Made under an extreme time crunch with a little help from her friends, Vancouver-based filmmaker Jem Garrard's video for Ringo Starr's new single, Wings, has won an international competition – chosen by Starr himself to become the official promotional video for the track.
"What a great little video that was," Starr said on a video posted on Monday to Genero.tv, which hosted the online competition.
The video features a heartsick court-jester puppet who pines for the impossible: the human woman who owns him. Jealous of the teddy bear who is propped up on her bed, and desperately trying to create a drawing that will adequately express his love, the puppet expresses a range of emotions while the high-heeled object of his affection is out picking up groceries.
"Kind of bearing in mind Ringo's sense of humour, I thought that I would just ... kind of go for something wacky and it will be a risk, but he'll either love it or hate it," says Garrard, who is from London but moved to Vancouver three years ago after falling in love with the city during a family vacation.
A devoted Beatles fan, Garrard, 26, learned about the video contest from the band's Facebook page in early March – just five days before the deadline.
She immediately summoned her animator friend Tamsin Baker to a local coffee shop, where they spent hours working through ideas.
"I was fully aware that it was sounding crazy," Garrard says. "But I called up my crew and wrote the idea that night and just didn't sleep for four days."
Within a day, she also found a location (the North Vancouver apartment of the video's lighting designer/still photographer) and at the Granville Island Kids Market, she found the video's puppet, which quickly earned the name Starr.
Even though they were shooting the next day, she insisted on a last-minute addition: a dog, a well-trained Chihuahua, Cheeto.
On day three – a very long day – Garrard and her crew shot the video, followed by two days of post-production, including an all-nighter.
They uploaded the video on day five, right down to the wire.
"We were literally waiting for the upload bar as the minutes were counting down for the deadline. It was crazy, stressful," Garrard says.
On Monday, Starr announced that Garrard's video had won the competition – even if he wasn't sure how to pronounce her name (hard or soft "g," he wondered; hard is correct).
"That was an added bonus, having Ringo Starr say my name," Garrard says.
The victory comes with $3,000 (which she will split with the friends who worked on the video), but it is also career-affirming, and could open doors, she hopes.
Garrard, whose bread and butter comes mostly from making promotional corporate videos, aspires to direct feature films and, along the way, more music videos. "I'm hoping to be able to concentrate solely on this sort of work," she says. "Maybe I'll see if Paul's interested in a video as well."