The video was running at about the $1 million level and still nobody was really concerned about the money. They hired an M1 Abrams tank and its driver from the local National Guard armory and bought permission to paint it up in black from stem to stern-- the tank, not the driver --and flew a couple of red Japanese-style pennants off the back. The turret was locked in eyes-forward position and the construction crew built a platform seamlessly over it, making the vehicle tiered like a battleship. The first two days were spent shooting Lavender Muse and the band pretending to perform on top of the moving tank and just riding around this movie set made to resemble Wall Street, with pennants of black sackcloth hanging from the facade and a crowd of extras lining the 'street,' brought in for these shots, asked or made to dress all in black and dark gray, heavy formal dress, even though it was May and we were warm in shirtsleeves. Some military vehicles were dragged in from a historical society to fill out the background, painted black as well, pacing the tank at times. Black and silver confetti rained on the second day-- a real mess between takes --as well as, for some reason, black electrical cords.
Perhaps known too well, they were told explicitly by the studio not to crash the tank into the sets, but they were not forbidden from driving it over assorted Escalades, BMWs and Jaguars, which is what they did the next three days. The band's reaction shots on those days were much better... the extras are not to react. The vehicles were stripped of internal parts beforehand, but it didn't really mitigate the spiraling cost of the shoot.
The gloomy, almost metallic sky will be added in post, although they managed to catch one legitimately dreary afternoon. The band were dressed like British mortuary attendants, I'm told, black wool coats and top hats wrapped in black gauze.
The intent of the production design is to have Lavender be the only bright spot within the entire short film. She was attired all in metallic red vinyl for it, including the long military duster, and wore a succession of styles of officer's cap which will change randomly during the video. Her face looked like a skull nested in all that, her hair lost under all the red, brown eyes like rattle-marbles.
The last couple days they dragged tank and all into a studio and shot in front of a greenscreen, partly to get actual performance footage atop the stationary vehicle, partly for coverage. Candid shots-- drinking champagne and wiping her mouth off on her sleeve, making big eyes and a peace sign at the camera like some daffy Tokyo schoolgirl --will be added at the insistence of the band, injecting needed levity to an otherwise self-important work.
The final product: something between triumphal parade and invasion as Lavender Muse and the Ill-Conceived Notions roll down the Canyon of Heroes in a monstrous black tank like _Warhammer 40K,_ flattening inferior vehicles in sprays of safety glass and shards of bodywork as they perform 'Pest or Pestilence,' hoary old institutions draped in black bunting and a slaty sky raining countermeasure chaff, a subdued, submitting crowd, an army of Mr. Jenkinses in grave suits, pale faces smearing by like wads of gum ground into the asphalt. Dark days indeed. This would be tied up a month and a half after the shoot.
The wrap was commemorated in the typical way, with conspicuous consumption of drugs, and theft of anything remotely souvenir-worthy.
Lavender stirred her Pernod with a colorless blending marker. Minutes earlier she'd helped Worm Turn talk the Abrams crew into giving him a spin around the studio parking lot. In actuality they were off the studio grounds now and headed through Griffith Park, but she was unaware of this.
"Where do they come up with these ideas?" was Vulnavia's summation of the past week. He yelled it because it was quite loud in the room. He had a cigarette and a bottle in one hand, which he waved about, and he could only see what was directly in front of him. Presently this was Lavender.
"I don't know. I can't imagine they're getting them from our songs, they're really quite harmless." Lavender giggled and sipped her drink, breathing deeply of anise and xylene.
"Harmless. We're harmless. Pay no attention to the man behind the test tube."
"What're you talking about?"
Lavender frowned. "I'm afraid I don't really know."
"That's good. Well, I'm outta here."
"Are you driving like that?"
Lavender tapped the metal butt of her marker against Vulnavia's nearly empty liquor bottle.
"Like what?" he said again, smirking.
Lavender tapped again. "That."
"That," she pronounced again. "I can drop you off."
"I did not buy an armor plated chopped and channeled BOMB so that I could be dropped off." Vul drank the rest of the whiskey, and crammed his cigarette into the corner of his mouth, looking resolute. He thought about flinging the empty against the far wall, but tossed it lightly onto the couch instead. He found his bearings and exited.
"Oh," said Lavender to no one. "Well, I'm going home." She set her glass down and capped the marker.
Lavender still didn't have any furniture. The carpet was more than comfortable with a blanket on it, especially if she'd been drinking, and she curled up there, folding half of the blanket over herself. The blinds chattered faintly in the breath of the overhead fan. It was pleasantly cool but she couldn't bear the whirling motion, so Lavender switched it off, the blur contracting to a dark asterisk in the twilight space above her empty bedroom. The spinning of her head took over until she slept.
Lavender fell into a deep sleep in which she saw huge black battle tanks crawling over the hills of Malibu, knocking millionaires' homes off cliffs and spraying cheery gouts of flaming gasoline. She watched from miles across an inlet, the great machines trundling silently like black beetles, the fire quiet as distant pennants, bright and broad enough to color the choppy waves. The dream was in third person so she saw herself from behind, wrapped in a long black coat too large for her. She sat in a director's chair which might have really belonged to a director before it was hers, and she sipped what she understood to be tea. The activity seemed to concern her but also seemed not very special... the dream Lavender was bored and soon got up and went inside.
There was another dream with silver spiders that wanted to touch her eyes with their long metal legs. In that one she was tied down, and it was in first person.