Guster, Sarkin get big iTunes nod

September 6, 2010

Gloucester Guster video gets big iTunes nod

By Joann Mackenzie

“I don’t like it,” said the president of Universal Music.

He was talking to Dalton Sim, manager of Massachusetts indie pop band Guster about the final edit of their new music video, “Do You Love Me?”

“Dalton was devastated,” says Chad Carlberg, head of Gloucester’s Production Blue Co., who’d directed and produced the video. “But then, the guy says, ‘I don’t like it — I love it!'”

So, apparently, does Apple iTunes, which has selected Carlberg’s “Do You Love Me?” video, the lead track on Guster’s new album “Easy Wonderful,” as the coveted iTune video of the week, launching Sept. 13. The video’s included post-production work in Gloucester’s former Birdseye building after being filmed in part at Gordon College in Wenham.

“This is huge,” says Guster drummer Brian Rosenworcel, “the biggest news that’s ever happened in our band’s history.

“Of the thousands of videos submitted each year, only 52 get selected for iTune of the week, and they’re not giving them up to indie bands like us,” he noted.

Apple isn’t giving them up to first-time music video directors, either. In fact, the chance of a first time music video director nabbing iTune video of week are apparently off the charts, Carlberg said. Yet Carlberg, who, as head of Production Blue’s parent company, Gloucester ad agency Bait & Tackle, has directed and produced over 1,200 commercials, pulled it off.

It all started with a phone call, from Rosenworcel to Carlberg, asking for a recommendation on the cover art. Carlberg recommended his old friend and Gloucester artist extraordinaire, Jon Sarkin. After that, Carlberg’s continued involvement was strictly unsolicited.

Pitching pro-actively against high-profile directors short-listed from New York and Los Angeles for the big-budget production, the Gloucester filmmaker wowed Kim Garner, Universal Music’s senior vice president for music videos, with a concept that extended Sarkin’s involvement from cover art to playing an integral part of the video.

“Winning the project was huge in itself,” says Carlberg, “but this, to be selected Apple iTune video of the week?”

The iTunes brand accounts for 70 percent of worldwide online digital music sales, making the service the largest legal music retailer. It’s a big leap for local filmmaker Carlberg — and, he’s quick to add, it’s been a Gloucester collaboration all the way.

“Sarkin is Gloucester,” says Carlberg, “my companies have always been Gloucester, my team (co-director Sten Bowen and editor Emile Doucette) is Gloucester, post-production was out of the Birdseye Building.”

The video itself was shot locally, too, at Gordon College, and the cast, including Gordon students, was locally recruited. The concept, which involved Sarkin using the video as a live-action canvas, was tricky on a few fronts.

Most important, says Carlberg, was ensuring that Sarkin’s art, “which is always blow-away,” he said, would support the band and the music.

“Jon’s art could have overwhelmed them, so that was always a concern, to make sure that the art would be ‘scaffolding’ supporting Guster’s physical presence and music,” Carlberg added. “We knew that was something top management at Universal Music was going to be very sensitive to, so we really worked to strike the right balance there.”

In addition to the Apple iTunes coup, the video is expected to be shown on the websites of both Vanity Fair magazine and Entertainment Weekly to augment anticipated coverage both in Entertainment Weekly and in Vanity Fair’s October issue. The video is also scheduled for a Nov. 19 airing in a Discovery Network program about Sarkin and his art.

Future plans, although still in talking phase, definitely include more video collaboration between Sarkin, Carlberg, and the Production Blue film making team.

Buoyed by their major league coup, the small-town team is thinking big.

According to Carlberg, Sarkin now has his sights set on a video — featuring none other than fellow eccentric artist, Lady Gaga.

Joann Mackenzie can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3447, or

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