Red Hot Chili Peppers
Warner Bros. Music
Director OMRI COHEN
Director of Photography MATTHIAS KOENIGSWIESER
THE CHARLIE STORY
In early April 2008, while on my way to a weekend of snowboarding at Mammoth, I received a phone call from a friend: “You’re not going to believe who is having a video contest . . . The deadline is 10 days away, think you can do it?” Unfortunately for my friends, there wasn’t going to be any snowboarding that weekend.
On that drive home I saw a vision more vivid than I had ever imagined. With absolutely no money, no crew, no cast and no time I set out to make an intimate gift for the band who provided the soundtrack to the better part of my life. The entire thing felt like a dream, it still does.
The first step was to find a Red VW van, which I bought with the last of the money my grandmother willed to my father when she died . . . I just didn’t tell him until it was parked in his driveway. Next, I needed to cast 4 kids that looked and acted like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a Native American, an elderly couple, Dani California, and long list of other characters I had in mind. I had one day to go before the “scheduled” shoot. No cast, no crew, no camera.
I cast and produced it all within 2 days. On April 10, we packed our 76′ VW with a full cast, a Jack Russel terrier, and a psychedelic toad and went roadtrippin’ to Mojave. With no time to scout, I went on pure instinct. I had no idea where I was heading, yet I could see it all so clearly. We ended up at an abandoned town called Kid City.
With a team of 4 kids who had never even P.A.’d and a D.P. who was willing to do anything to get me a shot I completed production in 3.5 days. This was the first and only project I have directed.
I cut Charlie in two days and delivered it to the RHCP at Coachella on the last day of judging. I had to crowd surf over 20,000 people to make it to the stage.
There are many unbelievable stories that happened along the way, miracles that we all witnessed together. Moments of unprovoked kindness by L.A.P.D, 18th st. gangsters, desert bikers, and random strangers that made it happen. The fact that we were able to pull it off is completely impossible. However, the reason is clear. The driving force behind this film was the love, the unified will, and the belief of a group of people who created an unstoppable circle of light. My intentions were made clear to everyone before we shot a single frame. “This is not about us winning a contest, this is not about me becoming a director. We are creating a gift here for someone we all love.” The idea behind CHARLIE became very clear to me. It was about finding that human connection, about reminding people of the freedom of childhood, the spirit of imagination, and the unity we can create even in a city like L.A.”.