Director Alan Ferguson

Director: Alan Ferguson

Below are quotes from Alan Ferguson, the director of the A Little Less Sixteen Candles video, about the project:

From Rolling Stone:

Director Alan Ferguson — who worked on Fall Out Boy’s last few videos, including the self-mocking clip for Infinity’s first single, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” — has seen Wentz’s volatility up close. “Pete is the nicest, most loyal, most giving dude in the world,” he says. “And he’s also got a dark side that really makes him charismatic.” For the final Cork Tree video, the mini-horror movie “A Little Less Sixteen Candles,, A Little More ‘Touch Me,’ ” Ferguson created a vampire character for Wentz based on his black moods. In the opening scene, Vampire Wentz jumps off a cliff to get away from the rest of the band.

From Sequential Tart:

One review at the time of this video’s release described the impact it would have by stating, “Consider this step one in a transformation of Fall Out Boy from a rock band into true matinee idols”, a prophecy which proved true — the band’s steadily-growing popularity bloomed suddenly into something even larger.

Often it’s the truly audacious, out-of-left-field music video which lingers longest in public memory and propels its performers furthest; Michael Jackson’s mini horror movie Thriller is the obvious example, but similar could be said of Guns n’ Roses’ wedding-and-a-funeral November Rain, the cheerleaders and ennui of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, or the gothed-out funeral ballet of My Chemical Romance’s Helena.

A handful of the Fall Out Boy videos directed by Alan could be argued as the band’s seminal MTV moment. There’s Dance, Dance, a love letter to eighties teen pop culture; the whirlwind tour through a tabloid version of the band’s imagined life in This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race, or Thnks fr th Mmrs’s monkey-themed love triangle. When you put Fall Out Boy and Alan Ferguson together, audacity pretty much seems to be the name of the game.

A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me’ is arguably the boldest in a bold line-up, however. Lasting twice as long as the song itself, the video tells the story of a gang of vampire hunters — Fall Out Boy — trying to protect a city overrun with rival undead gangs. One of the hunters, played by Pete, has been turned into a reluctant vampire by the most ruthless of the gangs, the Dandies.

Cameos from across the Fueled By Ramen line-up make appearances as vampires who tangle with the hunters, from bands such as The Academy Is …, Gym Class Heroes, and Panic! at the Disco, along with various members of Fall Out Boy’s management and road crew. The video feels like a glimpse into a fully realized schlock-horror world; no mean feat for six minutes of screen time.

“The first video I had done for Fall Out Boy was Dance, Dance,” Alan says, when asked about A Little Less Sixteen Candles. “And that one was heavily narrative. It had the story arc, and people responded to it really well. Fall Out Boy was doing really great, and that record blew up, and the previous record blew up … it was almost like it was their time.

“In talking about doing the next video, we all had a sense that we could take it a little further than we might usually be able to. There are moments in time when certain bands or certain acts get hot, and they can kind of do something a little different. I was kind of feeling that way about it. I was a little cocky — I guess we were all feeling a little cocky.

“When it came time to talk about the next video, one concern that the record label, the management and Pete all had was that when you listen to the song, it’s poppy and doesn’t have much edge to it. We wanted to put some edge on it.

“At that point, as when I did Dance, Dance, I immersed myself in Fall Out Boy’s world and looked at all the history and all the pictures and everything like that. What I do with any group is find out what they’re all about and what they like, what they’re attracted to and drawn to.

“One thing I noticed about Fall Out Boy was that they were attracted to things like the Nightmare Before Christmas. The symbol of Clandestine Industries — Pete’s clothing line — is a bat. I was talking to Fall Out Boy’s manager, Bob McLynn, about that bat fixation, and we started talking about how some of Pete’s favorite movies are vampire movies; The Lost Boys and some older vampire movies.

“I called Pete and we agreed, it’s gonna be vampires. I listened to the song and I was trying to make something to suit the song, and I came up with this idea about Pete having a relationship with a girl, and he was a teenaged vampire. He could never see her during the day, only at night — it was like a little romantic comedy, and it really related exactly to the lyrics of the song.

“I liked it a lot. It would’ve been really cute, but after I started to work with Pete a while, I said, ‘This is just too sappy and too cute. Let’s do some hard-ass vampires!’

“I remember exactly the position I was sitting on the couch. It was 2:30 in the morning. I was like, ‘We need to have gangs of vampires. Like the movie The Warriors. I took this concept of kids dividing themselves into cliques that’s so prevalent when you’re in high school, and people will do it their whole life.

“Then I went ‘Well, what kind of cliques would it be if there was this town full of vampires?’ That night I didn’t go to sleep until 9 o’clock. I was like, ‘All right, there’s got to be definitely some vampires from the hood, and there’s definitely got to be some vampires that are punk vampires, because Fall Out Boy’s linked with the punk-pop scene. Then I made that a little harder, and made it Sex Pistols-influenced punk.

“And then, early in the morning — I remember, the sun came up — the idea of the Dandies came. British vampires with a really strong fashion sense. I started to draw them, what a Dandy looked like. I went online and found all these pictures of the top hats and things like that. I remember the next day, I was so tired, but then that night I woke up and started to write the stuff.

“I called Pete and I said, ‘Pete, I’m really excited about this thing, and I’m going in this direction with it, like these gangs’, and he was like, ‘Cool, let’s go all the way with it.’

“I told them that I wanted to have them as vampire hunters, and he loved that, too. But if you look at The Lost Boys, those cool vampires were actually the evil vampires themselves. I wanted Fall Out Boy to be sympathetic, so with Pete being a vampire it’s more like Blade, where he’s a vampire but sworn against other vampires.

“There’s a lot of different tales like that throughout the vampire folklore. There’s one anime film called Vampire Hunter D, and that was a big influence. It’s about this guy who’s actually a vampire — he’s a half-human, half-vampire — and I love that film, visually.

“Pete’s got a dark side. Pete’s the most generous, beautiful guy in the world, but then he’s got this dark, moody side that sometimes he goes into. You just won’t see him for a little while. He’ll kind of retreat a little bit. When we were making Dance, Dance, I saw some of that.

 

“The overwhelming thing is he’s got that great presence, that charisma, but like every other great, charismatic, interesting personality — James Dean or Marlin Brando — they had that little Thing, y’know?

“I said, ‘Let’s play up on that Thing’. And that was a central theme in Sixteen Candles — I was trying to write a character for Pete that was based on his dark side, and the whole idea of the choices you make in life. He really opened himself up to me; I’d ask him questions and we would develop things together in terms of what’s in his character that I could put in that character.

“And the thing just expanded and expanded, and I wanted to get all these ideas in it! It was going to take longer than three minutes and thirty seconds to tell this story! I didn’t really tell that many people before I did it. My favorite moment I’ve ever had in a conversation with Sheira Rees-Davies, the director/producer at Anonymous Content, was when I said ‘Sheira, this thing’s gonna be six minutes long!’

“I didn’t even tell the label, really, but I knew this thing was going to be epic. Everybody asked, ‘How are you going to fit all that in?’ I’d answer, ‘I’ll fit it in, I’ll fit it in!’

“Patrick — the composer of the band, and the lead singer — he wrote an interlude section to open the song out and extend it. I had a section in it that was without music, too. So it just built to the point where we just went for it — and surprisingly, MTV played it! They actually played it!

“When I used to sit and watch music videos, the one that really stuck in my mind was Thriller. Michael Jackson was at that stage where he could do something like that, and people would just pay attention to it. I guess we were just cocky enough to believe that maybe if we made our video halfway interesting, people would play it and people would be interested. I didn’t know if it would happen, and we ran into some stuff, but ultimately they played it … and they played it a lot! It went to number one on TRL.”

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