Since being released online last week, the music video for “The TSA Song,” by Austin-based band Without a Face, has received considerable attention, inspiring spirited responses and debate on sites like Reddit, and zipping past the 50,000-view mark on YouTube.
The music video was shot in Guthrie and Oklahoma City earlier this summer and is co-produced by local filmmakers Eric Webb, Nathan Gardocki, and Vahid Farzaneh.
As of today, the uproariously over-the-top video has notched more than 62,300 YouTube views.
“The TSA Song,” is a satirical attack on the policies and practices of the Transportation Security Administration couched in a contemporary R&B ballad. The song is sung from the point of view of an overzealous TSA agent determined to visit “twisted sexual assault” or “TSA” upon anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves at his security checkpoint.
Henry Dillard, the sole member of Without a Face, was inspired to write The TSA Song out of frustration with the TSA and its practices that amount to what he called in a news release “government-sanctioned molestation. It was also an opportunity to challenge myself to explore a musical style that I normally don’t play.”
Writing an R&B song to satirize the TSA seemed most appropriate since “it seems to be pegged as a more sensual genre. I figured TSA probably wouldn’t see anything wrong with a little bump and grind,” he said in the release.
While some of the lyrics in The TSA Song are a little disturbing taken out of context, there’s also a sense of exaggerated absurdity that the video explores instead of focusing on more real-world scenarios.
“We want to draw attention to the issues, but in an entertaining way. We took our inspiration from the song, which already does a great job of striking that balance,” Webb, who directed the video, said in the release.
“It’s pretty obvious from the start that Henry’s character in the video is a special kind of creep, above and beyond the normal TSA Officer. The character has a rich and demented fantasy life that we explore in the video, that includes consensual interactions with passengers, role playing, and sexy back-up dancers.”
Webb and his co-producers assembled a talented cast and crew of 40 for the two-day shoot that took place in locations in Oklahoma City and Guthrie. Coming off shooting his first feature film, “Hollis,” talented up-and-comer Samuel Calvin was the director of photography on “The TSA Song.” Colin Warde served as art director, bringing with him years of experience working in Los Angeles and Oklahoma. 6 Film & Media Studies students from OU served as production assistants on the project. In addition to producing, Webb served as director and editor on the project, Gardocki as first assistant director, and Farzaneh as the camera operator.
The cast includes notable Oklahoma City performers such as comedian Brad Chad Porter, actresses and singers Renee Anderson and Rachael Barry, actor and musician Kaleb Bruza, improviser and actor Rory Littleton, and improvisers Michael Roberts and Jeanette Schreiber. The video also features members of Race Dance Company under the direction of veteran choreographer and instructor Hui Cha Poos.
The video was shot on the RED EPIC, provided by Farzaneh’s Freestyle Productions, according to the release. One of the best digital cameras in the world, the RED EPIC was used to shoot this summer’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the upcoming “Hobbit” films. Lighting equipment for the shoot was provided by Nathan Gardocki Productions.
The video was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign mounted earlier this year that exceeded its $5000 goal, raising $6,354 from nearly 100 backers. Donors earned rewards ranging from signed CD’s to original personalized ringtones and songs. One backer from Missouri received a house concert performance by Without a Face for his $2,500 contribution.
Without a Face is a genre-hopping one-man-band made up of singer-songwriter Henry Dillard. Without a Face’s music is playfully eclectic, dabbling in a myriad of song styles including folk, pop, rock, R&B, hip hop and soul. In 2009, Without a Face released “Worst Debut Album Ever” which was followed by “The 1st Album Was Better” in 2010, and “5 songs” in 2011, an EP that includes “The TSA Song.” Without a Face has toured throughout the South and Midwest often opening for nerd-rock band Ludo.
Without a Face is working on a new album with the working title “The American Scheme” currently set for an October 2012 release. Fans of “The TSA Song” can expect more songs about political and social issues on the new album, some serious and some more satirical. Dillard will also be continuing the trend of taking on more musical styles including jazz, folk, rock, gospel, and blues.