Week Fifty Two

Nolan Tredway for Eagle Seagull

Posted in Art news by sarahbakerhansen on 24 March 2010

My friend and Lincoln artist Nolan Tredway recently finished producing and directing a new video for Lincoln band Eagle Seagull’s first single off its long-awaited second album “The Year of the How-To Book.” The song, “Twenty Thousand Light Years,” is a fan favorite at the band’s live show. Tredway, known for both his postapocalyptic fantasy paintings and his fierce puppeteer skills, graciously answered a few questions about the video. See “Twenty Thousand Light Years” after the Q&A.

Week Fifty Two: Tell us how this whole collaboration came about.

Nolan Tredway: I don’t remember. I think it started in 2006, right after the last Milk episode (Milk is Tredway’s short film series featuring marionettes; see more here and here) came out, and Eagle Seagull’s first album came out. We were at a Milk show at Brothers Lounge in Omaha, and Eli (Mardock, Eagle Seagull’s lead vocalist) and I discussed doing a video for their next album. I’m not really sure whose idea puppets were, but I think since Milk was playing that night it was just kind of assumption. So every time the band got their hopes up that the album was going to come out, talks would start back up about the video. I think this is the third song on the album we’ve discussed a video for. So I’ve probably heard those three songs about 500 times each, and I’m still not sick of them.

W52: Have you ever done a music video before?

NT: I did a video for The Show is the Rainbow, but there was no budget and I tried to incorporate both puppets and humans into it. Big mistake. Humans are so unreliable.

W52: Did you collaborate with Eagle Seagull on the concept of the video?

NT: Eli had envisioned puppets of the band as cosmonauts coming and teaching a planet full of dog people to dance. As anyone who has seen Team America knows, marionettes and action scenes do not exactly go hand in hand, so we focused more on the Soviet-era fear of mutually assured destruction, which played well into the chorus of “We just came to dance.”

W52: The song has a super fun alien-themed storyline – Did you come up with the “cat” people and the look of the aliens?

NT: I love that everyone thinks they look like cats! They don’t look like that to me at all. I had made some sketches for the original storyboards, and then just kind of tried to match it. I constructed the puppets, ship and some of the sets. We built 15 puppets, 5 sets, shot, edited and added all of the digital effects in three and a half weeks with a very limited budget. So much of the work came from an amazing team of people willing to work for pizza and beer. (Lincoln-based filmmaker) Kyle Stebbins and I would have a team of puppeteers and a film crew in the Roundus office, and a team of people down the hall in my studio who worked on finishing the puppets, sets and props for the next shot. It was kind of insane schedule, and there were mornings I would vomit from not sleeping and stress, but all in all, it was a great time.