I sent over some questions to Open the Portal, the directors of Fall Out Boy’s “Love from the Other Side” video, and you can find that, along with some behind the scenes photos from the video shoot below.
Can you tell us a little about your company?
Open The Portal is an LA-based creative production studio born by accident from the ashes of a bad situation.
We started collaborating in our band Great Glass Elevator as teenagers and got a deal with Atlantic Records in 2006, right in the heat of the battle between digital and physical music sales. The A&R who signed us was let go from the label, leaving us effectively orphaned. Undaunted, we took matters into our own hands, promoting our new EP with a DIY stop-motion music video we made in a bedroom.
Through the process of making that video (which, oddly enough, also featured entering storybooks), we found we had everything we needed to make our own visuals and sound, and, most importantly, make it the way we wanted. We continued working together, and never looked back.
In 2015 we officially launched Open The Portal. Since then we have sold an original pilot, hosted our own panel at Comic Con, and worked on projects with Harry Styles, Katy Perry, Disney, and Eminem, among others.
No matter what we do or who we work with, the DIY/garage band ethos that got us started has and always will stand as the central core of our work.
Who you are, what you do:
Open The Portal’s permanent members are studio co-directors David Braun and Barrett Slagle and executive producer Jason Milov. Everyone wears a lot of hats, but David tends to lead the visual aesthetic, Barrett directs the audio vision, and Jason maintains our professional network.
Outside the three of us, we have a dream team of 30-40 artists that we call up on a project-to-project basis.
How did you first come to know about Fall Out Boy?
We first saw Fall Out Boy’s name popping up around 2002 on absolutepunk.net (which, I’m sure, most of your readers recognize as the earliest version of this website). A friend who had recently moved from Chicago to California couldn’t stop raving about a show he had seen them play back home. They performed at our hometown independent venue Chain Reaction, and the buzz rose to a roar.
When Take This to Your Grave dropped in 2003, we felt like we were part of one of the first online communities that witnessed and supported the band’s rise to success.
What do you consider your company’s style or aesthetic?
Our style is a reflection of our core: create works of weirdness with a heart.
For us, that means making things by hand, whenever possible, to celebrate the signature roughness and creative invention that is the nature of stop-motion animation, rather than trying to hide it. Although we are constantly pushing our use of technology to create bigger and more immersive projects, nothing is off the table when it comes to our toolbox.
For example, the ice effect in the “Antarctica” scene at the opening of this video was achieved by shooting paper cutouts on a ripple glass shower door we found on the sidewalk outside of our studio.
You could call our style “Technotrash.”
We live by a gem of an adage from the Choido Brothers, namesake of the band Chiodos and personal mentors of ours: “No matter how real digital effects look, they are always fake, but no matter how fake practical effects look, they are always REAL.”
What was it like working with the band? Did they come to you with the idea already fleshed out, or did you work with them to come up with the ideas, story, and theme?
Fall Out Boy came to us with a very strong vision for a fantasy video borrowing elements from 80s films like Edward Scissorhands and The Neverending Story, filtered through a handmade aesthetic, and energized with the spirit of a child’s imagination. The pitch was a snap fit with our style, and we hit the ground running. We appreciated how open they were to the ideas we brought to the table, and we are beyond proud of the final product we created together.
Fall Out Boy’s commitment to the concept was notable: when it came time to shoot the scene where they get bagged by the evil wolves, they let us throw burlap bags over their heads and literally yank them out of frame (for multiple takes until we got it right)!
How long does a video like this take from pitch to completion?
We got the first written treatment on this video in mid-October of 2022. From there we worked from concept to completion in about three months. This time frame can vary, depending on the scale and nature of the project, since we have turned around music videos in as few as three weeks and as long as six months.
Can you tell us a little about how you leveraged practical and computer effects in the video? You mentioned “handcrafted in miniatures using old school movie effects,” could you detail this for me? How long did that take? What’s the process like? How many team members did it take?
From our very first conversations with the band, we agreed that this needed to be a world that felt real and took itself seriously. The characters never wink at the camera, or believe anything other than the total reality of this fantasy world. We spent a few weeks experimenting with different techniques, and ended up finding a combination of life-sized props (torture devices, the wolves’ accessories, etc.), live actors, and worlds built in miniature, photographed to feel larger than life.
When it came to the digital process, we wanted to evoke classic film effects like Pepper’s Ghost and Multiple Exposure, and had to look no further than our mad genius, VFX director Thomas Bailey, to integrate the in-camera elements with the artistic touch of old school filmmaking. For special effects shots like the collapse of the wolf tower, we shot at a higher frame rate to give the miniatures a grander feeling of size and weight.
We’re proud to say that more people were involved in this video than any other project we’ve undertaken at Open The Portal, with the final tally of contributors coming close to 100 people!
What happens to all the items after the video shoot?
Almost everything gets destroyed in our process of making these projects. So, we typically end up recycling most of the materials for our next adventure. We do hold on to a few keepsakes for posterity, and Fall Out Boy asked to hold onto the sacred medallion that gave them their powers in the video, so keep an eye out!
Any funny or memorable stories from the shoot?
While the guys were getting their hair and makeup done for the scene where they get their powers, Andy started up a conversation about black metal, Juggalo culture and Insane Clown Posse. Before long it was apparent that he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject, and by the end of the conversation he asked us if we were cool with him wearingcorpse paint in the video.
We were so glad he suggested it, because his look really tied the whole video together in the end.
Fall Out Boy, as a band, is known for their theatrical and often over-the-top videos. Was there a goal to go even more above and beyond what they’d done in the past?
All of us recognized that this was a special moment for Fall Out Boy since it was their first song and music video in five years. As such, the band was involved in every step of the process. We faced all sorts of unexpected challenges along the way, but we pushed each other well, stayed the course, and could not be happier with the reception we have received. We are tremendously grateful for all the comments the video is getting so far, and we can’t wait to see what the band does next.
If you’d like to stay in touch with us, give us a follow on Instagram, we love to connect with people who love the same weird stuff we’re into!