For best quality, please make sure player is set to at least 720P mode (button that looks like a cog), go full screen and use decent Soviet headphones / speakers to hear subliminal message from Kremlin.
Last summer a quiet day in the Hertforshire countryside was disrupted by fire and smoke and an object falling faster than the speed of sound. Curious locals were roadblocked by police, assisted by a number of plainclothes agents from the security services. The exact nature of the object, and its occupants, has been kept a close secret until now.
The 1988 Soyuz 41 mission was assumed to have failed, as the USSR refused to make any comments on its outcome. Captains T Rodski and P Kelsko were never heard of again, and joined the legion of Lost Cosmonauts.
However, they appeared again in Herts that day last year, and our Trans-Siberian March Band had a close encounter with them when they stumbled into our after-show party. We would have asked them where they’d been for the past twenty-odd years, but you know you can never have a serious conversation at a party.
It was Autumn of 2010 and the TSMB decided it needed a proper video. We decided on Petyorshka, a tune about a man, a fiver and a sheep, from our first album.
Omer, our Tuba player, knew a talented director called Kobie Flashman, who had worked a lot with Omer’s girlfriend Einav, an equally talented film producer. Having checked out Kobie’s excellent work with Balkan Beat Box we needed no persuading and they very kindly agreed to make the band a film in exchange for 7 kilos of borek.
And so much discussion ensued of all the usual things involved in making a band’s first video – squashed antelopes, mystical treasure chests, time-travel vortexes and lost soldiers in the desert.
But none of it quite made sense. Then, at a rehearsal the following spring, Pippa, the band’s wise elder stateswoman of saxophone, came up with the obvious solution: Cosmonauts. Rob the percussion, being secretly a space-alien himself, was enthusiastic, and managed to persuade a highly sceptical band and perhaps more sceptical producer that OF COURSE he could build a Soyuz landing capsule out of bathroom flooring and chicken-wire, and so the hunt was on for a location.
Woodlands and castles were visited, mud flats were photographed and panicked phone calls were made between Louisville USA, London and Tel Aviv until our bass trombonist Donald mentioned that he happened to live on a private island in a large boat with a nature reserve, smoke machine, 20 willing extras, an elaborate Victorian lock and a 70 year-old rusted bus from Afghanistan at the end of his gangplank.
Next we needed cosmonauts. Good ones that would tirelessly work like lunatics in good humour until they dropped. Rob’s decidedly Soviet-looking brother Phil (TSMB percussion regular dep. and star of cookery show Zombie Cuisine) and the band’s friend, photographer and ardent supporter Tony Rodd both stepped up to the plate. Unbeknownst to them they were about to put in the hardest 36 hours work in music video history while imprisoned in genuine, hermetically-sealed Soviet space suits.
Freshly married to the beautiful Emily, cosmonaut Phil was whisked back from the US of A and promptly deposited in glamorous Bishop’s Stortford. Tony was driven there, squashed under a quarter of a ton of lights, smoke machines and spaceship in a Daewoo so weighed down it scraped along the ground.
They ran, jumped, climbed, fell, danced (and sweated about 8 litres of fluid) until they were nearly as perished as the rubber of their space-pants. Tony also did some magnificent design and building work on the landing capsule, much to the bemusement of the people of New Cross Gate.
And so the kind and very tolerant people of April Island let the Trans-Siberian March Band descend upon them bearing space craft, enough lights to be seen from space craft, cameras, generators, photographers, PA systems, make up artists, 20 more extras, hoola girls, neat vodka and fire-breathing maniacs (in the shape of Rob’s younger brother Piers and his friend Charlotte). The spaceship was completed with fine stenciling by 3AM Friday, and Donald, Rob and the cosmonauts had a generous 3 hours’ sleep on the floor of a boat before Kobie, Einav and 4 very fine make-up artists turned up at 6AM Saturday and the shoot began.
A savage 21 hours of non-stop filming ensued before everybody piled into bed at 3AM, allowing themselves another generous 3 hours’ sleep before getting back up at 6AM and cajoling very, very tired and broken cosmonauts back into their stinking, sweat-laden space suits to film the next scenes in the dawn light.
Kobie was about to start the edit but was abducted by space-aliens himself, and so post-production could not begin in earnest until the autumn. Through some exceptional editing from Kobie and some exceptionally long e-mail poking from Rob, the film was created, and the animated opening sequence was designed and built by the disgustingly talented artist and animator Liam Brazier.
Then came the sound. Rob’s mum’s vacuum cleaner pipes, corkscrew, cutlery and net curtains were stolen and turned into space suit foley, footsteps were recorded down the side of her shed and birdsong captured in nearby woodlands. Frying pans were spat in and put on wet grass to sizzle, and trumpeter Kath contributed many excellent bits to the sound by sucking her trumpet out of muddy plant pots, concocting choirs of crows, whips and the sound of Ludmilla’s unfortunately rusty neck.
Laughing clarinets and dodgy Russian dialogue was recorded at clarinetist Issy’s house, comedy trombone at tenor trombonist Sarah’s gaff, tubas, trombones, sax and trumpet were recorded at Rob’s studio at Strongroom, drums and guitars in his bedroom and moans, groans, snores, thuds and screaming were recorded at numerous other exotic locations throughout London. Short-wave radios were tuned, Soviet sound archives plundered and Donald trumped it all by recording a Russian voiceover in the back of a taxi in Kazan using an iPad.
Rob mangled this all into shape to create the soundtrack and ‘score’ for the beginning of the film. But there was a problem with the opening scene, the space ship was too wobbly, probably due to being made from bathroom flooring and chicken-wire, and so Mike Connolly of Electric Pig rescued it with visual FX magic to tranquilise this giant, nervous snail.
Kobie then bolted all the pieces together over a painstaking few weeks, and the film was released on the 16th of March 2012. Phew.
A huge thank you from the band to Kobie, Einav, Phil, Tony, Liam, Mike, the people of April Island and all the cast, tech crew, lenders of kit and many hard working extras for making our first film.
Director, D.O.P, Camera One, Editor and Colourist – Kobie Flashman
Producer – Einav Massad
Co-Producer – Rob Kelly
Sound Design and Mix – Rob Kelly
Sound Design – Kath Pollard
Animation – Liam Brazier
Makeup Artists – Lacy Rixon, Solo James, Roxy Ruin, Katrina Nicolas,
Visual FX – Mike Connolly at The Electric Pig Ltd
Lighting – Mary Gitman and Dan Babayoff
Camera 2 – Robin Webster
Stills Photography – Orly Zailer
Cosmonauts – Phil Kelly and Anthony Rodd
Trans-Siberian March Band:
Catherine Morgan – Trumpet
Donald Ridley – Bass Trombone
Fotis Begklis – Percussion
Isabella Fletcher – Clarinet
Kath Pollard – Trumpet
Lucy Lester – Tuba
Nick Sweeney – Guitar
Omer Plotniarz – Tuba
Pippa Holmes – Soprano Saxophone
Rebecca Millward – Clarinet
Rob Kelly – Percussion
Sally Outwin – Alto Saxophone
Sarah Mann – Tenor Trombone
Hoop Dancer – Sophie Page-Hall
Fire Breather / Fire Spinner – Piers van Looy
Fire Spinner – Charlotte Ball
Michal Paker – Bearded Woman
Teresa Baumgärtel – Belly Dancer
Dan, Gemma, Gaia and Leah Peppiatt
David van Dokkum
Incidental Music – Rob Kelly
Arrangement of Petyorshka by The TSMB.
Music Recording Engineers - Duncan “Pixie” Mills and Rob Kelly
Music Editing – Kath Pollard
Music Editing, Mixing and Mastering – Rob Kelly
Space capsule design and build – Anthony Rodd and Rob Kelly
Russian radio announcer – Olga Poroshenko
Costumes provided by Mad World, Costume Studio and Costume Hire (City Branch)
Location Scouting – Einav Massad, Omer Plotniarz and Rob Kelly
Location provided by Donald Ridley and Dudley Blake- filmed with kind permission of Dudley and the people of April Island.
April Island Crew:
The TSMB would like to thank:
The people of April Island
Daniel Mitlepunkt at Day For Night Films
Andy Schonfelder at Light and Time Ltd
Christine Blundell at Brush Strokes Studio
James Irwin at Focus 24
Mor Bakal – Cover Design
And a special thank you to Kobie and Einav.