It sounds like an extreme adventure challenge: hit 10 cities in three weeks to film with no permits, or spend a day filming a band in a sub-zero freezer. But those situations were just par for the course for the two men behind Death Cab For Cutie’s new video, the epic, almost-nine-minute-long “I Will Possess Your Heart.”
The album version of the video premiered on April 11 on MTV.com and VH1.com. The shorter, single-length version premiered the following day on MTV2, and the video was immediately added to MTV, MTV2, VH1, and Fuse in its first week.
Aaron Stewart-Ahn, who wrote the treatment for the video, was tasked with hitting London, Paris, Frankfurt, Carthage and Tunis in Tunisia, Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia, Tokyo and Hokkaido in Japan, and New York to film the female subject of the video over the course of three weeks. The final version of the clip shows the young woman, who has not been identified, in near-constant motion as she travels from city to city, riding trains and wandering around markets.
“I wanted to touch on the themes of solo travel and running away,” says Stuart-Ahn, who has previously directed other Death Cab videos, as well as clips for the Decemberists. “I don’t think people really get how dark the song is, and I wanted it to be very subtle.”
When it came time to shoot the band, Stuart-Ahn called Shawn Kim, a cinematographer/videographer who has directed videos for Hot Hot Heat, among others. Kim told Billboard his part of the video was actually easier than Stuart-Ahn’s, because, “I got to step outside and warm up, while he was stuck on the road for weeks.”
Kim filmed the band in the freezer because they expressed an interest in being in an adverse environment and having the ability to see their breath while performing. “We had to keep rotating the band members in and out, because they would get sick otherwise. We even had a medic on set,” he says.
When it came time to do the edits, Stuart-Ahn was the one making the cuts. “I knew we would be doing two versions of the video from the outset, so I was prepared,” he says.