Posts Tagged ‘No Substitute’


Monday, March 14th, 2011
Love's Secret Domain

Love's Secret Domain

This is a little deviation from the Loves serialization. Though the subject does relate.

The other night, I got roped into doing something I rarely ever endeavor. My son invited me to a “dive bar” to see him play. He had been working on creating a band to perform his music, and the never visited “hole in the wall” on a section of Ventura’s Main St, was to be ground zero for a shake down performance.

Josh Slavin is the stage name for Joshua Pu’u by the way. (People keep asking me.) I usually sort of just smirk. Hyperbole is everything.

His rather complex interpretation of music and performance was pretty much nailed in Seth Godin’s blog today. Bring me stuff that’s dead please. Josh is doing this. I was impressed when I finally figured it out.

It had been a busy week for Josh. One of our local papers, the VC reporter had done a little story on him. That sort of adds a  subtle layer of pressure. Especially when one spends all of their time writing, designing, and recording, pretty much alone. Guitar lessons, vocal lessons, plying the music scene in LA. Josh had delved into most of that on his own, in pursuit of interpreting something pretty much dead.

His new band shows a lot of promise. The complexity of their music and level of performance requires the refinement of a hundred dive bar performances, but that is how a craft is honed, one swing of the axe at a time. It never was lost on me that term: “axe men” for guitarists.

The process was related to me by my friend Samuel Shoemaker, who fronts a band with his brothers, called of course, The Shoemaker Brothers. (Those lyrics say everything.) Sam told me the story of them leaving home in Washington, and playing their way across the US and back, one performance at a time, each night ending with loading their gear back into their van and moving along. Zuri Star has related similar dues paying, and craft building performance campaign tales. It is just how becoming good works, in anything: one must undergo a trial by fire. The grand test is whether it ever matters of course. That is the risk. Life is lived  in a handful of moments. A career is like a fuse. Artists know this.

Here is a great NPR piece on Neil Diamond finding his music and voice.

At the end of the night, it was Josh alone in the corner of the bar. That said a lot. Because I know that for any performer, when all is said and done, it all comes back to being willing and able, to stand and deliver.

Artists are brave Mofos.

Here is the Music Video our group did for Josh and Love’s Secret Domain, for the song, “No Substitute”.

Here is a gallery of Art based branding imagery that I produced for LSD. I do a lot of this for a variety of clients and artists. It is a bit of work, but as in all creativity, when passion and inspiration rises, the hours shooting and interpreting in post seem to slip by un noticed, till at the end of the day, eyes a little gritty feeling, one swings open the door to the outside, and wow, another day in a life just passed. Glad that it mattered. Hope that is does for someone besides me.

The images were shot as we filmed the music video. The performers are Josh Slavin and Gabe Witmer.

Click on any of them to toggle through as a slide show.

No Substitute

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010


My sons are both adept musicians. Josh in fact, is especially gifted.  He rang me up one day and asked for some help,  possibly shooting a  music video. I tentatively agreed, but the short of it was Josh meant, umm…. in three days.

I had heard No Substitute before and was really impressed by the lyrics. I had not seen Josh perform more than a few times, as he is pretty much a songwriter-computer nerd-artist who happens to play a lot of instruments.  I penned a script, rang Rob Dafoe, we assembled a plan, and three days later, with a full crew of incredibly generous and talented people, we met for a night shoot in the Bodner Design Studio which is located in Ventura, California.

Gabe Witmer dead headed down from his home in SF to play the role of The Substitute, an analogy for all the things in the world which may seem real and vital, but are in fact mere facades. Gabe is an A list model and budding actor. He and I had been sort of chomping at the bit to work together. Josh’s project was first bite.

Josh Slavin: Performer, Songwriter

Josh Slavin: Performer, Songwriter

Josh absolutely rocked his performance. Though his real name is Joshua Pu’u his performance name and alter ego is Josh Slavin. He literally becomes another person while performing. If I was there as his Father I would have been shocked. But as his Director,   Co Producer and collaborator, I was pretty stoked at what I saw.

Dafoe was amazing as always. Donna Von Hoesslin styled, did wardrobe, and mixed our toxic cocktails (Analogous props). Robert Catalusci was his normal nine ball mix of happy creativity and passion as Art Director. We really had a great crew. Who you work with defines the quality of your life. So by 2:30 am as we wrapped, all of us though tired, were really looking forward to seeing the final video and were still in high spirits.

Though Josh is my son, I would never do a project and ask those busy and talented colleagues of mine to help for that reason. I did it because I believed in his vision. He met the bar for being a subject. In the course of the night, I actually realized that by the end of the video, I would need to apply myself a bit to match HIS bar. I like that.

We shot it on the Canon 5D Mark 2 and GoPro HD systems. Which once again proved themselves as the future of creative film making.

No Substitute

Imitate, limit-ate

Settle for less

Substitute, infiltrate

I’m not impressed

Now they say it’s the same

and only half the cost

But it’s just a bandage

Over your loss….

Don’t accept substitutes

Cause there’s no substitute for love

The truth has substance

But ain’t as easy as

Telling a lie

They say it’s the same

and only half the cost

But you know better

So remember….

Don’t accept substitutes

Cause there’s no substitute for love


Don’t accept substitutes

cause there’s no substitute

There’s no substitute for love

Don’t accept substitutes

cause there’s no substitute

There’s no substitute

For your love…

(Lead Guitar solo)

Don’t accept substitutes

Cause there’s no substitute for love

(Don’t accept substitutes)
Here is the video Full credits are at the very end after a few seconds of black screen by the way.

Here is a very cool “Making of” No Substitute Video done by our fabulously talented, Angela Izzo.

This was a lot of effort and work by a great group of people. We are all friends, so really enjoyed throwing down for Josh’s musical vision together. It was fun.

You can find Love’s Secret Domain on Myspace music Here. The new CD release, entitled “Pure-EP”,  in which No Substitute resides, is on I tunes.

Here are some publicity and production stills from the shoot. You can click on any of them, to toggle through as a slide show.


Monday, November 15th, 2010
Impossible Panoramic

Impossible Panoramic

I  know who I am. So I recognize those traits that resemble mine, in my colleagues and friends.

This creates a deep affinity with those people who I repeatedly refer to as Savants.

Check the definition below.

savant |saˈvänt; sə-|
a learned person, esp. a distinguished scientist. See also idiot savant .
ORIGIN early 18th cent.: French, literally ‘knowing (person),’ present participle (used as a noun) of savoir.

I was pleased and honored when one of those, a certain Sean Davey, showed up at my door in Ventura, California.

Sean is a Tasmanian born, Hawaii ensconsed photographer whose work has forever impressed me. He arrived on a long standing invitation, to visit and photograph the place I live, which many of us refer to as California’s Gold Coast.

Coincidentally, Scott Aichner, who I regard as the best water action sports shooter in the world, had recently moved  home to Ventura from Hawaii as well. And me being Hawaiian and living in Ventura, well, you get the picture: family reunion.

Then Brian Nevins rang. He would be in California at about the same time. Brian rocks. Pretty much all there is to say about him. His heart is bigger than yours or mine, and it shows in his phenomenal work.

So all of us sort of collided in Ventura California. Learned and talented and passionate and on fire.

What resulted is pretty cool. We re- fueled each other.

The world will suck you dry. Your friends and colleagues know how to reverse that.

Sierra Partridge

Sierra Partridge

Seth Godin has this to say about us.

I was always told by those “In the know”, that as an artist and a photographer,  you need to specialize in one thing.


Scott Aichner, Sean Davey, Brian Nevins and myself are better than that.

Aichner, Davey, Pu'u

Aichner, Davey, Pu'u


We think that YOU should see and experience what we do. All of it. A perfect example is below.

Prickett Films has produced an amazing piece on the Irons Family, which documents the Memorial paddle out on Kauai for Andy Irons. They take you someplace incredible. Go there. It is a complete and generous gift.

Because you matter.

So we shoot.

It is very obvious when one looks around, to see who is authentic and who a clone.

This video is a very cool little piece that Robb Havassey did in honor of Kelly Slater winning his tenth title. Check the first song in the video. It is No Substitute. Written and performed by my son Josh. Josh gets it. So does Robb. See how it works?

Savantism is contagious.

The following gallery is a teensy cross section of what I have shot lately. If I were in an Arts or Photography school I would get an F for basically not parking between the lines. But in the real world: you win. Come with us, check THIS out. You need to try it. Feel it. Taste it. Do it.

None of us is fond of those straight white things.

Windows of Perception

Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Nias Dawn

Nias Dawn

Perspective is a unique line item for all of us. Our own Point Of View (POV for short) is one that, being our own, may not seem particularly special to us. I find myself overlooking the fact that I can be rather unique. You may tend to do that as well.

As a photographer, writer, film maker, I am all about communicating a designated POV. I decide what perspective a subject ought to be examined from, in order to best embrace a particular viewer-audience.

This was one heckuva busy week. I shot a music video, BMX, a performance music video piece, K38 rescue work, did editorial fulfillment for lifestyle and some fashion publications. In each project, it was my choice of POV which made the work have appeal, or  “cachet” as I like to call it.

Here is a great clip, where the POV the film maker chose in communicating a mans job place, is a best case example. From music to narration to lens perspective, I was completely smitten by this.

Be you. It matters.

The gallery below is from this week. A short look at a thousand images and 6 hours of motion picture, most of it shot in the last 6 days. All work was filmed with the Canon 5DM2. Sound was captured using the  Beachtek DXA controller with Rode Shotgun and Audiotechica Propoint symphonic mics. One thing for sure, Canon not only makes my POV possible, they make it easy!

Click on any of the images to toggle through as a slide show.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.