Music Video for Andy Kaufman Lives by Ice Cutters
October 6, 2016
‘Andy Kaufman Lives’ is a song which I wrote about the rumour that Andy Kaufman faked his death. This film was made a submission for the Kapow Intergalactic Film Festival in October 2016. http://www.kapowiff.com/.
I read the book ‘Lost In The Funhouse’ by Bill Zehme as research for the music video. The exterior shots were recorded whilst on holiday in The Netherlands (at Duinrell Attraction Park, The Hague, Rotterdam). The vocal performance was recorded at home in Prestatyn, North Wales.
The video assumes that Andy Kaufman faked his death and has ventured on a trip into the underworld.
I try to convey the ‘ride’ of his performances by using shots of the attraction park as an analogy. Here is a list of some other concepts / imagery which went into the music video
Paying the ferryman: A vocal sequence with round gemstones covering my eyes. Symbol of the dead paying the ferryman to cross into the underworld. Kaufman died with his eyes wide open. The practice was used in Italy to force the eyelids closed as part of the custom. To fake his death, a handful of people would have needed paying off to keep quiet.
Smoke and Mirrors: Vocal performance recorded into a mirror. Candles being blown out leaving a brief smoke trail. The performer being trapped ‘inside the mirror’ at the end of the song.
The clown: A disguise which Kaufman considered using in his new life. A reference to ‘Fugly The Klown’, a character associated closely with the artist. This could be anyone, an imposter, the man himself, a friend, a hollywood actor. He is there to promote the rumour and pay tribute to the man.
The gun: Kaufman often used a gun as a prop, pretending to shoot himself in performance. Directed at the audience, to convey the unease which he wanted to subject them to.
Splash ride: The boat crashing into the water from the slide conveys rebirth and return. Sudden and unexpected.
The house of shadows: Used for the opening title. Part of the attraction park. A dark room with a flash, creating a burst of green light. Shadows are captured and held on the wall until the next burst. A symbol of being in the limelight, but lasting only until the next flash.
The cherub: A shot near the start of the video. A cherub urinating water in a semicircular direction at the public. Another analogy of Andy Kaufman’s relationship with the audience.
Rollercoaster sequence: Considers what life is like is like away from the limelight; that it is happy and fulfilling.
The album: ‘American Pie’ by Don McClean. Used in the background for the vocal performance. Thought of the lyric ‘The day the music died’. An analogy and a tribute to iconic artists who died tragically young. This was the album from my childhood. It made me want to become a musician.
Numbers on knuckles: I inked the numbers 2519 onto my knuckles, barely visible and used for some parts of the vocal performance. Reference to his home / house number in the early 80’s.
Baron von munchausen: At the end of the video, a shot of the Baron reciting ‘the red baron is my name, lying is my favourite game’. This indicates the uncertainty behind the rumour and the likelihood that we may never know the truth. Also considers ‘Munchausen by Proxy syndrome’. a condition where a person fakes the illness of someone in their custody, often to the extreme.
You can hear more of my music (including the ‘Lost Souls’ album, on which ‘Andy Kaufman Lives’ is featured) at www.soundcloud.com/ice-cutters. I am also on twitter at www.twitter.com/icecutters.
Musical influences for this song: Nirvana, David Bowie, REM, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young.
Genre of music: Alternative, Indie, Rock, Pop, 80’s, Retro, Folk, Country.