Mando Diao | Mean Streets


Mando Diao | Mean Streets  What they made instead...

Rejected 05/29/2009


The video will focus on a guerrilla gardener (a person who landscapes ruined cityscapes in secret) as she attempts to navigate the dangers of the Big City while protecting potted plants she’s carrying. Her reactions to various city folk she encounters are expressed through “visions” she has, represented in the video by comic stopmotion animation inspired by Boody Rogers comics.

Technical treatment

The video will be shot at a low frame rate to match the comic jitter of the stop motion.  The stopmotion “visions” will be a combination of claymation and miniatures.


We open with a shot of  a dorky Asian girl with big coke bottle glasses burdened with plants walking through a busy China Town market.  This is Sung Yen.  She looks at the city scape baking in the summer sun.  We cut to a stopmotion animation of a scale model of the city in miniature.  A pair of hands descend on the model and dump handfuls of earth on it, then transplant a big geranium in the center.

We next see Sung Yen on board a subway, her plants piled about her. She is seated across from a distraught business man, who’s face is flushed and clammy. He’s looking downward.  On his lap lay an open dossier holding a blackberry, various foreclosure notices and a soiled Freedom 55 flier.  While staring at him, Sung Yen has a vision of claymation pigs eating money out of a wheel barrow; as it empties the pigs waste away to bone racks.

Standing beside the business man is a lanky, paranoid woman wearing a flu mask. She’s looking at the businessman’s red face and weepy eyes suspiciously.  Sung Yen buries her face into her plant.  She has a vision of a row of mouths passing a purple cloud of comic germs to one another.   

Sung Yen exits the subway.  She’s seems to be in a derelict part of town.  Soon she comes across an abandoned cement planter box from the 60’s.  A homeless man has set up camp beside it.  A handwritten sign beside his bed reads “MITCH-VILLE: no soliciting!!!”  Stealthily Sung Yen sneaks up to the planter box and fills it with greenery and flowers without waking the man. We cut to a cross-section of a human head; the inside of the skull is filled with dirt and litter.  Sung Yen’s hands enter from off screen and flick away the rubbish.  A huge deep-coloured bloom fills up the skull.

Next, on a different street, Sung Yen puts a plant on top of a rusted barbecue can.  Nearby an Asian punk girl with sleeve tattoos wearing huge headphones sits melting the heads of her Manga dolls with a lighter.  Sung Yen has a vision of an action figure version of Johny Apple seed.  It seems to be part of an American Hero’s children’s play set she might own.

Later Sung Yen is seen packing earth into empty soda bottles she’s salvaged from a trash heap.  She strings them up and them become a hanging garden. While walking down a graffiti-ed alleyway a street hustler approaches her.  He looks dopey and unclean. 

    “Great looking hydrangea.”  he says in subtitles.

Their encounter is interrupted by a fat guy with a neck tattoo and a Noam Chomsky t-shirt.

“Buffalo Bill!”  the new guys screams as he belts the sleazy guy in the face. Sung Yen scoots away while the two guys fight.  She has a vision of two claymation chimpanzees exchanging blows, their faces distorting horribly with each strike.

In the final sequence, Sung Yen climbs a rusty fire escape to the top of an apartment building.  It is revealed that she has converted it into a massive green-roof covered in lush foliage.  This is her home base.  Hidden amongst the plants are smalls shrines containing miniatures seen earlier in the video.  Sung Yen sits down in her urban garden and looks out at the city scape. 

Cut to black

Aprx  Completion:  4 weeks