Tag Archives: Aaron Gum

Back to the 1980s

February 14, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Aaron Gum can tell you several movies he loves, but ask about the one—the film that he most associates with his childhood—and his eyes sparkle. The clock tower…the electricity…the burn marks from the tires of Doc Brown’s DeLorean as it travels Back to the Future.

“Nothing really sums up a decade, as far as pop culture goes, as much as a DeLorean,” says the freelance producer of commercials, music videos, and other media around Omaha.

As a kid growing up in the 1980s, Gum always wanted a DeLorean, but he never expected to fulfill the dream. The DeLorean DMC-12—the only car ever produced by the DeLorean Motor Co.—had a limited production period between 1981 and 1983. Around 10,000 vehicles were made, and less than 7,000 are still in existence.

While perusing social media in April, a photo of the vehicle on a flatbed in a Facebook post by a friend of a friend changed his mind. The car was headed for Woodhouse Auto, which had taken it on trade for an Alpha Romeo.

Gum, also the synthesist for the local new-wave synth duo Glow in the Dark, originally wanted to borrow the vehicle for a photo shoot. As soon as he saw the DeLorean on social media, he called the marketing director at Woodhouse Auto Group, with whom he worked on commercials, and asked about it. The vehicle, at that time, was not running and he was not able to use the car.

Two months later, Gum visited Woodhouse to shoot commercials and asked about the vehicle. Yes, it was still there, and yes, it was now running. Gum bought the vehicle for around $30,000. It was a whim for the normally frugal Gum, whose high-ticket purchases tend to be more career-focused, such as film cameras or synthesizer equipment.

The vehicle has become his promo car for the band, taking him to gigs around the city.

Gum goes overboard in his devotion to hobbies, and he soon began making the futuristic-looking car even more 1980s in style. The fuse was out on the lights, so he replaced the lighting with LEDs. He acquired such movie props as a flux capacitor, hoverboard, a Mr. Fusion home energy reactor, Marty McFly jacket, and a 1/6 scale DeLorean time machine.

Gum isn’t a “car guy,” but the car—and what it symbolizes—has captured his heart. In July his friend Scott called and told him to get down to Quaker Steak & Lube in Council Bluffs. A second DeLorean, one Gum knew nothing about, was participating at the Wheels of Courage auto show taking place at the restaurant’s lot. Gum quickly drove over to check out his vehicle’s twin, parking outside the show’s perimeter near the other DeLorean.

“It was kind of crazy,” Gum says. “I had no idea there was another one in the area, but there it was, right over in Council Bluffs.”

Gum’s is a 1981, the other was a 1983, so the two men compared parts. The 1983 was more authentic to the one in the movie, having no aesthetic grooves or fuel door stamped into
the hood.

But the thing about owning a DeLorean that makes Gum smile most is his encounters with movie fans.

“This kid came up wanting to sit in it,” Gum says. “Afterwards his father said, ‘you made his day,’ and I thought that was pretty cool.”

“You know,” he says, “you see a classic Lambo or something, it’s really cool, but you don’t just go sit down in it. People do that all the time with this car. They sit down and then go, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I should have asked. But I was so excited to see it!’ ”

They are fellow movie buffs, fellow obsessors over Marty McFly and his travels back to see his parents as teenagers. The affable Gum doesn’t mind (although it would be nice if people asked before plopping themselves down).

The DeLorean appeared as a featured vehicle in January’s Midlands International Auto Show alongside brand-new, high-end vehicles such as Corvettes and Lamborghinis. It was another chance for local fans of Back to the Future to interact with, and dream about owning, the iconic vehicle.

As for Gum’s DeLorean, it is a frequent prop in Glow in the Dark’s photo shoots and was used onstage at an August concert at OutrSpaces. Gum jokingly asked about bringing the car onstage and—to his surprise—was told, “You know, if you drive it around the back, you can probably get it in the door.” He did, and the car was positioned between Gum and bandmate Lawrence Deal during
the concert.

Since then, he hasn’t worked on making the car more movie-authentic because he’s been working on restoring another piece of movie-themed nostalgia, a Back to the Future pinball machine that was manufactured for only four months in the summer of 1990.

“How many people get to have a pinball machine with their car in it?” Gum says.

Visit @glowglowdarkdark on Facebook for more information about the band, including images of the DeLorean.

This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Digital Daredevils

June 15, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The masterminds behind Omaha band Glow in the Dark—Lawrence Deal and Aaron Gum—have always had an affinity towards musical instruments and toys. Since they were young, Deal and Gum surrounded themselves with a variety of ways to create sound, which consequently led to their obsession with electronic music. While the passion for it was easier to harness, coming up with a proper band name took more of an effort.

“It was really difficult to settle on something because it is important to have a name that really captures what you’re going for,” Deal explains. “I think Glow in the Dark does a great job of that because it has some elements of nostalgia, but also has some duality between light and dark. That sort of captures our musical style.”

“A band name becomes part [of] your identity,” Gum adds. “It can inform artistic choices beyond the music.”

Gum and Deal loved the contrast of something lighting up and coming alive in the dark. Gum, in particular, was drawn to glowing monster models/kits from the 1960s, and the name tied into some of the electronic instruments they use to create their music. From the sea of blinking LED lights on the modular synthesizers to the LCD screens of their vintage drum machines, light plays a starring role in what they do.

“It’s synth-based, so it’s definitely an electronic act,” Deal says. “However, it’s not just your typical ‘press play’ DJ act. Aaron plays all of the parts organically, and we use drum machines in the same manner.”

“It’s easy for some people to write off synth-based music as ’80s or modern electronic music as whatever latest sub-genre is popular at the moment,” Gum adds. “It’s OK to draw inspiration from your influences, but important to develop your own style.”

With its heavy synth sound and explosive melodies, Glow in the Dark earned an opening slot for famed ‘80s actor Corey Feldman’s group, Corey Feldman and The Angels, at Maloney’s Irish Pub, which drew a huge crowd due to Feldman’s bizarre behavior during a performance on the Today show in September 2016. The gig was the catalyst for getting their live show together, which they admit wasn’t exactly figured out yet. Up until this point, they had only been a studio act.

“We had barely talked about how we would go about performing any of [the music] live until news broke that Corey Feldman would soon be coming to town,” Gum explains. “Suddenly it was a real thing. This project that we had been slowly chipping away at in between our other projects had its first real live show, and we had two months to figure out how to transition a studio project into a live show. We discussed bringing in some friends to play parts, or even add parts, but eventually we kept it simple with just the two of us.”

Despite several hiccups, including Feldman running three hours late, their inability to set up their equipment ahead of time and countless last-minute changes, they managed to pull off the set, which Gum believes is a testament to the importance of being able to improvise and adapt to the situation as it develops.

“The crowd seemed to enjoy us,” Gum says. “It wasn’t your typical Omaha show crowd. A lot of these people are at this show only to see Corey, so that’s cool to be able to entertain them.”

Although Glow in the Dark is in its infant stages, it’s quickly gaining its footing due to Gum and Deal’s extensive experience in the musical realm. Despite the industry’s competitive nature, they’re clearly up for the challenge.

“We have both played music for most of our lives and probably wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we didn’t,” Deal says. “We don’t really concern ourselves with how oversaturated it can be, we just focus on making the best music that we can for ourselves.”

For now, Glow in the Dark is putting the final touches on its seminal full-length album and sending its latest video, “Digital Lust,” into the web stratosphere, so there will be more from the duo in the near future.

“For me, this is probably the project that I have been the most proud of to date,” Deal says. “It’s a group where I feel that I can really express myself, and we don’t put a lot of rules or limitations on each other. That is very refreshing.

“Making music is very special to me,” he adds. “It has the ability to really touch people, and that is a powerful thing. Even if it doesn’t, expressing yourself with music is a very positive outlet. I think everyone needs that in some regard.”

Visit facebook.com/glowglowdarkdark for more information.

This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Encounter.

Scream Queen

May 5, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Classic horror conventions abound in the frightening local flick Endor: The car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, no one but creepy country locals for miles, blood spurts dramatically from the wounds of the slaughtered, and the terror-stricken lead, played by Julia Farrell, runs for her life through lush cornfields.       

Russ (Dustin Smith) and Farrell’s character Kiera are sweethearts traveling through Nebraska on a road trip when the gas tank goes empty and all hell breaks loose in the tiny heartland township of Endor. 

“The filmmakers wanted to make a movie that fed into all the common universal horror movie clichés and small town stereotypes, but that also had this unique religious undertone,” says Farrell.    

JuliaFarrell1IndyRed.com rated Endor four out of five stars, calling it a “solid slasher with one hell of a surprise ending.” Dread Central praised its strong lead character development, saying it inspires viewers to “root for them all the way.” 

Farrell, originally from Colorado, always loved acting. As a child, she gathered the neighborhood kids together to put on plays—which she’d then write, star in, and direct.

“I’ve always been a storyteller with a wild imagination,” says Farrell. “I love that storytelling aspect, the ability to become whatever you want and live in that world for a while.”

Farrell earned her journalism degree and theater minor from University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she met her husband, Jim. The couple relocated to Arizona, where she got a master’s in elementary education and rekindled her love of film work with a small part in Jolene with Jessica Chastain before moving to Omaha in 2008.

Although it’s not exclusively her genre, there’s a strong horror presence in Farrell’s filmography page, including titles like Cheerleader Camp: To the Death, Demon Dolls, and Silent Night, Bloody Night 2. She’s currently filming The Amityville Legacy

“I’m a huge fan of horror,” says Farrell. “I love everything from slasher/grindhouse to psychological thrillers, so I do tend to pick those roles, but I’ve also found that horror movies are pretty popular projects in the Midwest.”   

Aksarben Cinema screened Endor throughout February, and Farrell says filmmakers Aaron Gum and Faustus McGreeves made final tweaks ahead of future showings.   

Endor is horror, but not cheesy B horror. It’s meant to make you think and disturb you,” says Farrell. “There’s depth to it, and the cinematography has some nice, artsy touches—mixed with plenty of gore, of course.”    

Farrell appreciated that the role helped expand her skills.

“I had to go places I hadn’t taken myself before, but as an actor challenge is always good,” she says. “Some people scoff at horror, but it’s tough to put yourself in that state of extreme emotion on demand. To be believable, you really have to go to some dark places.”

Farrell hopes to continue growing her acting chops.

“For me, it’s not necessarily about making a blockbuster, I just love acting and independent films,” she says.

Visit facebook.com/endorfilm for more information.

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Aaron Gum

March 18, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Filmmaking has always been a part of life for Omaha resident Aaron Gum.

“I don’t know when I first became interested in film,” Gum says. “I’ve always been into video and I don’t know if there was ever really a point where I was like, ‘I want to be a filmmaker,’ but I liked the idea of telling little stories using video cameras as a medium, and I guess I grew up and decided to do it for a living.”

His earliest works were filming his high school punk rock band practices and then editing in footage from ET and Re-animator using the A.V.-dub function on VCRs.

“I didn’t actually go to any film school or college for what I do. I’ve basically been making videos and editing since before I was in high school,” Gum adds.

Gum’s first feature film, the comedy/drama Bent Over Neal, premiered in October 2014. It was well received by critics and audiences alike and played at festivals.

In a departure from his last film’s genre, Gum recently released Endor, set in rural  Nebraska. “Endor is a more traditional horror movie,” Gum says. “There are some supernatural elements and a lot of running through cornfields, which is not as much fun as you might think it would be. Especially if you’re carrying a camera rig and it’s hot and sticky.”

Aaron-Gum2Horror is familiar ground for the artist. He grew up appreciating films like Stuart Gordon’s aforementioned Re-animator and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. As the Alfred Hitchcock T-shirt Gum was wearing the day of the interview suggests, the master of suspense and Stanley Kubrick—both filmmakers with a more psychological bent—also influence him.

“My background is more in the horror films,” Gum says. “I always liked the spooky, scary stuff.”

The genre has also influenced Gum’s other projects. He freelances for advertisers and has directed about 100 music videos in the last 15 years. One video, Orenda Fink’s “This is a Part of Something Greater” recreates scenes from such classics as Poltergeist, The Shining, Psycho, and Videodrome.

Whether he is working in horror or dramedy, Gum appreciates character-driven stories.

“One interesting thing about Endor is…you’re following these kids back through their journey across Nebraska and the characters develop so when things start getting crazy you care for these people on the screen. What happens to them? Are they going to make it out of this town of Endor?”

The moviemaking process for Gum involves occupying many jobs on the set aside from directing—including cameraman, crew wrangler, and even craft service.

It’s Gum’s passion for his projects that keeps him motivated.

“There’s devotion to learning and always continuing to learn and develop your craft. I’ve never stopped trying to get better at what I do.”

Visit vimeo.com/ionraygun to learn more.

Aaron-Gum