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January 2, 2008

Beatle Mania

USC Alum Rock The Latest Video From Ringo Starr

By James Tella

“A year ago this time, I was literally directing furniture in commercials,” said Seth Dalton '06.
If anyone doubts whether the USC mafia is alive and well, they need look no further than a new video from music legend Ringo Starr. Entitled Liverpool 8 and co-directed by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and Seth Dalton ‘06 the nostalgic track, which was co-written and co-produced by Stewart, is from Starr’s upcoming album—also co-produced with Stewart—and features four USC production alums in key roles as well as 12 other Trojans in various crew positions. The video was a production of Stewart’s company, Weapons of Mass Entertainment (WME). 

“It’s funny, but I felt more stressed during my time at ’SC than I did working on this video,” said Production M.F.A. Paolo Borraccetti ’07, who along with Chase B. Kenney ’07, served as the video’s producers. Networking throughout the summer with everyone he worked with during his graduate days, Borraccetti was in constant contact with Dalton.

Liverpool 8 features four USC production alums in key roles as well as 12 other Trojans in various crew positions.

“We had one day to shoot, and through the entire day I kept thinking to myself, ‘I’m working with Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart,’” he added.

“You get this idea that you need to work as someone’s assistant when you leave school, but I had a skill set as a DP and an editor and that’s where I wanted to focus my energy,” said Dalton, who found himself working for Stewart after applying for a part-time editor position posted by the Eurythmics legend on the SCA Job Board. “A year ago this time, I was literally directing furniture in commercials.”

Since joining WME, Dalton has been very busy, editing everything from Stewart’s 2007 Concert DVD to commercials for Nokia’s content-sharing website MOSH. He and Stewart are currently developing a feature length documentary and WME has two other features slated over the next 18 months.

“This is such a unique opportunity,” said Borraccetti who produced Dalton’s thesis film.

“This is such a unique opportunity,” said Borraccetti.
“I brought Paolo on because we’ve worked well together in the the past. He was the ring leader in getting all USC folks,” said Dalton. “Even the casting director was recommended by someone we knew from school.”

Developing a few treatments based on Stewart’s basic concept of Starr paying homage to his hometown amidst a kaleidoscope of images and a child who plays the young Ringo, Dalton had two weeks of pre-production with his team before the Beatles drummer arrived for a mere six hours of shooting time.

With classic footage donated from Apple Records, the entire video was made entirely in WME’s fifth-floor office space, which was turned into a mystical warehouse lit by Matt Egan ’06. Shooting while all the other “cameras filmed all sorts of behind the scenes behind the scenes,” Dalton said he never felt “more confident as a director than I did on this set.”

Treated to a jam session in the green room featuring Starr and Stewart, Dalton also shared how Starr arrived completely unnoticed.
Dalton with co-director Dave Stewart (l) goes over the video's concept with Starr and a child who plays the young Ringo.

“He asked, ‘Who’s the man?’ and when I said I was co-directing with Dave he laughed and said, ‘Then you’re the man.’ Ringo Starr is waiting for me to tell him what to do,” Dalton recalled. “And he just called me the man.”

Both production grads credit their time at ’SC for giving them a “seamless transition from school to the real world,” and say that the video experience has accelerated their learning curve. Having Starr approve the first cut within a week after filming was “just incredible,” and the video is now set for release this month.

Although the two friends admit that the film world and music world have “totally different vibes,” both men look at their experience with Starr and Stewart as a chance of a lifetime.

“Dave makes people like me better,” said Dalton who continues to work for the music legend and hopes that “this will be a long-term partnership.”

Matt Egan ’06 (center) looks on during the video shoot.
“WME is a cutting edge company with a refreshing approach to tired old tinseltown,” says Dalton. “And we want to work with USC grads!”

And with Borraccetti returning to his home near Venice, Italy to spend a few weeks working on films, both agree that Liverpool 8 has changed their lives.

“It’s funny how working with Ringo Starr has somehow created even more excitement in our parents’ mind for what we do,” mused Borraccetti.