Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Think Outside the Quadrilateral Parallelogram

Seems like a majority of Video Production majors in this school want to be music video directors. After visiting VP classes and portfolio review, I noticed a taste for music videos has popped into the agendas of almost every aspiring filmmaker at AI. And why not? Play music you like, go and film a bunch of random nonsense, then edit to a pre-determined beat. It's a fast and easy way to work.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where every music video we can think of is at our fingertips. Therefore, audiences are bombarded with alot of the same. As an experiment, try finding a genre of music you enjoy (rap, r&b, jazz, pop, classical, etc). Find the artists that perform within that genre. Compare/Contrast their music videos. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the videos tend to blend together. Rap videos are characterized by women in bikinis, men with 40's and baseball caps, expensive cars, someone running down some neighborhood street, etc. Pop videos have overused the model shots of the lead singer mouthing, longingly into the camera about heart ache over a lost lover, leaving a lover, or getting back to a lost lover only to have them leave. (Oh, irony!)
The point is that music video genres are like film genres. They tend towards following some formula to lure a familiar audience. Example: An audience of horror movie fans expect to see someone get killed in the first ten minutes of any horror film. Fans are likely to be disappointed when they are not getting their formula fix. However, the exception to these formula rules are passed around and showcased between fans when they introduce something different that surprises and excites. An example of this is the Japanese horror film "Audition", which has been hailed as a cult classic. There is no violence in the film until the last half hour of the movie.
This Jay-Z video did just that to me. In the video posted below "On to the next one", he is introducing the world of "high-art" to an audience that would normally never go to an art gallery or have knowledge in art history. The director, Sam Brown, is using imagery that mimics the photography of Man Ray and art sculpture from Damion Hurst. I appreciate Jay-Z's choice to bring something new to the tastebuds of hungry fans. While the imagery is not original, at least it stood out among the sea overused themes.

Something to think about while you are brainstorming for short projects or thesis projects: Introduce something that surprises you, as an artist and person, into your work. I encourage all of you to look at your GenEd classes in this way. Ex: When your teacher is lecturing about the Modernist period in Art History, take a serious look at the paintings. How can you mimic those compositions in your film frame? Do the colors evoke some kind of emotion? Can you mimic a similar color scheme to create an emotional pallet in your film? Start asking yourself these questions. Constantly do research in areas that are unfamiliar. Explore!

So, what do you think? Agree, disagree? Let me know by commenting on this post. Get a conversation started.
Cheers, Director Eve.


  1. Every once in a while a really good video comes out and people seem to forget about those when they work on their own projects.
    I really liked the dripping paint and slow moving shots. They used the standard hot car and chick but in an interesting way.
    I love watching something that is a challenge to describe.
    Use your other class work to inspire your video work. There's a reason you are required to learn these things.

  2. I thought the same thing when I first saw that video by JayZ. It's something different. It's "on to the next one" with different random images.

    It's always best to think opposite of what people expect to see, even if people think it's ridiculous why creating it. I have no idea why there is milk? paint? dripping out of a sneaker..might mean something but I don't know but it's awesome. Lady Gaga's Bad Romance is another great video. Great shots and visuals.

  3. I hadn't seen this vid until your post. I completely agree you. Sometimes I'm sitting in the editing lab on the 2nd floor while others around me are editing their personal projects and every now and then I'll look over my shoulder to see someone editing a music video. I'm rarely impressed.

    I love the imagery in this video - the dark and light. I've actually been researching documentaries and thinking of how I can incorporate the raw style into a music video. I'll email the product once i've finished editing.

    thanks for the challenge

  4. Niq, fanstastic post! Keep it up guys!