Jarrett Heather creates “Word Crimes” music video for Al Yankovic
What does state worker Jarrett Heather at the California Department of Food and Agriculture do in his spare time? Single-handedly create Weird Al Yankovic’s #1 music video “Word Crimes” on Youtube.
In the first week of of the video’s release “Word Crimes” received 11 million views! Making it the Number One most-watched music video on Youtube.
“Word Crimes” is a single from the latest Weird Al Yankovic (or is he just going by “Al Yankovic” these days?) album Mandatory Fun. The album and all of the music videos for it were released simultaneously on July 15, 2014.
By simultaneously releasing everything at once, it sounds like the Netflix model of releasing all episodes of a series at the same time is taking hold into other media and distribution platforms as well.
(FIRST UP: My apologies to Jarrett Heather. I presented his last name was Heath in my news story. So I’m correcting that here and in all the titles of the news story I’ve posted. I’m also correcting this as I am presently expanding the KCRA news story into a longer magazine story for KCRA’s Common Ground, which will run on Saturday, August 16, 2013, at 6:30 PM, right after the Six O’Clock News.
(INCIDENTALLY: Upon realizing this I e-mailed my regrets to Jarrett, who graciously responded: “Don’t sweat the name thing. In truth I am a “Heath” if you go back 10 generations back or so. Family legend says my ancestors added the -er to evade the law. I only worry that you might have inadvertently blown our cover.” )
KCRA-3 anchor Edie Lambert first came to me about doing this story with her, because she knows of my love for films and my own filmmaking. I knew absolutely nothing about it, but signed on. But between Jarrett’s availability and Edie’s availability (she just returned from maturity leave after having her second child), she offered the story to me to produce as one of my own reporter-photographer packages if I’d like.
I met Jarrett at his home, where he lives with his wife Danielle and seven-year-old son Ethan, and interviewed & filmed him in his office — which is one of the first rooms you come to in the house.
Since I would be using clips from “Word Crimes,” as well as his earlier film “Shop Vac” for so much of the news story, I did no need to shoot a lot of extra footage.
To make the B-roll footage a bit more dynamic I brought along my Canon 7D with the super-wide Tokina 11-16mm lens for a few shots. In all, including arriving and setting up a single soft light, because Jarrett’s office space is fairly dark, doing the shoot, packing up & leaving–I don’t think I was at his house for much more than 45-minutes.
Jarrett was not only generous with me, but is generous with his talent, what he does & how he does it. He’s posted a terrific behind-the-scenes look at how he made “Word Crimes” on his own website spaceparanoids.net
Jarrett Heath is an incredibly nice and generous guy. during the interview he sat at the personal computer that he created “Word Crimes” on, and had it open to the “Word Crimes” Adobe After Effect file — which he tells me that he’s still tweaking! (So, who knows? If you check out the video in another month or so he may have improved & replaced it.)
In this New York Times article — at the end of the first week of sales Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun became the #1 top-selling album on Billboard’s charts with sales of 104,000. The first time that a comedy album had held that place in forty years ta comedy album had held that place! The last time had been Allan Sherman’s My Son, The Nut in 1963.
The news story could not exceed 1:30 (one-minute thirty-seconds) and Jarrett was so terrific that I am currently expanding the piece out to a 3-minute+ version for the KCRA-3 magazine program Common Ground in August.
For those who are interested in behind-the-scenes of the news business, here is the script that I worked from on the story. Note: there are one or two things that I changed or could not squeeze into the final piece for time reasons:
CARROLL Jarrett – Yankovic music video 7-24-2014
OF THE TOP-TEN MOST WATCHED MUSIC VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE THIS WEEK, THREE WERE ALL FROM AL YANKOVIC’S NEW ALBUM—“MANDATORY FUN” — AND NUMBER-ONE, “WORD CRIMES”, WAS MADE RIGHT HERE IN SACRAMENTO. KCRA’3’S MIKE CARROLL VISITED THE VIDEO ARTIST JARRETT HEATHER AND HIS COMPUTER IN A HOUSE ON A QUIET STREET IN ELK GROVE.
00-05 ELK GROVE
JARRETT HEATHER At-Home Animator
OPEN JARRETT HEATHER At-Home Animator
Cl 01 0.14 One day I was just doing my job at work at the State of California and then in my In-Box it said, “New message from Al Yankovic.”
0.45 He said he’d seen SHOP VAC, which is a cartoon I did about three years ago.
“SHOP VAC” WAS JARRETT HEATHER’S PREVIOUS FILM. IN FACT, IT WAS JARRETT’S –ONLY- FILM. AND WENT VIRAL ON YOUTUBE RECEIVING OVER A MILLION VIEWS.
3.12 I read the manual and started putting shots together.
JARRETT, A WEIRD AL YANKOVIC FAN FOR THIRTY YEARS, JUMPED AT THE CHANCE TO WORK WITH HIM. BUT—-“SHOP VAC” HAD TAKEN JARRETT EIGHTEEN MONTHS TO MAKE. FOR AL YANKOVIC’S “WORD CRIMES” HE WOULD HAVE ONLY—90 DAYS.
5.10 I figured if I did fail it would have been Al’s fault for hiring a software developer for making his cartoon.
“WORD CRIMES” IS 244-SECONDS LONG. EACH SECOND TOOK 2-HOURS AT THE COMPUTER — 500-HOURS WORK.
Cl 3 5.38 This was done 99% by me alone.
AND ALL DONE IN JARRETT’S SPARE TIME — WHILE BEING A HUSBAND, FATHER AND WORKING HIS FULL-TIME JOB AT THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE.
4.10 I would get up at 5 in the morning—work on the video.
NOW, SINCE PREMIERING ON YOUTUBE ONE WEEK AGO, “WORD CRIMES” HAS HAD—11 MILLION VIEWS.
7.38 My in-box is full now. I have a lot of people wanting me to do videos for them. OR:::
6.38 I think it’s exceeded everybody’s expectations.
AND JARRETT FINALLY GOT TO MEET AL YANKOVIC, WHO TOOK HIM TO BREAKFAST TO SHOW HIS THANKS.
7.03 He’s just a genuine geek like you’d expect him to be.
SO WHAT’S ON JARRETT’S PLATE NOW? NOTHING. HE’S PERFECTLY CONTENT HAVING HIS NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS –FREE. BUT—
8.18 If Al would come back to me asking to do another video with him, I would say yes just as fast ‘caus I would love to work with him again.
IN ELK GROVE, I’M MIKE CARROLL, KCRA-3 NEWS.
JARRETT TELLS US HE’S BEEN GETTING LOTS OF CALLS FROM PEOPLE SEEKING ADVICE ON HOW TO GET INTO ANIMATION. HIS RESPONSE IS: READ THE SOFTWARE INSTRUCTION MANUALS, LIKE HE DID.