By Sharon Hall / The Dahlonega Nugget
Not too big, not too old fashioned, but just right—that’s what director AJ Parker thought about Giggle Monkey Toys on the Dahlonega Public Square where he was looking for a place to shoot a Christmas video.
“We didn’t want a big box store. We wanted something warm, with a little big of a vintage look but not too much,” Parker said.
When he came across Giggle Monkey Toys in a Google search for toy stores in the North Georgia area, he decided it was just what he was looking for as the setting for a Christmas music video he is making for Created Ruin. The Christmas videos are a tradition for the group, Parker said.
Created Ruin in made up of five musicians, including local bassist Trygve Myers, and a guest vocalist. The group does mostly cover songs and can be seen on YouTube and playing private parties. They don’t do the club scene, said drummer Thomas Branch.
This year’s Christmas video is a departure from the groups usual cover songs, however. It is an original and it has a story line that goes along with it. Part of the story is what was shot at Giggle Monkey Toys. The music was recorded in the studio and has been incorporated into the film.
Many of the extras in the scene from the store are Dahlonega residents, among them, John Clower; who owns Giggle Monkey with his wife, Tammy.
Originally, Clower said, Parker had all the “talent” lined up. “About a week later he called and said their store-keeper fell through and asked if I would like to be in the video,” Clower said. “I was excited about it, but a little nervous, too. I’d never done anything like that. I told AJ I’d need a lot of direction.”
“Working with Giggle Monkey Toys and local law enforcement was a pleasure. Everyone was very welcoming and gracious in allowing us to film,” Parker said. “The local extras were a joy to work with as well and we can’t wait to get the video done and out for everyone to see and share.”
Eight-year-old Bennett Bahnsen had the leading role in the scene shot at Giggle Monkey Toys. Bennett played a little boy contemplating taking a toy without paying for it, all without speaking a line. The youngster has been in Parker’s videos before, but this was his first “real role” in a production, Parker said.
“Although this was his first leading role with us, Bennett’s ability to receive and process the coaching and direction I gave him on set made working with him an amazing experience. Because this video won’t have dialog, I really needed him to be able to share emotion on his face to help tell the story… and he did that very well,” Parker said.
Clower said he was impressed by the way the shoot went. “ It was interesting. They were very professional—he came in and told the crew where to setup lights and cameras. Very little had to be moved around, just a couple of shelves to make more room for the camera.”
What really amazed him, Clower said, was how Parker “handled all those people. There were a lot of kids, and they get bored, so I don’t know if they were really where they were supposed to be or not, but it didn’t seem to bother (Parker). Tammy and I were both excited to see how the process worked, and have all those people come to the store. We like to have fun, and the people who came were obviously having fun.”
The shoot was timed so that Giggle Monkey Toys would normally have been closed during that time anyway, and it worked out perfectly. “They came and set up at 8 a.m. and were done at noon, when we usually open on Wednesdays,” Clower said. “Some of the extras had things they wanted to buy, so we went right from filming to being a real store.”