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New York - Behind the Scene: Chasidic Singer Shoots Underwater Music Video (photo-video)

Published on: January 21, 2013 11:02 AM
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In this October 10, 2012 photo Singer Benny Friedman mid jump for the big dive scene for the video Maaleh Ani. The shoot took place in Waterbury, Connecticut. This jump was redone about ten times. New York - While shooting music videos has become a common way for singers to promote their latest albums, one well known performer has released a video that is unlike anything that has ever been done before in the Jewish music business.

Hot off the release of his new album Crown Heights resident Benny Friedman actually rejected the idea of an underwater video shoot the first time it was suggested by producer Moshe Bree late last summer during a photo shoot which included pictures of a fully dressed Friedman in a swimming pool, as well as a second time, just hours later, when Sruly Meyer, director of marketing at Aderet Music, saw some those same publicity shots and came up with the identical idea, even linking the concept of water to one of the songs on the album.

Behind the Scenes how it was done: Underwater Video

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“I’m not really a water sports person and I’m definitely not at my most comfortable under water,” Friedman told VIN News.  “When we were actually filming it, I was thinking ‘Why can’t I just get a normal job like everyone else?’”

But after a phone call with video co-producer Sruly Meyer who pointed out that water and the song Maaleh Ani both shared a common thread of sanctification, Friedman decided to reconsider his earlier stance.

Maaleh Ani is the fourth track of Friedman’s second album, Yesh Tikva, produced by Avi Newmark and composed by Elimelech Blumstein.  With lyrics taken from the Sfas Emes’ commentary on the ninety second kapitel of Tehillim, the song addresses the concept of kedusha.

“The more I thought about it, the more the connection between the idea and the song clicked in my head and that was when I got really excited,” said Friedman.

The Maaleh Ani video has received so far more then 21,00 hits:

While the singer jetted off to Los Angeles for several weeks, even setting aside some time to shoot footage for the project, Bree got to work finessing the details of what was sure to be a complicated shoot.

“There were a number of technical details we needed to figure out,” explained Bree.  “How to play the music underwater.  How to keep everyone from floating up.  How to maximize the ten seconds or so we would have for each shot.  I did a couple of test shoots over the summer with some friends to solve these issues.”

Filming finally took place in Waterbury, Connecticut, in Bree’s backyard pool on October 10th, one day after Succos.  A crisp fall day, the average recorded temperature was 53.7 degrees, hardly swimming weather.

“The pool was heated so things were okay while we were in the water,” reported Bree.  “The problem was stepping out, dripping wet, into the cold weather.”

It was a crew of five who spent much of the day climbing in and out of the water, consisting of Friedman, Bree, who purchased an underwater camera housing for the video shoot, guitarist Aryeh Kunstler, bass guitarist Elimelech Sperling and drummer Yisroel Reches, with filming taking place in numerous ten second increments.  All five wore ankle weights to keep them at the bottom of the pool and were so thoroughly chilled by the time shooting wrapped it took hot showers at Bree’s house to warm them up.

“Baruch Hashem no one got sick,” said Bree.
Drummer Yisroel Reches
Keeping the instruments underwater was equally challenging.  Using the drumsticks to punch holes in the top of the drums, the drums were filled with water and weighted to keep them from floating, as were speakers that were placed in the pool.  Kunstler’s wooden guitar proved to be another problem.

“It was solid wood and it wouldn’t sink or stay underwater,” said Meyer.  “We literally had to drill holes into it so that it wouldn’t float.”

With Maaleh Ani piped into the pool through an underwater bluetooth wireless speaker, all three musicians were actually able to play the song underwater.  While clearly Friedman was unable to actually sing in the pool, the singer, in his full dress attire of black suit, tie and cufflinks, is seen playing drums and air guitar, clapping and swimming around near the band members.  The only footage of Friedman singing underwater is displayed on a television set sunk into the bottom of the pool.
Guitarist Aryeh Kunstler
With the exception of Kunstler’s guitar, an old model that he no longer used, the other instruments, including a pair of giant speakers, were all purchased at a yard sale at a total cost of less than fifty dollars.  All were damaged beyond repair but Meyer was quick to add that the instruments were in poor condition before the filming even began.

“The drums were in miserable condition and the bass guitar was already busted, so for those are concerned, those instruments had been ruined far before we ever threw them into the water,” said Meyer.

The television set used in the video was a find that Bree came across one day on his way to Mincha.

“I had had the idea to composite some of the footage of Benny singing in California on a television set underwater,” said Bree.  “I quickly ran home, grabbed my car, picked up the TV and brought it home.”

Changing into his bathing suit, Bree tossed the television into his pool.

“This was about two weeks after the main shoot so the weather was even colder and I didn’t have a chance to heat up the pool,” recalled Bree.  “It was freezing.  I couldn’t get the TV to sink, even with putting twenty pounds of weights inside.  I ended up taking apart the TV, filming just the shell in the water and then digitally compositing the footage of Benny in Los Angeles onto the TV.”

Benny Friedman taking a moment to reflect before the video shoot<br />
Despite his initial resistance to the concept, the 28 year old Friedman is pleased with the results of the very atypical, not to mention soggy, shoot.

“The main objective with this kind of thing is to create a product that is first and foremost very entertaining, because that’s our job,” said Friedman.  “We are not rabbis or rosh yeshivas or anything like that, we are entertainers.  Our the goal is to create something that is entertaining, but at the same time keeps the spirit, the warmth, and the style of good, old fashioned Judaism and I think that this video does both of those things pretty well, thank G-d.”

Drummer completely submerged mid filming

Moshe Bree going over some of the shots, through his underwater casing

 



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Read Comments (24)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM PchaFresser Says:

Awesome!

2

 Jan 21, 2013 at 11:43 AM brooklyn mom Says:

meshigah! all that equipment detroyed--if anything was electrical like the guitars --that was extremely dangerous. I would expect this from goyishe groups who routinely smash their guitars, but I didn't expect this from Benny.

3

 Jan 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM Yossi Says:

This guys R loosing it, way out of normallity

4

 Jan 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Do what you want. But why say it has to do with kedusha

5

 Jan 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM DEBZ Says:

Meshogoyem

6

 Jan 21, 2013 at 12:55 PM IMHOpinion Says:

Don't see the excitement here.

In any case, I hope Someone is watching the young boy in the first pic standing so close to a deep swimming pool.

7

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:06 PM neezoogshoin Says:

Reply to #2  
brooklyn mom Says:

meshigah! all that equipment detroyed--if anything was electrical like the guitars --that was extremely dangerous. I would expect this from goyishe groups who routinely smash their guitars, but I didn't expect this from Benny.

I just don't get the cynicism I so often encounter when jewish creativity is on display. Are you jealous of the publicity, or just cannot "fargin" them?

Is it so hard to just be positive and say "wow, cute idea, I'm glad it worked out". Try it once, I guarantee you will feel better.

P.S. If you are truly concerned, I'm sure that they used a garbage fake guitar and other equipment.

8

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:12 PM KevinTheMevin Says:

Benny KOL HAKAVOD on being original and being willing to take a risk and do something extra creative!

9

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:15 PM Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov Says:

Reply to #2  
brooklyn mom Says:

meshigah! all that equipment detroyed--if anything was electrical like the guitars --that was extremely dangerous. I would expect this from goyishe groups who routinely smash their guitars, but I didn't expect this from Benny.

If you'd read the article, they said that the musical instruments were non-working or nearly useless items bought at a garage sale. The instruments were purchased specifically to be used for the video.

10

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:25 PM The_Truth Says:

Its so goyish - I love it!
(Except the parts underwater where they have their eyes tightly closed - doesnt look too fun then.)
I cant wait to hear the rest of the Album - Yesh Mikvah!

11

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
brooklyn mom Says:

meshigah! all that equipment detroyed--if anything was electrical like the guitars --that was extremely dangerous. I would expect this from goyishe groups who routinely smash their guitars, but I didn't expect this from Benny.

It is incredible how uneducated yet condescending commenters like you are.

If you bothered to read the entire article before rushing to criticize. you would know that no equipment was destroyed. and if you are under the impression that they actually played their electric instruments under water for the video, then you probably needed someone to read this article to you in the first place. perhaps you could explain to the rest of us what possible "extremely dangerous" condition a non-working, unplugged instrument could present?

And having worked in the (non-Yiddish) music business for years, I would be shocked if you could name even two bands in the past thirty years who "routinely" smashed their guitars, or even one that has done so in the past twenty years (hint: you can't).

Brooklyn Mom, I hope your kids are getting a better education than you did.

12

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:36 PM YochidVrabim Says:

You know that they write in the article they were destroyed instruments on their way to the trash. why do people only see a headline and then write comments. read the whole article. this is not a crazy video, silly, yes ... if you don't think singing about holy things can have a happy lighthearted place in our world fine, but keep it to yourself maybe, no need to be so negative and mean on a public forum!

If we celebrated our creativity instead of shunning it maybe less kids were end up really going to a goyishe derech!

13

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
neezoogshoin Says:

I just don't get the cynicism I so often encounter when jewish creativity is on display. Are you jealous of the publicity, or just cannot "fargin" them?

Is it so hard to just be positive and say "wow, cute idea, I'm glad it worked out". Try it once, I guarantee you will feel better.

P.S. If you are truly concerned, I'm sure that they used a garbage fake guitar and other equipment.

P.S. - If YOU are truly concerned, you would have read the entire article before commenting.

14

 Jan 21, 2013 at 01:48 PM commonsense99 Says:

Carlebach and other great never needed to stoop this low, the music was awesome and sold itself

15

 Jan 21, 2013 at 02:28 PM YochidVrabim Says:

Reply to #14  
commonsense99 Says:

Carlebach and other great never needed to stoop this low, the music was awesome and sold itself

Yes, Carlebach was loved in the frum world when he was alive, I think all our current Jewish singers should be more like him. lol. How is there not an IQ test to post on this forum.

17

 Jan 21, 2013 at 03:23 PM neezoogshoin Says:

Reply to #15  
YochidVrabim Says:

Yes, Carlebach was loved in the frum world when he was alive, I think all our current Jewish singers should be more like him. lol. How is there not an IQ test to post on this forum.

I agree! The sheer ignorance, envy, and spite here is shameful.

18

 Jan 21, 2013 at 03:28 PM benny_fan Says:

It is a very entertaining, clever video! Love it!!!!!!! So new and fun!!!

19

 Jan 21, 2013 at 03:29 PM Anonanon Says:

Reply to #2  
brooklyn mom Says:

meshigah! all that equipment detroyed--if anything was electrical like the guitars --that was extremely dangerous. I would expect this from goyishe groups who routinely smash their guitars, but I didn't expect this from Benny.

Right, because you obviously read the article about the instruments not being in working order to begin with... Guess you come to the site to look at the pictures

20

 Jan 21, 2013 at 04:38 PM The_Truth Says:

Reply to #15  
YochidVrabim Says:

Yes, Carlebach was loved in the frum world when he was alive, I think all our current Jewish singers should be more like him. lol. How is there not an IQ test to post on this forum.

If you take the Comment number and minus the previous comment number - you'll get the IQ number!

22

 Jan 21, 2013 at 05:06 PM TannaKamma Says:

Reply to #14  
commonsense99 Says:

Carlebach and other great never needed to stoop this low, the music was awesome and sold itself

Exactly, how I miss the good old days when Benny's uncle Avremel & MBD didn't have to resort to such nonsense to promote themselves....

But, there is much more competition nowadays so one can understand the need to act out to be noticed!

23

 Jan 21, 2013 at 05:16 PM vunderbahr Says:

It's understandable that "celebrities" open themselves up to criticism by being in the public eye and creating things for the public.

However, the persistent negativity and cynicism that pervades this communities anonymous comments in nothing short of embarrassing. And incidentally, it stems from unhappiness and pessimism. Is that Kosher?

There is nothing even close to Treif in this video. (For Heaven sake, Benny is wearing a Yarmulka in the pool!! How many of the righteous commentators do?) It's just a little crazy. So? Why the "outrage"? Are you outraged that someone, or a group of people, are having fun? And you expect to be a Kiddush Hashem, to attract people to your bitter, miserable lifestyle? Is that Kosher?

Sheesh.

24

 Jan 22, 2013 at 12:11 AM ShmuelG Says:

Music - average, video - silly.

25

 Jan 22, 2013 at 12:42 AM Brooklynhocker Says:

Reply to #22  
TannaKamma Says:

Exactly, how I miss the good old days when Benny's uncle Avremel & MBD didn't have to resort to such nonsense to promote themselves....

But, there is much more competition nowadays so one can understand the need to act out to be noticed!

First macabeats and matisyahu, then yeshiva boys choir and eighth day. Even Shweky has a video. I don't see what the big deal is, Goyim have been making music videos since 1984 because it's been proven that the visual element helps boost sales.

26

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:42 AM Malka770 Says:

His singing is beautiful, the video was charming and "kosher" -- there's nothing in the Torah, as far as I know, that says we can't have a good time within proper Torah guidelines--ya' know, "ivdu es Hashem b'simcha!"

27

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