Music Video Directors On The Rise Part 2

“I’m in house here at Kung-Fu records, I met the band and we hit it off,” Nate Weaver explained the simple formula. Usually up and coming directors seek out willing artists at bars and concerts, and these oftentimes fruitless efforts are tiring and discouraging. Due to budget restrictions indie music videos are often straight performance and usually what the label wants. But Weaver took a simple performance video and created a stunning ambiance through his lighting and post abilities. “Ten years ago,” Nate said, “I did stage lighting for cover bands which taught me how to create mood, surprise, and other emotions by dynamically changing the lighting. I like to think of myself as a decent photographer everything I do comes from lighting, photography, and composition.”

Tycho “Systems” – Director Brian Levi Bowman
The sacramental based director/animator Brian Bowman stumbled upon Scott Hansen’s website one day and immediately felt a kindred spirit. Scott is a graphic designer by trade and the creative force behind Tycho, he agreed to collaborate with Brian on the “Systems” music video. Using Scott’s background graphic, Brian crafted the 3-D effects using AfterEffects, Photoshop, and other software, like a true digital age aficionado. “Systems” was shot using a camera panning over a large graphic, resulting in very few cuts.

And so, a collaboration that began on a computer, flourished, and finally ended on a computer. But if work is defined as the dot product of the distance vector and the force vector, as my inner-nerd tells me, then no work has really been done. But then again, Brian is used to defying physics. “I was for a very long time inspired by the surreal artist Joseph Cornell,” One said. “[Cornell] crafted these little ballerina boxes that contained a micro-world of letters, postcards, memories…I’ve always been infatuated by how to document memories through objects.” And much of that infatuation is projected in his art.

Machine Head “Days Turn Blue To Gray” – Director Mike Sloat
The second collaboration with Machine Head only materialized after dodging all manners of time conflicts and artistic false starts. Four years ago, the first video that Mike Sloat did with Machine Head cost $40K and was shot on 6 different sets over 3 days. With the band constantly touring, no one could afford such luxury the second time around. But fate found a way.

Three set about with an idea. “The song is about an abusive father,” said Sloat, “and I wanted to visually and literally [convey the associated emotions in the form] of a family tree.” The family tree would be the symbolic centerpiece of the set and it would be adorned with children’s drawings and , furthermore, the tree itself would spin during the chorus, symbolizing a family out of control. The drawings would show the effects of heroine and abusive parenthood from a kid’s POV. Heavy concepts for a heavy band.

When Robert, the lead singer, heard the idea, he confessed liking it, but it was not before the opinionated front man had discussed with Sloat at length about other artistic details. And so a date was set, a set was constructed, and three completed making hundreds of crayon drawings.

“I tried to create a jarring and uneasy feeling through jerky animation,” Mike said. The animation was created by scanning each frame into the computer and later realized through a series of zooms and color manipulations. The result? A type of “despair” that even Kierkegaard would find depressing.


J’Adore “OK” – Director Gregg Simon
 J’Adore was going to be in the Big Apple for one night, and Gregg Simon was asked to capture it. It was Gregg’s first Hip Pop video and J’Adore’s first video. J’Adore planned to take the finished product around the country and end each concert with a showing of the video. With only $40k to spend and a whole lotta pressure building up, Gregg braced himself for the worst. Soon, a plan was hatched for the music video. It was going to start off with a storyline with one of those making-of vibes found in a DVD extra. Then, the music would start, and the milieu would transform into that of a music video. But what would an appropriate subject be for the story? That’s when fate availed itself. J’Adore went through NYC performing at different locations with their tour bus, and everywhere they went Gregg followed closely behind with this HD camera. “No one knew who they were…but their charisma electrified them and everybody went nuts,” Gregg remembered. NYC’s reception exceeded everyone’s expectation, including Gregg’s, and it was enough to make it the bulk of the storyline. The rest of the video was shot in Harlem that night using local residents as extras. The result was captured for the world to see in “OK”. After a hard day’s night, Gregg signed off with a smile on his face and content in his camera, everything was indeed OK.

see the J’Adore “OK” music video


Black Lips “FAD” – Director Monty Buckles
Monty met the Black Lips at a concert, or so the legend went. “After talking to them at the Silverlake Lounge and hanging out with them for a couple of days, I started falling in love with these guys,” Monty fondly remembered. An avuncular bond developed between the auteur and the artist. But it took a burrito to take their relationship to the next level. Monty elaborated: “we got these $4 or $5 burritos and while sitting there eating, one of them [Lips] said to me, ‘Yeah this is gonna be my one lavish meal for the trip.’” It turned out that the young man had only $40 to spend for the next 3 weeks of touring. Monty felt sorry for the band for never was there a more deserving band so unaffected by squalor, so content with life, and so utterly modest in their delivery of the time honored don’t-give-a-f attitude. Monty decided to help the lads to shoot a video for their single “FAD.”

“There’s this place Grosh, which is a vintage backdrop place in L.A. They have this amazing catalog of backdrops with all these incredible themes, like moonscapes and planets,” Monty recalled the scouting trips. At the same time, scenes from the Wild West began to conjure in the deepest recess of his imagination.

“I was going for this Anthony Mann western look,” Monty said. “ The Naked Spur is a real favorite movie of mine.” Other parts of the video was shot at the Laurel Canyon Stages which Monty was able to obtain for two days with all the lighting equipment for a paltry $700. The camera package from Camtek cost $500 and, interestingly, the video was shot on short ends from the movie “Bad Santa.”

“If I was some starry eyed amateur there’s no way I would have been able to do this for the price I spent…I was very lucky to get good people that I had worked with before to attach them to the project.”

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