Justin Davis (right) and Adam Penney are the driving force behind heavyweather.ca. — Photo by Justin Brake/Special to The Telegram
Neither of them knew a thing about making videos. So if anyone was listening in on the conversation when, late one night at a downtown bar, Justin Davis suggested to photographer friend Adam Penney that the pair collaborate on a project to document St. John’s musical talent and share it with the world — well, they might have attributed the thought to the influence of the spirits.
But within a month Davis, a 25-year-old native of Grand Falls-Windsor and former truck driver, and Penney, who had just returned to St. John’s after completing a diploma in photography at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., had their first video up on their new website, heavyweather.ca.
The idea to shoot low budget (and free to the musicians), long take music videos came from the “take-away videos” that other aspiring videographers were doing in most provinces across the country, says Davis. But the inspiration came from the depth of musical talent in St. John’s.
“It just basically started with the idea of capturing these moments, and the more we started thinking about it the deeper we got into it and began realizing how many connections are involved with that, and how nice it would be to support people and do different things,” he explains.
Having just returned home from college, Penney, 27, says he was considering moving to Toronto if nothing fulfilling materialized in St. John’s.
But after landing a job at Henry’s and delving into self-taught videography, he realized the two were onto something.
“There was no end goal,” he says, “just to shoot as many bands as we can and see what happens.”
The first video, featuring Davis’s roommate and fellow Grand Falls-Windsor native Joanna Barker, was shot at Harbourside Park with a borrowed camera and audio equipment. And, after testing various cameras and audio equipment, the two went halves on a high-definition camera and began shooting as much local talent and visiting musicians as possible, including Repartee, Danielle Bailey, Katie Baggs, Nick Ryan, Matthew Hornell, Sherman Downey and Matt Costa.
The steady stream and quality of their videos resulted in their website, in the first two months of its existence, garnering 35,000 unique hits and more than 140,000 total hits.
Their ethic, approach and output earned the pair a slate of diverse project offers, including a series of short episodes for the Food Security Network, an NDP commercial and an official music video for The Once.
They’re also up for a MusicNL award for Volunteer of the Year this Sunday evening at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
Now the heavyweather.ca duo is thinking big.
“I would love to have someone backing us so we could actually have a building and a business so we could do a lot of great things, like a radio station, record people’s albums, have live in-studio sessions, have live-feed broadcasts with high-quality video,” Davis says excitedly. “Having some people hired to help with editing or an online presence, like media or journalists to partner with us,” he continues.
“We’ve talked to a few people, but there’s nothing concrete yet. But I think soon enough, with what we’re doing — we’re still at that cusp. A lot of people have been talking about it and I think it’s just getting to a stage where it’s really going to take off.”
On Thursday they will host “A Night with Heavy Weather” at The Ship Pub, featuring new video screenings and performances by some of the site’s featured artists.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $12 in advance at Fred’s Records or $15 at the door.