In the spirit of giving, BYU’s Animation Department teamed up with The Killers for a Christmas music video to raise money for Project (RED).
Every year since 2006, The Killers have produced a new Christmas single to benefit Project (RED), a charity created by U2’s Bono to raise money for HIV and AIDS prevention in Africa.
In the past, The Killers have had Jared Hess, director of “Napoleon Dynamite,” direct one of their Christmas music videos because of Hess’ relationship with lead singer Brandon Flowers. Hess, however, was busy with other projects this year, so he recommended The Killers ask BYU’s Animation Department to produce the music video.
BYU Animation Program Director Kelly Loosli knew this was a project he wanted his students involved in early on despite the tight time frame — The Killers needed the music video turned around in just three weeks.
“I knew it was going to be high profile because it’s The Killers,” Loosli said. “This charity has a really high profile and does a lot of good work. It’s going to be seen by a lot of people. The students are going to need work in their portfolios.”
Loosli, along with Hess, came up with the idea behind the music video and pitched a literal interpretation of the song, which The Killers agreed to. During the process of filming, The Killers were performing concerts in Europe and Amsterdam while needing to approve different aspects of the music video being filmed in L.A. and put together in Provo.
“They were as dedicated as we were at turning this around quickly,” Loosli said.
Loosli with between 20-30 first-year and pre-major students — details were hard to keep track of since they were rushing to get everything done — filmed the single, “Christmas in L.A.,” with actor Owen Wilson being the center of the music video.
“(Owen Wilson) is exactly what you would think he would be,” Loosli said. “He is what you see in the movies.”
Wilson helped get actor Harry Dean Stanton, who is mentioned in The Killers’ single, involved; Stanton then aided in getting the bar they filmed in offered for free.
“We had the band behind us, so it opened a lot of doors,” Loosli said. “… I think, in part that it is for charity, everybody stepped up and left their egos at the door.”
The team only had three hours to film with Wilson, but most of the work was accomplished back in the studio at BYU, so much so that Loosli and some of his students had five straight all-nighters to complete the project on deadline.
“For the students it has been successful,” Loosli said. “Our real hope is that our efforts actually pay off. That will be the real proof that we’ve done well.”
The Killers Christmas single can be purchased on iTunes. All proceeds go to Project (Red).