Monday, 14 May 2012

Peter Pumpkinhead

One thing I really loved about being in the band was doing the videos. Not just being in them, but coming up with the concepts and story boards. I only did that for 4 or 5 of the videos, but it was so much fun and made me feel like I was contributing something meaningful, other than my famous hair flipping and being a foil to the bass-baritone of our lead singer. I think the guys in the band found video shoots tedious - which they sometimes were, what with the “hurry up and wait” thing that is all work in film and television.

But I loved the whole process. I was never shy about having my photo taken or being on camera (although I’ve always been iffy about tv, as it really does distort the way you look - or do I really look like that? Like a puffy and garish pantomime dame?). When the director said “Action”, I was ready to roll and have people look at ME ME ME ME ME!

So imagine my delight when I got to be FRONT and CENTRE in a video.

My narcissism grew 10 times that day.

It was 12 years ago, but I still remember a lot about shooting the Peter Pumpkinhead video. The song was featured (in a teeny tiny way) in the movie Dumb and Dumber, starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carey. So, it was a major, major coup to score Jeff Daniels for the video. And he was totally into it. He was a fan of the band and went out of his way to make it all work. This was fresh after he’d been in the big movie “Speed” with Keanu Reeves and fresh faced newcomer, Sandra Bullock. So Jeff Daniels was, well, kind of a big deal.

I would like to take this opportunity, right now, to apologize, publicly, to Jeff Daniels.

Another thing about that video was that I thought because it was my BIG SHINY MOMENT, that I should get my face, like, you know, waxed, so that all the blonde and shimmery gorilla fuzz on my upper lip and chin wouldn’t be so masculinely obvious on camera.

So I went and got a wax.

And proceeded to break out with about 100 huge white heads and half that number of red welts.

I did this two days before and they had not gone away by the first day of shooting.

The poor makeup artist had to slather on the makeup with a trowel to cover my offensive pustule ridden face. it was really, really hideous.

That is why I appear to keep my hair in front of my face during the band shots, and why during the “angel” sequences my face is so washed out by lights. The director was trying to blind the viewer from seeing my ravaged complexion. Wise man.

The most fun moment of shooting the video was when the whole band switched instruments. It’s about a 2 second blip in the whole video. I was playing bass.

The least fun was the outdoor night time shoot with Jeff Daniels and me. It was the coldest night of the year - in January. Literally -25 Celcius, with a windchill that took it below that. And the video’s stylist, bless her heart, thought it would be super fun to dress me in little more than cheese cloth.

Yes. The outfit I am wearing, up on a platform, in the wind, in the freezing January snow, - is made only of cheese cloth. There’s no name for that kind of cold. Everyone was very nice and said “Aww, poor Ellen” and I got to run into a warmish trailer between shots while the extras had to freeze off their extremely poorly paid asses.

Well, the shoot finished and I survived, rubble-faced, frozen and still Koo-Koo for Keanu. And the song and video did very well for us, so I consider my sacrifices to have been much worth it.

I still get my face waxed, but with fewer resulting pustules. I think.


  1. This is a great post! Ah, you had a sort of Keanu Moment, or a 2 Degrees of Keanu moment!

    p.s. That's ok, I hadn't washed my hair the day I got to meet Michael Keaton.

  2. Lisa Wells said:

    I absolutely LOVE the Crash Test Dummies version of this song!!! Postules and all. All around fabulous job Ellen. Hilarious blog too! (Angel Ellen drawing...LMAO!!!)

  3. Twelve years ago? Really? Ellen? Are you SURE?

  4. Megan Saunders14 May 2012 at 09:54

    El-poo, you're the best.

  5. Always loved the Dummies' version of Peter Pumpkinhead, great to know a little bit about what went into the making of the video.

    After hearing your version of the song, I had to go track down XTC's version & became a big fan of their work.

  6. I love the CTD Version of Peter Pumpkinhead too...and I think you have a beautiful voice as well.

    I have to say that I hated "Give Yourself A Hand" after the first listening...BUT...2 years after the Album release I gave it another chance and...surprisingly...I loved it.
    "A Little Something" of the best Songs ever written. Thanks for that.

    Greetings from Germany. (Please excuse my poor english)


  7. Great video, never seen it all the way thru- the uk never really got much of your stuff other than the albums.

    I saw ctd in london around 2001 but u weren't there due to a family thing so the stand in sang it. Wasn't the same and you guys have never been back since :(