Ween are one of my favourite bands so when I bought their 2003 album ‘Quebec’, it motivated me to seek them out online where I found their forum. Stickied at the top was a topic from Ween’s manager titled “Transdermal video – looking for ideas“. I immediately contacted him asking if I could pitch an idea. He said ‘unfortunately you’re a bit late, but feel free to send your idea and I’ll pass it along‘. So I pitched an idea by email to which he replied that the band were going on tour soon and had decided to shoot a live video for the song. I asked him if I did a video, could they use it and he said something like “maybe, but there’s no guarantees.”
So I was working for Disney at the time (I’m actually writing this post in 2010) and I asked my boss for a month off. I knew he would say no, because we were right in the middle of crunch time on a project (‘Return to Neverland’, as I recall). I told him that this was something I had to do and it could lead to bigger things for me. Knowing that I was fairly valuable in my position as an experienced, high-output FX animator, I told him that if I couldn’t get time off, I would have no choice but to resign. By the way, this was only about a year before I actually did resign from the studio, so I really had been prepared to walk away.
He granted me two weeks off, for which I was very grateful. Time off in crunch time is unheard of. But only 2 weeks?? I knew it’d be tough doing 3 minutes of animation in that time.
I told Ween’s manager that I was taking 2 weeks off work to do the video and I got to work on my story. A few days later, Gene Ween sent me a drunk email from a hotel room after a show one night. The first line went something like this: “Adam. I’m fucked up in Jersey City..” after which he outlined his personal meaning behind the lyrics of the song. Unfortunately my hard drive crashed a month later or so and I lost that email forever (I was devastated).
Gener’s meaning of the lyrics fit nicely with what I had planned so I ploughed on. Each day, using Flash and a bit of After Effects, I animated 2 lines of the song and even got a little bit ahead of my own schedule. At the end of the two weeks, I sent a preview of the video to them. I very quickly got an email back from Gene saying that he loved it and wanted to make it the official video. He ended the email with something like “my people will be in touch with your people“. I was absolutely elated.
Eventually, because it was to be the official video, they even paid me for it. The Transdermal video is now a bonus feature on their “Ween: Live in Chicago” DVD (which, incidentally, kicks arse).
So the following year I went to San Francisco to attend Flash Forward (Prowlies was a finalist in the film festival). While I was there, I dropped by the offices of MX Entertainment and met the people who filmed the tour and packaged the Ween DVD. Ole Lutjens told me that Ween’s record company had a live-action video director actually shooting a big expensive video for Transdermal Celebration.. something with naked chicks in blue liquid. After I had sent my animated video to Ween, they told the record company “we don’t want that video.. we have this cool animated one“. For me, that story was icing on the cake. I saw Ween play in Sydney in 2008 and met them backstage, but forgot to ask them whether or not that story is true, so it’s just hearsay for now.