Len’s first new music video in nine long years is for “It’s My Neighbourhood” (at top) off their upcoming album, It’s Easy If You Try. And if said video—complete with dramatic helicopter pans of the financial district and footage of people buying fruit in Chinatown—kind of looks like a three-minute-long tourism ad posing as a Toronto anthem, that’s because it kind of is: many of the clips in “It’s My Neighbourhood” are from B-roll footage compiled by Tourism Toronto for 2010’s G20 conference (bottom).
I figured all that out earlier today. What I thought until about an hour ago, though, was that Len had taken Tourism Toronto’s clips and used them without permission, which would have made for a wonderful little story were it actually true. Which of course it turned out not to be.
What happened: earlier today, Tourism Toronto’s VP of Communications, Andrew Weir, confirmed, in a tweet to me, that much of the footage in the music video was Tourism Toronto’s. (“Yup,” he wrote to me, “that’s ours.”) When I called him, because why not, he told me that Len didn’t have permission to use the footage, but that it was hard to get mad about it. “We did not, to my knowledge, provide it in this case,” he said, but ”I’m not terribly bothered by [it] either. Our mandate is to promote the city, and promote the destination.…anywhere we can see more Toronto out there, the better.”
So I called Marc Costanzo, who’s one half of Len with his sister Sharon, and who laughed when I admitted that I was calling him on a Tuesday night for a totally goofy reason but asked if we would mind telling me what happened. Costanzo directed the video for “It’s My Neighbourhood” himself, and, he quickly told me, he totally got permission for all that B-roll. “Not only did we get it cleared,” he said, “we picked it up from ‘em. We actually got the hard drive from them, so we made sure that we had the best version possible.” That’s what happens with broadcast-quality super-high-resolution multi-gigabyte-sized B-roll. Absent a super-fast connection to a super-fast server, you go and pick it up.
And that’s what Costanzo did, a long time ago. Turned out that the person at Tourism Toronto who Costanzo said he got permission from and picked the footage up from isn’t the person “who usually sends out B-roll,” and also happened to not be at her desk earlier in the day when I’d started asking questions, explained Andrew Weir when I emailed him back. Weir didn’t think anything of it this afternoon, but Len was on the level all along.
There was really no story, in other words. And that’s why you’re reading this here.