New Video: “Water”

Because there just wasn’t enough going on at PAX already, we decided to make a video featuring ourselves, 68 last-minute volunteers, five geek superstars, and a bottle of water.

So maybe it’s not exactly OK Go!, but we’d like to see what they could pull off with an aggregate of about six hours to come up with an idea, plan it, recruit ~70 volunteers and shoot it. (In fact, let’s go ahead and throw that gauntlet down, because it would probably turn out awesome, and we’d all watch it.)

Special thanks to all the volunteers, the PAX Enforcers, Greg Benson of Mediocre Films who shot and edited this sucker, and to Molly Lewis, Kim Evey, Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Coulton, and MC Frontalot for playing along and being awesome.

Did you enjoy the music? Good! We enjoyed making it. So please listen to and/or have it FOR FREES! Just right-click and select “Save as” on the links below (or however it works on your system; you figure it out, you’re grown-ups)…

The Girl from Ipswich (elevator theme)

Passing Water (main song)

Triumph (triumphant Frontalot part)

Full boring timeline of how we did it is after the More.

Friday, September 3

~11:00 a.m.  As P&S and a few Enforcers prepared to transport their merch from the hotel to PAX, a comment is made that instead of the Enforcers carrying all of the boxes over, it would be much more fun to organize a bucket brigade to pass the boxes from one person to another for the entire 2 1/2 blocks between the hotel and Bandland (music merch area) at the Convention Center.

~11:01 a.m. P&S decide to make something similar happen as a video, with the help of the PAX Enforcers and whoever they can wrangle on Twitter. Initial plan is to shoot it on Saturday.

11:20 a.m. P&S run into Greg Benson in Bandland and describe the idea to him; he’s intrigued but has to run. He and Kim Evey have a busy day, but will let P&S know their timing a little later.

11:30-2:44 p.m. P&S meet and greet the fabulous PAX attendees, and generally forget about the video project.

2:45 p.m. Greg and Kim can do it! But they’ll only be around to do it that day. P&S move the production schedule up and schedule the shoot for 6 p.m.

2:48 p.m. P&S put the word out about the shoot.

2:49 p.m. P&S go back to meeting and greeting. Unsure of how many people will show up, their entire plan for the video at this point is: Paul (in Bandland) calls Storm (at the hotel) and asks him to bring him some specific object. Storm hands the object to the first person he finds outside his room, and it is transported all the way to Paul via a chain of many people. Still on the phone with Storm, Paul rejects the object, at which point the camera pans over to reveal Storm (how did he get there?!), who hands him an acceptable substitute. Fin! The entire thing is to be accomplished in one long take (that’s a “oner” to you film nerds.)

2:50 p.m. – 5:40 p.m. P&S continue to meet and greet, recruiting people all the while for the shoot. They also determine that the object will be a bottle of water; rope in MC Frontalot, Jonathan, and Wil; and secure the help of a cadre of Enforcers. P&S hatch a plan for the funny business that will occur in Bandland (Wil brings the water up the elevator; Jonathan snags it; Frontalot tackles Jonathan and brings it to Paul), and decide that there isn’t enough time to coordinate additional business that might happen on the street along the way.

5:30 p.m. – The guys count the number of paces between the hotel and Bandland and determines that it will require a minimum of 30 people to make the concept work. One long bucket brigade would require ~500 people.

5:45 p.m. – volunteers begin showing up in Bandland. Coincidentally, Molly Lewis also shows up and is immediately pressed into service.

5:46-6:09 p.m. – P&S and Greg lay out the shooting plan, and the Bandland shenanigans are fleshed out with Wil, Jonathan, and Frontalot. The PAX Enforcers are briefed about the proceedings.

6:10-6:20 p.m. 68 volunteers! They’re briefed on the mission, and with the help of the Enforcers are divided into four groups: 1) a group of 15 for the farther full block; 2) a group of 10 for the half block by the hotel 3) Everyone Else, who will compose the “bucket brigade” on the closest full block; 4) three extra people are selected to take part in the hotel itself. P&S decide that Molly will be the last person at the end of the chain, who will bring the water to Wil, standing at the elevator.

Each group will be lead by one or two Enforcers acting as “block captains”. Several other Enforcers will stay in Bandland to help with crowd control.

6:21-6:30 p.m. – bucket brigade volunteers walk out of the Convention Center and begin taking up position on the nearest full block, across the street. First and last water carriers are identified and are given instructions, such as to not get hit by any moving vehicles as they cross the street.

6:30-6:37 p.m. – group of 15 takes up position on the next full block. Ditto on instructions to the first and last water carriers. In the meantime, Wil, Jonathan and Frontalot plan and choreograph their “business” back in Bandland.

6:37-6:47 p.m. – group of 10 and hotel cadre take up positions.

6:45-6:57 p.m. – Storm, Greg, and one volunteer (the first to commit to the video, even before it was tweeted) work out a plan and run through the opening of the video. Light is fading fast. P&S talk to make sure everything is ready on both ends. It is.

6:58 p.m. –  The Twitter signal is sent! Greg follows the water bottle with the camera, and Storm walks directly behind Greg the entire time (yes, including in the elevators. hubba-hubba!)

7:09 p.m. – The water reaches Paul, completing the main shoot.

7:10-7:17 p.m. – Two short pickups of the Bandland shenanigans are filmed, due to unforeseen difficulties with innocent bystanders.

LATER…Greg completes editing on Wednesday, September 8, speeding the action up in spots to make it short enough that people will be willing to watch it all the way through. (The original unedited video is over 9 minutes long) P&S compose music to fit the completed video on September 9. Video is posted on Friday, September 10.

And that’s how a bill becomes a law.


  1. Piefightery Minion
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I gotta say it was fun to be a part of this (I was #2 of 15) and was only disappointed that I was saving the Paul & Storm Piefightery shirt to be worn on Saturday for the concert. Loved how it turned out and especially the touch of the music themes.

  2. Wayne D.
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I will accept this video as my birthday present, yes I will.

  3. Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    loved it, just the right mix of nerd and geek superstars (always a tenuos ratio)

  4. ajanata
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Everyone Else ftw! It was a lot of fun, even if most of the time was just waiting around in a “line.” 🙂 A lot of people were asking what the “line” was for, and it wasn’t even a very good line if it had been a line (~5 feet between us).

    “It’s not a line, it’s a bucket brigade” is the name of my PAX cover convention.

  5. Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    This was incredibly fun to do, and makes me realize that THIS stuff is the reason I come to PAX. I’m actually surprised the turnout was so LOW considering @WilW retweeted the call for volunteers. Was it up against a really good panel or something?

  6. Posted September 13, 2010 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    The music’s just fantastic. “Passing Water” makes me want to buy a car.

  7. Posted September 13, 2010 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    Hi. I was the lucky guy that Storm handed the water to.

    For the time frame of 5:46-6:09 p.m., I do have some video of the speach of the shooting plan:

    I also snaped some pictures as the water was passed to the convention center. They can be found here:

    -Heath (Stout-hearted Mensches)

  8. Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    As one of the enforcers who helped move your merch from the Red Lion (and who later was the one walking in front of the camera) I have to say that it was a blast to be a part of this video and I love how it came out!

    Thanks for letting me a small part of it and you’ll be seeing me hanging about next Prime. ‘Cause if we can get up to those kinds of shenanigans with that little planning imagine what we can come up with next year! 🙂

    Hope to see you guys up in Seattle again soon.

  9. PonderousMan
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Simply brilliant…!

    You guys always come up with the neatest geekery, and I think sometimes it’s even better when you have to put it together on short notice!

  10. Jessica
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    I’m the girl who gets to pass the water bottle back and forth at the crosswalk! We were so glad that the light was red. XD

  11. Penndragyn
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I was #67 in the Video. Yay, everyone else! When we were waiting in line passing people would ask us what the line was for. Being, well, us, we couldn’t just give a strait answer, now could we?

    These were my favourite answers:

    “What’s the line for?” says roughly five hundred people

    “What line?”

    “I Don’t know!” *Sobs*


    “We’re the line appreciation society.”

    And my personal favourite, courtesy of #65,

    “This is the line for the 2011 keynote.”

  12. tabacco
    Posted September 16, 2010 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    And I was the guy passing the bottle of water back and forth at the crosswalk. It was nice to meet you, Jessica 🙂

  13. Christine
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    What are the chords for “Passing Water”? I’d love to learn it 🙂

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