Friday, March 8, 2019

Music Videos I’ve Directed

The best part about making music videos is that it gives me the space to experiment, both visually and narratively. I take music videos very seriously, but there is far more playing involved than there is with a short or feature film. And that playing allows me to test out new ideas and find what works, which I then apply to my movies. Below is a list of all the music videos I’ve directed so far, and what I’ve learned from each of them.

Mint Green (2015)
Performed by Andrew Shapiro
This was an experiment with fantasy. Every film story I had told up until this point could have happened in real life, but with Mint Green, I wanted to play with the idea of positing something fantastical, while putting it in the real world. Obviously, our loved ones don’t come back from the dead, but the goal was to sell that notion here. That was the experiment. Visually, I played a lot with overexposed, white light to give the video an angelic feel.

Lauren Hynde (2016)
Performed by Andrew Shapiro
Lauren Hynde was designed to use color to tell a story. I bathed most every scene in a different color, which culminates with a flashy, neon-soaked argument. The characters in this video are in bad places, and I hoped the rapid change of color would put you in their frantic headspace. After this video, I gained the confidence to be bolder with my in-camera color choices, which has been a staple of my cinematography ever since. Fun fact about this one: I secretly told her to slap him, but I didn’t tell him that it was coming. So his reaction is completely real. There was a lot of trust on this set, thank god.

Fossils (2016)
Performed by Seasons
I really wanted to play with split screen, and Fossils was the perfect vehicle to test that device. Split screen is a great way to show the same event from different perspectives, and how that impacts each character individually. This video was insanely difficult to edit (matching the continuity was tough), but I’m so happy with how it turned out. The “run” sequence is one of my favorite things I’ve ever shot.

None of You (2018)
Performed by ThankQue
None of You was the first music video I directed that I did not write. ThankQue came up with the story, and it was a lot of fun bringing his vision to life. Visually, I was obsessed with finding a way to capture one performer in the frame moving at regular speed, while another person in the frame moved at a sped-up rate. I was insistent on doing this without special effects, and I’m so pleased with the result. I also wanted to see how smoke could give depth to a shot, especially when used in a large space.

E’ery Time (2019)
Performed by Nicolayus Ali
Every music video I have directed was shot in four shooting days or less. E’ery Time was different. Nicolayus Ali and I had the idea to follow his character around for a year, and capture different scenes around Washington D.C. We let the settings inform the look and feel of the video, which is why every scene is captured in a unique way (handheld, glider, fish eye, black and white, neon color, etc.). When the year was done, I had amassed hours of footage, and it was equally fun and challenging to cut that footage down to three minutes.


Thanks so much for taking the time to watch these! If you’re interested, all of my other filmmaking work can be found on my website: http://alexwithrow.com/flicks

6 comments:

  1. I remember seeing the Mint Green video but the rest I'll definitely check out as it's good to see that you're getting work for some videos. BTW, any music video directors are you influenced by such as David Fincher, Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, Mark Romanek, Spike Jonze, and Russell Mulcahy?

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    1. Thanks so much for checking them out! I absolutely love music videos, but great ones are so hard to find nowadays. I like many of the directors you listed, and recently have been drawn to Kendrick Lamar's videos. The best ones tell an interesting story, and utilize so many cool filmmaking techniques. I also remember discovering the music video for Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High) - Hippie Sabotage Remix" and being blown away buy it. I'd love to recreate that somehow, without intentionally ripping it off.

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  2. Great job with all of these. I really enjoyed sitting through them all. Music videos can really be like great short movies with the right director and i think you accomplished that here. My favorites were probably Mint Green (i think i have seen that one before as well.) and Fossils. I loved what you did with the split screens there. I think i recognized some of the actors in these videos from your movie Wait as well, is that right? The music was also good. I think i need to add a few of these to my Spotify playlist. I hope you keep posting more of your work here. I always enjoy checking it out.

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    1. Thanks so much for such a kind comment, Henrik! And yep, a few of those faces have appeared in my other work as well. I always thought music videos were a great way to keep the relationship with actors going between bigger projects. But I'm very happy you liked the videos and the songs as well. Thanks for checking them out!

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  3. Love your music videos! You directed the actors and musicians beautifully in all of them. How did you use and create the different colors in the apartment for Lauren Hynde - is just different colored bulbs on regular lamps or special lighting? Was it easy to change for different takes? Each story and the approach you took really fits the song well. Great job as always!

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    1. Wow, Katy, this is such a nice comment. Thank you so much! The color scheme for Lauren Hynde was kind of insane, and definitely time consuming. For that scene, I positioned three soft box lights out of frame, and yep, basically changed the bulbs to a new color before every take. I explained the color idea to the actors, and they were totally on board with it. The fun of shooting and editing that scene was that I purposefully ignored continuity, which is something I had never consciously done before. So I had a blast breaking all the rules.

      Thank you again for this comment!

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