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Clown Zapping with Filmmaker Ari Fararooy

By Dustin Driver

The surreal disrupts, disturbs, and rearranges. And sometimes it zaps clowns with lasers from the ether, searing them into puffs of multicolored smoke—at least that’s how filmmaker Ari Fararooy shatters reality in his music video for Good Old War’s “Tell Me What You Want from Me.”

Fararooy and his partner in crime, Jason Blackman, were commissioned by the Nettwerk label to create the video for the Good Old War song. The pitch was, according to the duo, a completely random idea. “I’ve always liked to work an element of science fiction or surrealism into my work,” says Fararooy. “I like the idea of warping reality and creating something new that makes people think.” The idea resonated with the band, and within a few weeks the team was shooting the video in and around LA.

“Tell Me What You Want From Me” was shot over the course of three days in the Angeles National Forest, Venice Beach, and a house in the LA suburbs. Editing and special effects, however, took more than six weeks. Fararooy blended digital and practical effects to create the terrifying and unreal clown-consuming zaps.

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Click to watch the music video for “Tell Me What You Want from Me.”

The team worked with a classic effects artist formerly of Warner Brothers to build an elaborate “poof cannon,” which used compressed air to shoot puffs of colored powder. Fararooy spent eight hours shooting multicolored powder in front of a black screen to get color combinations that matched each clown in the video.

He brought it all together in Adobe After Effects CC, where he added the deadly rainbow laser and handled color processing. He also used Adobe Photoshop CC for some quick modifications. For instance, some of the children in the birthday party scene didn’t have enough fear in their eyes, says Fararooy. He used Photoshop’s Puppet Warp and Clone tools to put terror on their faces, and then he animated them in After Effects. “It’s subtle, but it makes a big difference to the overall feel of the video,” he says.

Despite his technical prowess, Fararooy is a relative newcomer to film production. He studied medicine and English in college and wasn’t lured into the world of motion pictures until he was given a budget camcorder as a gift when he was in his 20s. “I started making movies and hand-drawn animations with my friends,” he says. “I got hooked on it pretty quickly and learned how to edit on my own equipment,” he says.

Ari Fararooy on the set of
Actors and crew on the set of
Actors and crew on the set of

He then landed a gig with a production company, where he was introduced to After Effects. “I was amazed by how powerful and flexible After Effects is,” he says. “I started exploring the various effects and trying to incorporate them into my projects. It’s the best way to learn any new piece of software.”

Fararooy and Blackman are forming a production company, Glice Productions. As a team, they plan to tackle more music videos and take on commercial work. And although the video for “Tell Me What You Want from Me” has been a success, logging about 100,000 YouTube views since it was released in July, the team probably won’t use the same trick twice. “I take a unique approach to every project,” says Fararooy. “Every project inspires a new creative solution. And that’s key to everything we do.”

Learn about Ari Fararooy’s work on Instagram in “Reinventing the ‘Self’ in ‘Selfie.’”