The Making of a Music Video: “Empty” by Sleeping With Spiders

By Michelle Maslanka • Producer

Adapting a Shakespearean classic such as Macbeth is no easy task, and placing this retelling in the condensed confines of a music video only adds to the challenge. But that did not deter the cast and crew involved in the latest Sleeping With Spiders music video; in fact, it was a challenge gladly accepted by all who were ready and willing to get their hands bloody...I mean dirty...for the sake of the video.

Chicago musician Chris Bongat’s solo project, Sleeping With Spiders, is all the right kinds of creepy, having what some call a “supernatural alternative” sound. Bongat is a true musical talent, having supplied lyrics and vocals, as well as guitar, piano, bass, and drums to the music he makes.

“This song is about losing someone and just wanting to deal with it on your own,” revealed Bongat when asked about his inspiration for “Empty”. “Instrumentally, I drew a lot of inspiration from metal and pop music.”

Bongat has teamed up with director Craig Bass on several projects, so the two have developed an understanding and admiration for each other’s work. Bongat noted of working with Bass, “He always takes the time to listen to the lyrics and find a middle ground for the both of us. He’s always very conscious of me, so I trust all his concepts.”

The inspiration behind the music video is the story of Macbeth. This is the first time Bass has adapted Shakespeare, a feat he has always wanted to tackle. He spoke of the timeless nature of Shakespeare. “With Shakespeare, it speaks to everybody, and that’s why his work has been relevant for over 400 years because he deals with issues that we all face. They’re very human issues. It’s a very human-centric body of work.”

It took three days of production, a tireless cast and crew, and about a dozen bottles of fake blood, to set the stage for this performance. Shot entirely in studio, each scene needed to be planned, designed, and constructed. Props, like the one-of-a-kind throne from Zap Props, and wardrobe, like the couture dresses by fashion designer Chris Carrillo of Devoid and Deveil, brought this video to a level no other Sleeping With Spiders video has reached yet.

Producer Lydia Koranda headed up the art and set design, and certainly had her hands full with the creation and acquisition of props and set pieces. “This video was an awesome exercise in problem solving and crafting. Since it's based off of a stage play, it was definitely fitting that everything was done practically, and sets and props were created by hand as much as possible. Making the crown, painting the walls, and sewing the curtain wall together definitely had their challenges, but worked out beautifully in the end. I'm very happy with how everything looked in the final video!”

Camera operator David Gall brought the vision to life with his keen eye and composition, which he has developed through his 14 years of photography experience. Experience that he put to good use in between takes, snapping photos that he later used for promotional material leading up to the music video release. (Check them out on the Sleeping With Spider Facebook page!)

One of the most challenging scenes to create was the blood wall. Key grip, Steve Brown, led the execution of this by creating a “blood gutter” to evenly distribute the dripping liquid. It was an overall hands-on, get-creative-with-it type of project to say the least.

“All I can say is I feel very blessed to be surrounded by other artists and can't thank them enough,” Bongat expressed. “They work the hardest on the videos and deserve all the credit.”

 

Credits:

Written and Performed by: Chris Bongat

Director | Director of Photography | Editor: Craig Bass

 

Regina Pollard - Lady Macbeth

Hillary Horvath - Witch

Zoquera Milburn - Witch

Felicity Mitchell - Witch

Nick Maslanka - Warrior

 

Lydia Koranda - Producer

Michelle Maslanka - Producer

David Gall - Camera Operator

Steve Brown - Key Grip | Warrior

Olivia Aquilina - Grip

Brendan Davis - Grip

Eric Wong - Grip | Warrior

Dan Stockhausen - Grip

Sofia Coria - Grip

Chris Carrillo (Devoid & Deveil) - Wardrobe

Beth Stockhausen - Makeup

Beth Vymyslicky - Scenic Artist

Katie Hildreth - Production Assistant

 

Special thanks: John Scaletta, Show Services, Holly Morgan, Eric Vymyslicky, Froggy’s Fog