Beautiful. Desolate. Fragile. There's something magical about even the name itself. I heard recently that often times the most difficult path is also the right one. Well, this project was definitely one of the most painstaking and difficult creative challenge we have ever undertaken as a band. It has also been one of the most inspiring – a rare opportunity to reach into our imagination and push the limits of whats possibile. It will always be an important part of our story and a defining element of our lives.
It’s still hard to believe that we were actually there, two hundred miles north of the Arctic circle, carrying our guitars, drums, cameras and giddy selves across that endless and alien frozen tundra, watching as the ice cracked its thunderous warnings under our feet and shot what is our love letter to this magnificent and, sadly, soon to be lost treasure.
It almost didn't happen. In fact, we were pretty much convinced it wouldn't happen. We even considered abandoning the idea after being told many times by very smart, educated, well-grounded and rational people that we were indeed out of our collective fucking minds for even thinking we could shoot a 'music video' in the Arctic circle.
"Wouldn't a green screen do the trick? Who will know the difference???"
Yes, this was actually suggested as an option. And no it wasn't the way we wanted to go. For us, it was so much more about the journey, about actually being there, and we weren't interested in manipulating or manufacturing that experience. By the way, to clarify, there is absolutely no greenscreen in the project at all. Everything we shot was 100% real and filmed in the Arctic. Real and cold. But in some ways their concerns were valid: constant technical issues, the schematics of travel and production, cost, the 192 different kinds of insurance we needed and couldn't get, the very real dangers involved, and finding a group of people insane enough to join us. All of these became hurdles that we somehow managed to jump, either out of bravery or ignorance but fortunately, somehow, we finally landed in Greenland.
After the planes, trains, boats, battles and yes, even an airline strike thrown in for good measure, we set foot in Illulisat - a gorgeous town known for its icebergs – pulled our gear off the plane and immediately launched into a mad scramble and began shooting in a spirited race with the weather and a precarious dance with our delicate surroundings.
We were too awe struck and having too much fun to notice, but this was probably the most dangerous and exhilarating thing we've ever done in our entire lives. From tempting fate atop the gargantuan icebergs that were literally breaking apart under our feet (the most amazing sound I've ever heard), to standing on the edge of the very real and the very, very slippery 200-foot ice cliffs, to the threat of spending the night on that gorgeous but quite cold and tricky glacier for the night, it was a full on adventure in the best sense of the word. And honestly, we can't wait to go back.
As beautiful as it was and excited as we were, I have to admit it was virtually impossible to shoot anything at all in that extremely challenging environment. We had the phenomenally good luck of a few hours a day of decent sunlight but mostly it was a fierce fight with the fog, clouds, wind, rain, equipment, schedule, dogs, seals and those pesky and unpredictable animals called human beings. It all added up to us being incredibly lucky to have even gotten a few decent shots a day… Oh yeah, and the fact that literally days before we left we didn't even think we would make it there at all definitely helped add to the chaos. Fun! Who needs preproduction anyway...
This project has been an enormous undertaking involving new technology and methods of working that extended the "normal" procedures. Overall preproduction, shooting, and post have taken over 6 months. Yes, SIX MONTHS! We admit this is slightly insane considering its a 5 minute piece....but c'est la vie, time flies when you’re having fun!
This is definitely a departure from the two previous videos and we are excited about that. It’s not a piece based on a fantasy oriented narrative or surrealistic adventure like The Kill or From Yesterday. As proud as we are of both of those projects we felt it was time to walk down a different path. A Beautiful Lie is a simple story that is, for the most part, a traditional, performance-based video that happens to be shot in an exotic and ridiculously beautiful but endangered wilderness. For us, this was definitely a case of the journey being the destination and the process of plotting, planning, dreaming and executing will always be as important – if not more - than the end result.
For the record, let me state loud and clearly: We do not profess to be experts on the environmental conditions of the planet. We do not pretend to live our lives in perfect harmony with the Earth making sure that every time we exhale we purchase green tags to offset the carbon emissions that come from all the hot air we admittedly toss around. And yes, we are aware of the implications and banal social dangers that could come with making an environmental statement in a music video. But we were compelled and inspired to move forward regardless and it ultimately came down to us asking ourselves...
"Is it better to do this than to not?"
The answer was a resounding "yes" and we jumped in. Because this is such a hot topic and a cause celebre we thought long and hard about what, why, and whether we were actually going to go through with this at all. Ultimately, we decided that being part of the solution - or even just attempting to be a part of solution - is better than sitting around and complaining about it. If, after all of this, in the smallest way possible, we are part of that solution rather than the problem then it will have been worth it all.
We all know by now that our planet is in deep trouble. We have abused it horribly and we are paying the price. It’s time to try to do what we can, both as individuals and collectively, to find better and kinder ways to live. It’s not our right; it’s our responsibility. We are all guilty. We can all change.
With this video, abeautifullie.org and the making-of, we hope that we can share with you all in some small way the experience that inspired us so much and that you can join us in this great adventure. We know you were there in spirit and, as always, supporting our collective dreams together.
So, now that you are here on abeautifullie.org we encourage you to dig around, explore, get involved and share your journey with us. Together, we can do something great and make a difference.
P.S. - Being the first American video ever shot in its entirety in the Peoples Republic of China was an incredible honor, being the first (but hopefully not the last) shot in the Arctic is a dream. We're just wondering what we could possibly do next...hmmm.....well I do have this one idea......
P.P.S - Emissions from the energy consumed in connection with producing the A Beautiful Lie video were offset using Solar Energy Certificates purchased from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The certificates support enough solar energy to offset approximately 250,000 Kilowatt hours, or 350,000 pounds of CO2 emissions – the approximate emissions reduction equivalent of planting 46 acres of trees or not driving 36 cars for one year.