Copyright 2017 - Checker Car Club of America, Inc.
In a mere four months, Ed Sheeran’s music video “Shape of You” was viewed over 1.1 billion times on YouTube. Even if that number is an exaggeration, it also means that Bill Crawford’s Checker A-11 Taxi has been seen by a staggering number of people around the world.
Ed and Jennie approaching Bill's Checker
While the view count keeps climbing, the video is not yet at the Number 1 spot. That distinction belongs to “PSY - Gangnam Style” which has been viewed close to 2.8 billion times.
But, never mind that. Instead, let’s focus on how Bill’s Checker got to be in the “Shape of You” music video.
Sometime in late 2016, a request went out from the Anonymous Content production company to locate a Checker cab that could be used in a music video to be shot in Seattle, Washington. Joe Fay, the founder of the Internet Checker Taxicab Archive, remembered that Bill Crawford owns two Checkers in the Seattle area and made him aware of the opportunity.
Bill Crawford with his 1970 A12 Checker Wagon and 1979 A-11 Taxi
Bill showed his two Checkers to the scouts who decided on the green ’79 A-11 since it would fit in nicely with the gritty, industrial feel and landscape that was planned for the video.
The shoot with the Checker took place on a cold and wintry day in December 2016. The script called for a budding boxer (played by Ed Sheeran) and his new girlfriend to exit the diner/coffee shop, walk toward the waiting taxi, get inside and go for a short ride to nowhere in particular.
Actually, the whole story goes something like this:
Boy [Ed Sheeran] goes to gym where a beautiful and powerful girl [Jennie Pegouskie] is already working out in the boxing ring. He changes in the locker room and goes to work out. Their eyes meet from far away.
Back in the locker room, the girl accidentally smacks the guy in the face with the door of her locker. They laugh and the ice is broken. They grab some food at the local diner and then take a cab ride in a Checker taxi. Their hands meet in the back of the cab and the romance begins.
The relationship unfolds with many scenes in the gym where the guy gets in shape for a big match with (get this) an absolutely huge sumo wrestler [Yama]. An unlikely match that the guy loses, badly! The girlfriend then enters the ring with a running karate type jump toward the head of the sumo wrestler. And there the story (and the song) ends.
Bill recalls that the Checker shoot took roughly four hours. There was little time for any interactions with the crew and cast since everyone had to focus on the job at hand. But, Ed and Bill did spend time together inside the Checker and had enough time to discover that they had something in common. That something was England where Ed was born and raised and where Bill was attached to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in an earlier part of his life.
After Ed and Jennie get in the cab, there is a close-up of the rear quarter of the car taking off.
Then a front view of the Checker pulling away.
Cut away to the couple holding hands in the back seat and an innocent kiss...
...as the Checker pulls away to who knows where.
As with a lot of movies and videos, many takes and clips end up on the cutting room floor. That was also the case with this music video. In a video called Cue1 EdiT posted by Kewin Rogers on Vimeo, Bill's Checker is shown in mirror image. The two major clues are the TAXI sign showing up as IXAT and the driver (Bill) sitting behind the steering wheel mounted on the right side of the dashboard.
Director|DOP: Jason Koenig
Producer: Honna Kimmerer
Production company: Anonymous Content
Exec Producer: Nina Soriano
Cinematography: Johnny Valencia, Ryan Haug
Edited by: Johnny Valencia, Jason Koenig
Commissioner: Dan Curwin
With thanks to Stephen Disbrowe and Michael Pincus for letting us know that the Checker owner is Bill Crawford