Fire on Sunset
The corner of Gardner and Sunset is a special corner. Actually, it looks pretty ordinary. But if you've seen a certain Spike Jonze video collection, you know the corner very well. This is where Jonze and Director of Photography Scott Henriksen shot the video for the song, "California" by the band Wax several years ago. The video is quick and simple. A man runs down a street and around a corner, head down, in slow motion, and completely ablaze. It's a compelling little slice of pop culture that has far outlived the band it was meant to promote.
Swapping tales over the rental counter at Rocket Video recently, we had an opportunity to chat with Henriksen about the shoot. Apparently, the process went something like this:
Cut hole in top of car to fit bulky high-speed camera. Sit girl in back seat. Douse man with flammable agent. Ignite. Roll camera. Douse flames. Did we get the shot? Let's do it again.
The runner was reportedly paid a thousand dollars every time they had to light him up. His total take for the day? A cool nine Grand.
While we don't encourage readers to reenact the video for the sake of friends and family back home (you're all much smarter than that, thank God,) the corner still looks much the same as it did back then. If you happen to find yourself at Toi on Sunset indulging in some post-club Pad Thai, take the thirty second walk around the corner to one of L.A.'s more obsure landmarks. And reflect about how fortunate you are to not be on fire.
Incidentally, you can see the video in its entirety on Henriksen's excellent reel. The file is in Quicktime and is quite large. It's the last item on the reel so scroll to near the end.