We Gotta Get Out Of This Place is an animation written, directed and animated by Phip Murray. The story is a composite fantasy largely coloured by Phip’s own experience of growing up in the country town of Kyneton in northern Victoria in the early 90s. A young Goth no-hoper spends most of his evenings doing bongs with 3 mates, kicking back VBs and watching RAGE video clips into the early morning. Becoming tired of their hopeless recourse to stimulation, he walks outside and dreams of getting away from Kyneton. In his imagination, a hotted-up red Corolla drives down from the skies and parks in front of him.
He closes his eyes and finds himself driving along the desolate landscape in the car. A switch of his high-beams and suddenly he has entered the realm of a video clip. His 3 mates are his band members, and he is the rock star, pelting out a song in all the gaudy glory of the video clips he sees all the time on RAGE. His band cuts all the requisite moves and strikes the right poses, just as he feels wholly empowered centre-stage in his fantasy.
The song comes to a conclusion – but one by one the band members disappear in thunderous flashes of lightning. Left alone, he realizes what he must do: he levitates and floats skyward, sailing above the ruined farmhouses and burnt tree stumps. Ending in the fantasy realm rather than returning to any originating reality, he has achieved his dream to get out of that place.
Phip’s animation is superficially a video clip. More fundamentally, it is in the tradition of utopian Hollywood musicals, where the act of singing and performing grants someone the power and means to carry out actions and achieve results, While many video clips – particularly throughout the 80s – referenced classic Hollywood musicals in this way, Phip’s animation reverses this to create an animated musical posing as a video clip.
Script, direction, animation - Phip Murray
Music arrangement, performance, vocals & 5.1 mix - Philip Brophy
DESCORE - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
Phip secured Philip Brophy to provide a ‘score’ for this animation, based around producing a cover-version of a selected song. Phip’s choices of songs centred around her memory of songs she loved while being trapped in Kyneton. Oz rock anthems figured prominently in her memory, and three particularly stood out: the Angel’s “Will I Ever See Your Face Again” and their cover version of “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, and Dragon’s “Rain”. Eventually Phip decided to use Dragon’s “Rain” and proceeded to work on an animatic synching up action and plot sequencing to the original song.
When Phip started discussions with Philip, most of the action had been basically sequenced to Dragon’s version of “Rain”. She had also developed all the model sheets for her characters as well as key backgrounds. The Dragon song formed a centre piece in the animation, with about 2 minutes of action placed either side of the song and the young Goth’s performance of the song. Presented with the animation in this form, Philip suggested producing a cover version that morphed out of a musical introduction, and then extended the song’s epiphanic peak by replacing the original fade-out with a new series of escalation dramatic shifts.
While this solved basic structural issues to do with matching the 3 minute song to a 7 minute animation, Philip suggested versioning the Dragon song so as to reflect the melancholic tone of the story. This became the central guiding principle in the song’s arrangement, performance and production. It also connected to Phip’s original concept of reversing the rock video back toward the utopian realm of the Hollywood musical: Philip’s melancholic version of “Rain” proportionately drained it of its high soaring rock peaks to create a more flattened existential terrain for the hopes and dreams of the young Kyneton Goth.
Philip first worked on the compositional structure of this ‘song-score’. Having figured out the chord progressions of the Dragon song, he then looked at ways to harmonically create a lead up to the song, plus a series of chord changes to extend the climbing peak reached musically in the original song. From this approach, a ‘rain’ theme was written to reflect the tinkling rain animated throughout the clip. This forms a device that harmonically ‘grows’ and becomes form that morphs into the Dragon song’s verse. The intended effect is to have the audience not realize they are in the Dragon song until the words are being sung by the young Goth.
Having completed the writing, the arrangement was developed. Drums were performed and recorded by Philip to give the song a rock flavour, and a range of guitars and keyboards were overlaid. Sampled bass was also overlaid, as was a hysterically distorted and pitch-inflected LA-guitar-solo performed on sampler keyboard. This fake-guitar particularly sets the song within the delusional and desperately heroic visions of the young Goth searching for ways to escape the mundanity of Kyneton. It is the same guitar sound he hears when they are earlier watching a pyrotechnic rock god perform on TV in their bong den. In this sense, this version of “Rain” is constructed by how the young Goth ‘hears’ the song in his head: made of fragments of 80s super-rock production, yet toned with a downbeat near-depressing feel. Phip’s animation especially conveys this sense through the creation of her characters and their near-bleak settings.
Philip performed all vocals of the track, shifting the key of the original song so that he could reach the high parts which in the original version are far more competently and dramatically achieved by Dragon’s singer Marc Hunter. Lots of harmony-singing, double-tracking and phase-shifting help distract the listener from Philip’s decidedly poor vocal prowess.
Throughout the multi-tracking process, the production was also assembled in preparation for its Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Rather than push sounds around or effect sounds into other speakers, Philip chose to create a quadraphonic ‘harmonic space’ by placing discrete musical components into separate speakers, so that ‘chords’ and harmonies were spatially generated. This created a heady fractal space which suggests a sparkling pop terrain, while maintaining an overall sombre tone.