Raymond J. Schlogel

Underground Planet

Austin, Texas

Interview with Raymond J. Schlogel, Underground Planet - Austin, Texas:

Ray, tell us about Underground Planet and a bit about Ray. How did Underground Planet get started? What was your vision early on for Underground Planet?

Wow, couldn’t we start out with something easy like “Where ya from? “or “ What’s your favorite color ? “
About me, well … huh, I guess I’m balled and I like coffee … a lot.
As for the vision thing I guess it was just to do the kind of creative stuff that I like to do with multimedia and to be able work alongside likeminded people. For me it’s important that the people who come on board at this point don’t just know what to do, anyone can learn the technical stuff, but I wanted people who have passion and talent for production and they’re a lot harder to find.
As for me I have a background in graphics and design and though I did spend some time doing web design in a company that a bud and had I started, that alone board me to death. I had some production experience doing a couple of TV shows here in Austin but it wasn’t till I saw “ Evil Dead “ for the second time some years later that I decided to jump in with both feet and sunk my life savings into production equipment. I realized than that I wanted to focus primarily on video production. That movie was so bad and yet so good at the same time, but the main thing about it was it seemed “do-able” … is that a word?

Exactly what does Underground Planet do?

That’s one I had a hard time explaining even on my own website, and its still hard because I don’t want to paint myself or Underground Planet into a corner. First and foremost we do video production and with that produce videos that pretty much runs the gambit. We’ve worked on two films, done several commercials, a couple product demo thingy’s, some promotional material, and a bunch of music videos. Beyond that we’ve done quite a bit of graphic work, DVD authoring, cover work etc etc.

Is the Underground Planet of today different than when you started out? If so, how?

We’ve gotten a lot better! Well at least I hope so! Actually, when Underground Planet first started I had stumbled on the domain name, bought it, and made the logo. A friend of mine and I were looking at doing something with the domain when “dotcoms “were all the rage but nothing ever materialized. Basically it sat on the shelf until I got the desire to start a production company.

What do you thing is the next big change in the music business? How is technology affecting the industry?

Don’t know that I’m qualified for this one but to take a stab in the dark, I think the next big change is already happening and that’s artist taking control of their work and being able to deliver content directly to their audience. I mean look at Maria Schneider, won a Grammy for an album that was funded by fans and sold ONLY through the internet. That’s just f’n amazing! Don’t get me wrong, we all have to dance with the devil sometimes but it’s a scary thing. Bands and artist are continually screwed over by less than honorable record labels and ya got Clear Channel putting a complete chokehold on the industry. At least bands now have options. They can record their own music (AND VIDEOS ) and get their work out there to the masses where it belongs.

How does technology affect Underground Planet?

For us it’s everything. I can’t tell you how much time I spend every week just pouring over industry mags, websites, and message boards soaking up all that there is to learn and trying keep up with what’s now and what’s next. Coupled with that the fact that many of our clients have found us through the web, technology is our lifeline. From our cameras and equipment to our editing software, marketing and P.R. we’d be dead in the water without it.

What exactly does a producer do on an artist video?

Well in different circles it can mean different things. With us the Producer is kind of the “go to guy. “ The tasks change from job to job but could include scouting locations, organizing the staff and talent, scheduling shoot times, setting up equipment, paperwork. Basically a lot of their job is to find and help organize all the elements necessary for the Director to achieve his vision.

What are some of the obstacles you had to overcome to get UP off the ground? What are some of the obstacles you face today?

Are we off the ground yet? That’s too funny!
I guess the first thing was getting that first gig so that we could prove our chops. I mean, we knew a lot of people could talk a good game but we wanted to prove ourselves early on. It seemed clear to us that we weren’t going anywhere till we had something on tape to show the next potential client, whoever that may have been.
If only in that regard, we’ve come along way. With some of that fancy pants “technology” any potential client can check out quite a bit of our work 24/7 on the web to see if we might be a good fit. But it’s still a challenge to get our name out there. It’s one thing to have the equipment, the know-how, and dare I say talent, it’s another thing to get the rest of the world to know who you are and how to find you.

What are some of the “highs” of the business?

There are just so many. I mean, when your doing what you love to do it’s a lot easier to pick out the lows. I suppose first and foremost it’s the people I get the chance to meet and work with, they’ve been amazing. Winning the PCL award for “Best new music video “two years in a row boggles my mind but I swear I get the same feeling every time we have a premier. The first time I show a finished vid to a client is always cool. Sometimes it’s just watching the footage after a long day of shooting and seeing how great it looks and knowing we nailed it.

In video production, there seems to be a lot of different things at work at the same time. Would you share with us what those things are and how they must interact to make a great end product?

Ya know, I suppose there are many more things going on than even I’m aware at any given time but generally speaking it all goes so smooth that it doesn’t get too stressful. I’d like to think it will always be this way but I’m guessing that we’ve been lucky, by that I mean that we’ve gelled well with every client we’ve had and I think that goes a long way in creating something cool.

If I were an artist with a video in mind to go with a song of mine, what steps would I have to go through to get to the end product? In other words, I have the idea, and a bit of cash, now what do I do next? A range of dollars in a video, and why it varies?

Well step number one, call us … we’ll take care of the rest. It’s really about that easy. Often an artist doesn’t even have the concept yet, or at least they’d like to see what someone else might come up with. They’ll give us, send us, email us a song and just ask us to give it a listen and let em know what we think.
Budget plays a big factor, not just in the production but in the concept phase as well. If we have an idea of what the budget is right out of the gate, we know how “grand” of a video we can create.
As for pricing, there are a lot of things to consider. It’s funny cuz people will call or email us just asking “How much is a music video?” Which would be kind of like calling up a car dealership and asking “How much for a car?” Well, what’s your budget ? Some things to consider are: How many days of shooting? How many locations? What locations? How long is the song? Do we need talent (actors/actresses)? Travel? Special equipment? Props? Wardrobe? Do we need live sound? All that kind of stuff. Obviously it’s a lot easier and less expensive to do a one location performance piece than if you want a coliseum of extras being eaten by aliens.

Who are some of the artist you have worked with, and music videos you have worked on?

Guess you already know we’ve done two for Brandon Jenkins. One for Austin, which was a lot of fun to work on. We had guest appearances in that one by everyone from The Red Dirt Rangers, to Omar ( from Omar and the Hollers ), Gordon Smith ( a local weather man which we got to shoot at Fox news ), Leslie ( Austin’s most famous cross dresser ), Doug Moreland, Marc Katz, and a slew of others. And than for Brandon we also did “ Down In Flames “ which Stoney LaRue showed up for. We got to blow stuff up and set stuff on fire for that one, always fun. As far as national artist we did one little live piece for Patrice Pike and The Blackbox Rebellion, some might know her from Sister 7, originally Little Sister. Than we’ve done quite a few for some pretty amazing local talent, Megan Melara, great voice, simple vid but we were on the tightest budget we’ve ever had (basically none!). Trepanation, a great local hard rock band. And we’re currently working on a project with Michael Hale, an amazing drummer, who has 10 or more different projects going at the moment. It’s going to be like a 20 min overview of everything he’s got going. And lastly, were in mid-production on a music video for another local guy Hamm Considine.

Do you do videos bid on contract, or by the hour?

Everything we’ve done so far has been contract. I know a lot of production companies out there do it differently but I just can’t bring myself to do it that way. I mean, how do you charge hourly for something that’s as subjective as editing? And what do ya do if it’s not up to your standards but the client has already blown their wad? Just call it quits and give em something sub par? Or hold the vid hostage till they scrape together more money that they weren’t expecting to pay? I don’t mean to knock the industry or my peers; it’s just a system that, for me, doesn’t seem particularly ethical. I prefer to just figure out what the vid is gonna be and what it will take to get it done and once we agree on that, find a fair price that we all can live with.

What is the one common thing that presents itself as an obstacle in most video production? Is there an answer for this?

I suppose for the artist a lot of time its just money. As much as we strive to remain affordable it’s still not always the cheapest proposition in the world and for some it remains a bit out of reach. Along that vein, sometimes you have a great idea or concept for a vid but it would just cost more than the band/artist can afford to pull off so you have to scale back the concept to fit the budget but still keep it dynamic and cool.

Do you work with artist in any stage in their career? For instance, a beginner to the experienced musical talent?

While we hope that it won’t be long till were working with larger clients and doing bigger things, it’s our goal to always have a place for the local and lesser known folks. I never want to be the kind of company guy that won’t work with a band because they don’t have 100K to drop like most of the MTV artist do. As it says on our website: Simply put, if we like the idea we'll do it. It's that simple. As long as I can do what I love to do and still be able to afford a pack of smokes and a cup of coffee I’ll be happy.

What other things does Underground Planet produce? (Think I already answered that one)

What or who has been the most fun working with or on?

Another loaded question! While I’m sure it will sound just way to P.C., I’ve dug all of them. They all had their challenges and little victories and as of yet I don’t really have a favorite. I look at all of em and am pretty proud of what we’ve been able to pull off on sometimes the most laughable budgets.

Updated news 3/05 "Wednesday night the Austin Music Network had their annual music awards ceremony and not only was Brandon's nominated but another we had done for Ryan DeSiato was as well. We ended up wining second place with Ryan's video and then we won first place for Brandon's ! We beat out about 23 other bands and took the two top awards for two different videos for two different artists ! Can ya ask for more ? "

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