After high school, Jason Letkiewicz pursued music with the Marysville, Michigan punk-pop band Every Avenue, but planned, if it wasn’t panning out, to go to college. As it happens, the band started hitting it big at about the time the guitarist/vocalist got a scholarship to art school, enrolling four years ago in the first digital filmmaking-program class at Ringling College of Art and Design.
Now 26, Letkiewicz, who is among this spring’s nine graduates from that pioneering class, has pulled the music and film strands of his career together, directing a low-budget Every Avenue music video that premiered at No. 1 on MTV.com.
MTV Buzzworthy Blogger Jason Newman described the video as “a hilarious nod to Every Avenue’s prepubescent female fan base, as the band members become the kidnapping victims to an overly enthusiastic young lady. With the acumen and stealth of a professional hitman—make that hitgirl—the fan employs her Fisher-Price ‘My First Stalker’ kit to snatch each band member and hold him hostage. Pizza, poison arrows, and the band’s own CD are all used against them, culminating in a forced rock show in a very pink bedroom.”
Letkiewicz said by phone that the record label, Fearless, hadn’t asked for the video and that he made it on spec. He lassoed the band, just back from Australia, on one of their rare days off from touring, he explained. He was writer, director, editor, and color corrector, but cast and crew for the 18-hour, $500 shoot included about 50 people, including some of Letkiewicz’s fellow Ringling film-program students. “Film’s all about collaboration,” he said.
The song, “Mindset,” is about being obsessed with a girl, but Letkiewicz thought it would be fun to turn the premise around. He remembered from his official rocker days being surrounded by autograph-seeking 16-year-old girls who “absolutely love you” and thinking how weird that is because “you know nothing about me.” At the same time, for the band, “these are the people who are your lifeblood … keeping your career afloat.”
After he graduates, Letkiewicz says, he is going to New York, where he hopes he’ll be working on a pilot project for the Food Network. He’s in contact with a producer for whom he edited a documentary, and is writing a script based on a true event.
He still plays music, too, he says, but primarily for his fiancee. “Not doing it professionally has brought a lot of the fun back.”
—Alexander C. Kafka