Eric Wareheim, one half of the comedy duo Tim and Eric and a frequent creator of music videos for indie bands, recently directed the bizarre and beautiful video for Beach House’s “Wishes.” It stars Ray Wise (otherwise known as Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks), and takes place in what must be the world’s strangest halftime show — think horse heads and plenty of iridescent, psychedelic colors. Wareheim talked to BuzzFeed about how he made the video, his new online comedy network, and the forthcoming show he and Tim Heidecker are making for Adult Swim, Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories.
How long did the “Wishes” video take to shoot?
Eric Wareheim: We shot it in one long night. I would say a good 14 hours. We had to wait until it was getting dark because I wanted it to be like a Friday night sports game — a halftime show. We actually had to cut a bunch of ideas that I wanted to do because it was a much bigger, more ambitious project than I originally anticipated.
How involved was the band in conceptualizing the video?
EW: Usually, when I make videos, I tell the band, “Let me just do my thing,” and they’re usually OK with that. But this time I had been wanting to work with Beach House for a while. We became friends and were kind of chatting about it. Victoria [Legrand, lead singer and organist of Beach House] had three ideas — she wanted Ray Wise, a horse, and a sports thing. So I took those three ideas and kind of worked it into this story. And at that point, they were just like, “Do whatever you want, we love that.” There’s got to be a lot of trust in these relationships for it to pop. Sometimes, once the band gets really heavily involved, it just gets a little muddy.
What’s your favorite moment of the video?
EW: My favorite moment is when one of the cheerleaders opens up her wings and starts spinning in them. I just think it’s such a beautiful, cinematic visual moment. It hits me on an emotional level every time I see it.
What were the biggest challenges of shooting it?
EW: Having a horse in there! We had a lot more stuff with the horse that we just had to cut. There was also an error in casting the background; we were supposed to have about 200 people back there, but there was a miscommunication and we only had 10. The special effects guys ended up having to multiply them to get the stadium filled up. I think it was a pretty good job.
How did you become friends with Beach House?
EW: I was, like, a mega-fan, and I knew their manager. When I was a photographer, I photographed this band he managed, and he’s from Baltimore, where I’m from, and where Beach House is from. One time when we were all there, they took me out and gave me a tour of Baltimore, like all these thrift shops and we went to the Lexington Market and had crabs. We just bonded. I think they were into my show, and I was into their music, and we always thought it would be great to make something together.
Do you play music yourself? You were in Ink & Dagger, right?
EW: Yes, I was in Ink & Dagger, the infamous vampire band. Only for one month, though. I toured with them, and they were SO CRAZY that I had to quit. I mean, there was this one tour where we literally lost our minds and we had no money. This one show at a university, they didn’t pay us our guarantee, so the guys in the band unscrewed the entire PA system and stole it. We drove into Canada and sold the PA system in the next town to make up for the money. There are a lot of stories that I can’t even tell you. There’s a documentary about this that this guy shot that everyone wants me to edit. But the singer died, and he was a good friend of mine. I just feel that it wouldn’t be appropriate. It was almost like real-life Jackass, before Jackass existed.
The Ink & Dagger thing was just a little sidestep. I was always in my own bands in Philadelphia. One was called Sola, one was called The Science Of. They’re kind of instrumental, Tortoise-inspired prog rock-y bands. There was a moment where music was my entire thing. I was also a photographer. I was making music videos for my bands forever. So that’s where the inspiration to make music videos came from.
Your work is really focused on weird, individual people. What’s your fascination with that?
EW: It’s just what I’m drawn to. Even in high school, I’ve always been drawn to movies like that, and visual things like Richard Avedon’s photographs of strange people, really close-up, seeing all of their flaws, which I think are like these beautiful things. In my videos, you’re never going to see these beautiful girls and handsome guys. It’s just the universe of real-life. That’s what turns me on. When I was a photographer, all I did was portraits of people in my neighborhood in South Philly, these really interesting people that just with one little frame, you can see their whole life. I did this photograph of a drifter, and you’re just blown away by all the stories that this guy must have.
What else are you up to this year?
EW: This year is insane. Tim and I are shooting a new pilot called Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories. It’s for Adult Swim. It’s like a Twilight Zone short film anthology series. Every week, you’ll tune in and get a 15-minute story. Most of them, Tim and I will be starring in, and if not we’ll be directing them. The first one is called “Haunted House,” and it’s Tim, me, and Zach Galifianakis. Every story is this fourth-dimensional nightmare.
We also launched this new YouTube channel called Jash. It’s a cool thing; Tim and I are making a lot of new content for this. We made a music video called “I Need a Goatee,” which is about Tim and I not being able to grow a goatee while everyone around us has them and they’re the coolest, sexiest men. We made this fake reality show called “The Go Pro Show.” Tim and I are friends with Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera and Reggie Watts, and we all kind of wanted to make a place on YouTube that wasn’t a shit zone. It’s a cool place to make whatever we want. We have a video coming up called “Baby Life Coach,” where men sing to pregnant women, and moan, and laugh with their children. And you can hire these guys to come over and do this for hours and hours. I just saw a rough cut of it and I was laughing so hard that I was in tears. If you can imagine the men that we cast to do this…you don’t want them anywhere near your baby.
How do you get so many awesome people to appear in videos?
EW: This is what we do with every kind of celebrity we work with — we’re like, “Listen, we’re huge fans of yours. Here’s a couple clips of what we do. I know it seems really insane, but we’d love to work with you.”
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