curves Brooklyn-Queens Expressway - the route to Staten Island, to the hoods of other Wu-Dynasty members in the Park Hill Projects. During the filming night there was a restless crowd at the deteriorated amphitheater. Amphitheater itself had sunk to a abasement during the 1980s crack years and was popular among junkies, dealers and underworld.

    "All the band members were present and plenty of other posse as well. At least twenty people. Filming crew had a director, cinematographer and me. Me and the cinematographer were the only white people in there. There was really aggressive atmosphere. Frequently someone would wave a gun. There was a lot impatience in the air. Waiting. It was heating when at times you had to load the film et cetera." When we started filming, from somewhere a brick flew towards the camera. The cinematographer said: "I have to go make a call". At one point it turned out that he wasn't coming back. Gang was starting to go into overdrive. Then they were like, "Can you film?". "Well, fortunately I can film. I've even been in a school." "Well, fuck, film then!". When you got twenty armed guys near you, you really can't say no. On the other hand I wanted to help as I knew they had put their own money to the video. And they had some kind of a storyboard with them."

    The shooting continued. The night got darker and at one point Osmo realized that he was alone. The director had vanished to the darkness of the park as well. "I was filming and setting up the lights. Pulling cables. There were drug syringes in the ground. Dudes got more and more fucked up and the whole situation was heated."

    "Suddenly in the middle of everything the lights turned off, because the generator they got there broke down. In the pitch-dark I heard a shout "Fuck, there is a saboteur in here!" I was just thinking that I wonder who the saboteur might be, being the only white guy there. The situation got out of hand! I was just thinking that I had one film reel, film to shoot for one song. It was difficult to see. Finder was in a vapor and depth of field was impossible to distinguish. I was trying to move and crop the camera based on the guys moving and trying to find targets in the darkness. I was thinking that this is the last, this is the last, and that the energy was high!"

    Miraculously that last take ended up being in the video pretty much in its entirety. Film ended and the song was over. Crew was breathing heavily behind the cinematographer who got handed with the project responsibilities. There was electricity and adrenaline in the air.

    "I said 'That's it'. That was it. Then they relaxed."

    Director was scurrying on the sidewalk. Later he told to Walden that he was on his way to the phone booth to call help because he was sure that he was going to get shot. "In the end Wu-Tang guys said that they owe me a favor for this. That if at some point I need help, I can contact them. Well, haven't contacted them."

    Last edited by Pestilence; 10-22-2017 at 12:19 AM.

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