Creatives Behind Panic! At the Disco's "Dancing's Not a Crime" Video Talk working with Blackmagic Design

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

The latest music video from Panic! At The Disco titled “Dancing’s Not A Crime” was shot on the URSA Mini Pro and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K using Blackmagic RAW. The video, shot by music video veteran Brandon Dermer, has become one of the fastest watched videos in the world and supports the bands hugely popular “Pray for the Wicked” world tour. We talked to Director, DP and Colorist on the project. 

Brandon Dermer - Director

PH: Can you talk a little about this project and how you got involved?

Brandon Dermer: "Dancing's Not a Crime" is my third music video for Panic! At The Disco. Last year, Brendon (Urie, lead singer) reached out to me asking if I had ever worked with puppets before because he wanted to do a video where a puppet version of himself went through some of the milestones of being a successful musician and what that entails.

Luckily, in 2016 I directed a pilot for MTV that involved puppets and got to work with legendary puppeteers from Sesame Street. It was an incredible learning experience. Basically, Woj (DP Wojciech Kielar) and I made a shot list and then shared it with the puppet team and said, "Look, here's what we are thinking...but you guys have been doing this MUCH longer than us. Let us know what you think. Let’s collaborate," which they did and loved. Regarding getting involved with Panic! At The Disco and Brendon in general, in 2015 I did a music video for Dillon Francis called "Not Butter" which quickly became a Vimeo Staff Pick and played at SXSW 2016. Brendon, a friend, and collaborator of Dillon's saw the video and reached out.

PH: Beebo is obviously a big part of Panic!s brand. How did you conceptualize creating a video around him? 

Brandon Dermer: Brendon hit me up asking about puppetry, which led to a creative call with myself, Brendon and his manager Scott Nagelberg. We talked about the story we wanted to tell and who Beebo was. 

PH: What were some of the challenges shooting a music video with a puppet? 

Brandon Dermer: Luckily for me, I had the MTV pilot under my belt. So my team and I were well-versed in all the obstacles that come with filming puppets, which I think was music to Sean Johnson’s and Patrick Johnson’s (of Swazzle Inc. Puppets) ears, who worked on the Panic! projects. 

PH: How was the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K critical for less planned shots? 

Brandon Dermer: It's a quick, lightweight, easy way to grab an unexpected moment. Extremely handheld. You can jump a guard rail while holding it!

PH: How did it feel having the final result come together? 

Brandon Dermer: It was extremely rewarding. A huge part of making "Dancing's Not a Crime" come together was working very closely with Panic!'s touring team. His show is more than a concert, it's an EVENT with a lot of moving parts. My crew and I knew that first and foremost, this was their show. We didn't want to get in their way or ruin the experience for fans. So we worked closely with the well-oiled machine that is a Panic! event, and we were welcomed with open arms. Brendon's tour manager/bodyguard/everything, Zach Hall, had great ideas of how to infuse Beebo into spectacular moments of the show, for example, the behind the stage FIRE moment. That was all Zach. Also, Head of Production Anthony Marino helped us coordinate to get Beebo on the flying piano.

PH: What other projects are you excited to be working on? 

Brandon Dermer: You'll have to follow me to find out, @brandondermer on Instagram. 

PH: Where do you draw a lot of inspiration? 

Brandon Dermer: Being an observer. Always.


Wojciech Kielar - Director of Photography

PH: Can you talk a little about this project and how you got involved?

Wojciech Kielar: I previously shot a pilot episode with puppets for Brandon Dermer so he reached out again to collaborate on this project.

PH: What were some of the challenges shooting a music video with a puppet?

Wojciech Kielar: I think the biggest challenge is framing since you are always having to frame out the puppeteer’s head and arm. But we tried not to let this restrict us on the shoot. We would always find creative ways with the puppeteers to make the shot work. Sometimes they had to be in some really uncomfortable body positions and tight spaces, and for that I thank them!

PH: Why did you decide to shoot with Blackmagic RAW? 

Wojciech Kielar: This was a travel job, and most of the shots required handheld work, so we were looking for a lighter camera but we did not want to sacrifice image quality. Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and Pocket Cinema Camera 4K were perfect. Both weigh less than their counterparts, and with a 4.6K sensor, dynamic range and RAW capabilities, it was an easy choice.  

PH: How was the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K critical for less planned shots? 

Wojciech Kielar: We didn't have a full camera team on this video, so having the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K always available was clutch. Our Director Brandon (Dermer) and our AC Chuck Schwarzbeck would always have the camera near them. If anything interesting was happening while the URSA Mini Pro was in use, they would be able to pop-off the shot using the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

PH: What were some of the shots you were able to achieve because of the equipment?

Wojciech Kielar: Our shoot days were about eight hours long, and most of the shots were handheld. The relatively low weight of the cameras allowed me to be a bit more generous with the length of the takes and didn’t totally destroy my arm. The low light capabilities and high dynamic range came into play in the dark backstage areas as well as the bright concert lights.

PH: What were some of your favorite shots in the video? 

Wojciech Kielar: My favorite shots would have to be when the puppet interacts with the fans. It was a really wonderful experience.

PH: How did it feel having the final result come together? 

Wojciech Kielar: Like with any other project, it’s always great seeing your images edit together. Especially with a video like this where our editor has a lot more freedom as far as where he uses what shots. It’s always fun to see what they come up with.

PH: What other projects are you excited to be working on? 

Wojciech Kielar: I recently collaborated with Brandon and Ryan (McNeal, colorist) on a Dillon Francis music video for his new song “Change Your Mind.” It’s a very colorful music video with a lot of MōVI camera work.

PH: Where do you draw a lot of inspiration?

Wojciech Kielar: I tend to look through many design and photography books. Instagram has also become a huge source of inspiration...I follow numerous art and photo accounts. The app makes it so easy to save the images within the app and allows me to go back and view them whenever I need.


Ryan McNeal - Colorist

PH: Can you talk a little about this project and how you got involved?

Ryan McNeal: I’ve been coloring with Brandon (Dermer, director) and Wojciech (Kielar, DP) for a long time, so whenever we have the opportunity to work together I’m always on board.

PH: Beebo is obviously a big part of Panic!s brand. How did you conceptualize creating a video around him? 

Ryan McNeal: For color, I wanted to make sure that our looks connected to “Hey Look Ma I Made It,” which also features Beebo, so that Beebo’s world feels continuous. 

PH: What were some of your favorite shots in the video? 

Ryan McNeal: I love the shots where Brendon Urie (lead singer) is interacting with Beebo onstage. They’re so great because this was a live show, and he’s really taking the time to interact with this puppet during his set.  

PH: How did it feel having the final result come together? 

Ryan McNeal: I feel like the multiple camera sources came together really well. I never felt limited by any of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K footage; even in low-light run-and-gun scenarios, it performed admirably. In fact, I had another DP client who happened to see me working on it and asked, “Is this ARRI ALEXA Mini?” It’s a really exciting time that such a powerful camera as the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K can be available for any scale of project or level of filmmaker. 

PH: What other projects are you excited to be working on? 

Ryan McNeal: I colored a feature film called “Auggie” featuring Richard Kind that was recently picked up for theatrical distribution. I also just completed color on a Diplo video, also with Brandon and Wojciech. 

PH: Where do you draw a lot of inspiration? 

Ryan McNeal: The honest answer here is “everything,” but that’s boring and vague even if it’s the truth. Some go-tos for me are anything shot by Seamus McGarvey, Roger Deacons and Janusz Kaminski. Outside of film, I reference paintings. In particular, I love Andrew Wyeth, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. I have a background in classical oil painting, which is where my love for color originally began.

Watch the full video: 

Brandon Dermer

Dermer is perhaps best known for "What Would Diplo Do," a comedy television series starring James Van Der Beek as a fictionalized version of the real-life Grammy award-winning DJ, Diplo. Co-created, executive produced and directed by Dermer, the show sold to Spike Jonze and premiered on Viceland in 2017 to great acclaim, earning high praise from Variety, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The LA Times, Rolling Stone, IndieWire and more. Dermer met Diplo while directing his group Major Lazer’s music video “Scare Me” which became a Vimeo Staff Pick. His music videos span from Nekrogoblikon's "No One Survives," Dillon Francis' SXSW 2015 "Not Butter," Panic! At The Disco's VMA nominated "Victorious," and White Reaper's "Judy French" starring Alexandra Daddario. His innovative music videos have garnered millions of views, Vimeo Staff Picks, film festival awards, and press highlights by major publications including The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, AV Club, and Vulture. He has directed pilots, branded content, stand up specials, and one-offs for networks including MTV, Comedy Central, Showtime, Adult Swim among others. He currently has several shows in various stages of development.

Wojciech Kielar

Wojciech Kielar is a director of photography based out of Los Angeles, CA.  He is perhaps best known for his cinematography work on the television series WHAT WOULD DIPLO DO?  which premiered on VICELAND and now lives on HULU.  Kielar also led the camera department with 2 digital series for Verizon’s GO90 network NOW WE’RE TALKING and LIKE & SUBSCRIBE. He has made a mark in the music video space working with artists such as DIPLO, DILLON FRANCIS, BLINK-182, PANIC! AT THE DISCO and many more, receiving millions of views, numerous awards and press coverage. His branded content, promo, and commercial resume is extensively working with clients like MTV, P&G, FOX, GIANT, NISSAN and many more creating wonderful images that are both informative but also entertaining. 

Ryan McNeal - RKM Studios

Founder of boutique post-production studio RKM Studios, Ryan has provided Digital Intermediary services for over seven years.  Clients include London Alley, Viceland, Ayzenberg, The Woo, Concrete Media, Hazy Mills, Liquid Advertising, and more.  As an oil painter and traditional artist, Ryan applies a rich art background to his creative work as a colorist, offering more than just a technical eye in executing the vision of the director and DP.

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