In December 0f 1990 I directed this music video for the band “Alice in Chains” while I was based in Los Angeles at Propaganda Films.
I had seen the band play one of their first shows in New York City the previous October at the legendary Cat Club, which is now defunct like so many other great clubs in New York. I was so inspired by the band at that show that I personally called Kris P. who was the music video commissioner at Columbia records and told her that I wanted to direct their next video.
A few months later I was in discussions with the band and the label about their forthcoming single “Man in the Box”. This song was written by the late Layne Staley and he was the one I was discussing the concept of the video with. After a very brief phone conversation with him while he was on tour, I received a “Fax” from Layne with 3 words scribbled on it. “A drippy dark barn”, “farm animals” and “a baby with eyes sewn shut”. With that for inspiration from the songwriter I wrote the treatment for the :Man in the Box” video and was awarded the gig by the band and the Columbia records. The budget was less than $50K, keep in mind this was several months before Nirvana changed the world of alternative music.
I found an old barn in the Santa Monica mountains, owned by a park ranger, just 45 minutes out of downtown Hollywood. I remember driving to the set the morning of the shoot and thinking to myself: ” I’m about to film a very cool rock band on a dirty farm with a bunch of cows and pigs!”. “What the fuck is wrong with me!”. Once the cameras started rolling those thoughts and feelings were history. We shot for 14 hours on black and white 16mm film which I later color corrected to sepia and also shot with my hand cranked Bolex, ( which I still own and use incidently), as second camera which I loaded with color film.
The video ended up breaking the band, was in the MTV Buzz bin and was nominated for an MTV Award in 1991 which we lost to that Aerosmith that had Alicia Silverstone in it.
This is definitely one of my favorite music videos that I directed. I remain very proud of it.
RIP Layne Staley.