L-R: Matthew Martinez, Jake Rawls, Brian Gibbs and Larry Fenix, a.k.a.Kemo For EmoPhoto by Skylar Fenix, courtesy of Kemo For Emo
“To make something of this scale starting with only a single camera and a script was overwhelming. So starting two years ago and finally publishing the final video was invigorating.”
That’s Larry Fenix discussing the work he, his band Kemo For Emo and a group of dedicated actors and local music stars put into a short film for the band’s 2016 album, A Picture Perfect Romance. Presented in installments, the fourth and final segment of the series debuted last week, two years to the date of the album’s release date.
The veteran pop punk act is working on new music and plans to release an album in 2018; but, before it moves onto its next chapter, the Houston Press asked Fenix to look back at the film. He had a hand in every aspect of the film, from writing, directing and casting it to everything in between. At its heart, it’s a romance, the star-crossed story of John and Camille, whose fates are thrown into peril by loss and the dark forces of addiction. The story’s four parts were told by way of four tracks from the album, “The Cause,” “The Straightline,” “No Tell,” and “Hold My Hand.” They're presented here together and sequentially with Fenix's notes. Consider it our version of the director's cut.
"Finishing the video series gives me a sense of accomplishment and allows us to fully move on to the next era of our creative process. A Picture Perfect Romance always had a darker, more tainted feel to it and for anyone who knows us, that's not who we are as a band in real life," Fenix noted. "This album was necessary. It was therapeutic and allowed us to exorcise the demons we needed to in order to move on musically. This entire video series was completely D.I.Y. It was a true labor of love and took more out of me than I ever thought possible. From writing, directing, casting, editing, color grading and everything else involved, this truly was the best kind of creative experience I have ever had."
"Brandon Walsh joined in on videos three and four to help with the behind the camera work and we have teamed up on quite a few projects since we started. We push each other creatively and in the end we always make something we are proud of. Nick Terrell (Red Beard Productions) came on as my A.D. and I could not have even started this project without him," Fenix said.
"Kessler Micksch George II, who plays John, and Jules Hurd, who plays Camille, really helped with the entire journey of storytelling," he continues. "They both brought the characters to life and really showed relentless dedication and raw talent. I was able to write and adjust moments in the film to pull more out of their personalities because they just lit up on screen. Ian Monroe and Evan King both brought their sensational acting abilities to the pivotal characters they played. My kids, my father and his fiancée Loretta, and my close friends Kevin Dee and Beau Hall all played key roles in the videos. I was able to feature so many Houston artists in this series - Walker Glenn, Jacqi Kill, Kyle Hubbard, Barty Beodo, Ian Monroe, Jeff Reno, Blake Rizzo, Justin Liles, Mike Terror, Ryan Kelly, Freddie Boatright and so many more. It was a true Houston release."
"My favorite thing about film making is taking an idea from my head and seeing it come to life through a lens. To have almost 40 minutes of video, all D.I.Y., all with the same actors over a two-year period really makes me feel that we clearly defined this era of creativity for Kemo For Emo and it's out in the world for all time. A complete vision. There's nothing more enjoyable to me. To see a narrative reflect the music we make and represent it completely is a true blessing. I don't think anyone has attempted something like this in our music community, and possibly in this genre. It's a marker in our legacy that I am very proud of. I hope the videos make it to a very wide audience because the message is so strong. It touches on topics that are more than familiar to everyone and truly shows all sides to how the human heart works.
"I could not be more proud of the music I make with my best friends in the world," Fenix concluded. "This is our 15th year doing this and we are just getting started."
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.