In our continuing effort to recognize the artists responsible for Unofficial Music Videos (or Amateur Music Video/Fan Video), TikiKiti caught up with director Jesse Locke from Bend, Oregon.
About two weeks ago, we singled Jesse out for his gritty visual take on the Oasis song, “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and followed it up with a director Q&A.
In the “Cigarettes and Alcohol” video, were you looking for particular narrative elements or just trying to create a vivid collage to accompany the song?
My narrative for that video was to depict drug and alcohol addiction in a graphic light. I’m not trying to preach and say this is bad, just show you images of fucked-up shit. I feel like this song is a down and dirty song, so I wanted to have visuals that didn’t pull any punches.
Did you have a specific idea in mind that guided you or was it a more organic process?
It always starts out with a specific idea, but then it changes as time progresses and new ideas are formed. So it’s a combination of both. I had an idea I wanted to use graphic drug imagery and then it grew from there.
Was all the footage taken from YouTube?
Is the mashup approach one you favor? What are some other ideas of methods that you’ve tried?
Mashups are fun. I’m trying to push the abstract video envelope these days and put visuals to beats that are on the base visually appealing, that don’t really pertain to a concept or a narrative that goes with the song.
Is there an art form that informs your work or that you are inspired by?
Animation is kind of like a unicorn to me. Like, I know people know how to do it well and make really cool shit. I want to make really cool shit, but the in-between is extremely elusive.
Is there an artist that informs your work or who inspires you?
Quentin Tarantino has been a huge influence on the way I view the world, and my interests in exploitation etc.
What have you been up to lately?
Heading to Jordan to film our second documentary in the region.
When creating a fan video, is there a goal you try to achieve?
My goal is for the band to [A] see it [B] like it. I want to create something that a major studio band would consider using for their official video.
What is it about a song that makes you want to create visual accompaniment?
It depends on the artist, not all songs make me think in terms of visuals. But there are certain bands that speak to me on a visual level. Like Radiohead. Every time I listen to any of their songs I instantly think of cool little vignettes that would go with it. Songs are pretty awesome to create to because of the beat. I edit everything to the beat, even films that have no music in it. It has to have a cadence so making a music video seems to be a simple and fun idea for a person who lives in a visual storytelling world.
What gear do you recommend for other aspiring video makers?
DSLR camera, an expensive steady cam (save to get) and 1,000 watt light kit.
This is the first in a series of interviews TikiKiti will have with independent music videos producers. We will explore their creative process, inspirations, and where they see themselves working in the future.
An interview with Jesse Locke who just produced a new fan-made video for the Arctic Monkeys song, Do I Want to Know. Watch the video.
Jesse Locke has been producing independent films for years. When asked why he makes produces videos he jokingly says, “Fame, fortune — I want it all.” Over the last few years he has been producing fan-made music videos. He started by producing video mashups using found footage on YouTube®, but has since been making his videos with original images. His style shines through with his new fan-made music video for the Arctic Monkeys song, Do I Wanna Know.
Shot in stark, high contrast black and white — with the occasional shot of blood red splashing across the image — this video shows many of Jesse’s influences. He has always had an affinity with horror films. Quentin Tarantino has been one of his greatest influences. He equates Tarantino with Andy Warhol, saying Tarantino is one of the best pop culture directors with lots of references to old movies and styles.
In this latest video he says he was fascinated with grainy old crime scene footage and William S. Burroughs. The quick editing and repetition of images is evidence of this influence. Jesse says he believes all of his videos have a story even though he usually starts with an image and builds upon that. Especially in this video where the image of a leg in the trunk of a car helped influence the entire video. He is moving away from the lineal narrative. He doesn’t want his video to follow a timeline. The story in “Do I Wanna Know” developed in this manner. One theme that evolved was that of a few women characters in the video being vampire like. As the main character watches them on tv, is he draining them or are they draining him of life?
The techniques he uses also influenced the final edit. Jesse says he used a strobe light for some scenes. This caused his camera to develop video glitches. These glitches became part of the video and influenced other effects as well. He called this a “happy accident,” but it seems that his directing styles lends itself to happy accidents. As Jesse says, “I take pride in my ability to adapt to a wide variety of situations that arise during production.” An example was when he had a talent in for a shoot. This guy was allergic to bees and said as much when he saw a bee in the garage they were shooting. The talent slowly moved as part of the shoot and the bee lands on his hand. The bee is slapped to the floor and Jesse kills it. Looking at the dead bee on the ground,
Jesse has an idea to include this in the music video. So in fact there is a quick shot of a dead bee in the music video to Do I Wanna Know.
Locke says he is not a dictatorial director. As with most independent producers, his talent is usually not being paid. He doesn’t want to waste peoples time so he works fast. This has lead to him shooting scenes quickly, using whatever elements he has in front of him. Forced to be frugal when it comes to resources means he needs to be more creative to achieve a visually satisfying product. The ability to improvise has helped him become more adept at making the most of many situations, and been key to making a good videos. It was Locke’s ability to think on his feet that got the attention of Steve Perry of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Although he started working with the Daddies as a cameraman, Perry quickly brought him into the role of directing of their videos by asking for his opinion and to experiment with techniques.
Locke’s business, AMZ Productions, does different types of commercial work as well. He brings the skills learned from making music videos into the everyday work of video production for businesses. His clients rely on him to bring creativity and an alternative point of view to their projects. He found success by taking more of a leadership role in these situations. He realized soon, however, that the idea of being a leader was really about bringing everyone into the production and understanding the importance of their roles.
TikiKiti will be following Jesse Locke’s career. He knows how to turn an idea into a visual reality. And he has the drive to keep doing it. You can find more of Jesse Locke’s videos on YouTube® at AMZ Productions. You can also find him on Facebook.
“I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse/For the crime of having no dough/Now here I am back out on the street/For the crime of having nowhere to go.”
Glad to have you back for another trip around the video Mulberry Bush with our five top-shelf entries from April. Did you get your taxes done? I tried to tell the IRS that no one was interested in seeing my taxes, but we’re still miles apart on that subject.
This month’s Top Five includes impressive work from France, Thailand, and Indonesia, proving once again that teen angst transcends all borders and timelines.
As you are no doubt aware, the top finisher for the month will collect the esteemed Barclay Award for Excellence in Video Arts. If you’re a past winner, why don’t you send us a snap of the trophy perched majestically on the mantle in your lovely home? Besides, we hardly ever hear from you except for Christmas and birthdays!
1. Producer: Kevin Bodin Films
Song: “Les Cours Des Lycées”
Oh, thank heavens it was all just a dream. The denim-vest wearing French protagonist is executed by a disappointed girlfriend for the crime of being lame. The assured craftsmanship exhibited in Kevin Bodin Films’ provocative production is faultless and hypnotic.
2. Producer: Unlocked Films
Song: “In Cold Blood”
Another stylistic knock-out from Barclay Award winner Jesse Locke and the Unlocked Films team. A true Battle of the Titans plays out before our unbelieving eyes, somehow combining Tarantino, Italian opera, and big-time wrassling to full blooming effect.
3. Producer: Dino Squirrel
Artist: New York Dolls
Song: “Stranded in the Jungle”
Superb animation welded to a tasty tune. Pro-level moves from Dino Squirrel, and we look forward to more.
4. Producer: Pond TR
Song: “Be There”
What begins as pop video confection turns apocalyptic and deeply personal—a father worries that he can’t keep his daughter safe in this touching tale from Thailand.
5. Producer: Riki Sodikin
Song: “Caught In The Middle”
Deceptively and sweetly simple, this Indonesian entry radiates the unbridled joy of creativity. Finding your joy is the key to unlocking it all.
My apologies to Marie Kondo, but she’s definitely on to something.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Once again the crew of The Calypso is taking a deep dive into the trenches of our last three Barclay Award winners to sift out the pirate treasure and illuminate unseen creative caverns. Check your air!
1. Producer: Kornelia Malczewska
Artist: DJ Snake + AlunaGeorge
Song: “You Know You Like It”
It’s the little things that bring out the best scores. The art direction and costumes in Kornelia Malczewska’s production are spot-on. The near-lurid neon scenes represent the dancer’s inner world, where she dresses and moves like a superhero, contrasted with the mundane reality of daily harassment by idiot boys.
Note to producers: For a performance video it’s imperative to find a choreographer/performer with substance as well as style. Ecaterina Cirlan is the dancer’s name here and her focus is downright fierce, reminiscent of Madonna in her MTV prime. Cirlan is the revving engine, while Malczewska plots the course—a first-rate collaboration.
1. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: April March
Song: “Chick Habit”
We’ve seen videos by Northwest filmmaker Jesse Locke before, and for good reason. He brings a strong storytelling sensibility to his work, informing each frame with tension and mood. As in the case of Locke’s previous winning video, he operates in the low-budget punk-thriller genre, once again with fearless female protagonists taking action when the going gets tough.
As for the notion that witches are back in a big way, Locke nails the zeitgeist perfectly, even as Netflix gains spell points with its Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot. Now is not the time for passive heroes.
1. Producer: Hadi BA
Song: “Good Life”
The way things come in and out of focus in Hadi BA’s travel montage mirrors the disorienting intoxication of travel, suggesting that it is indeed a tiring ordeal, but that we are better because of it. The omniscient narrator gently reminds us to get over ourselves and to look at different people in faraway lands to experience spiritual growth.
The use of black-and-white photography here is exquisite, blurring the line between arrival and departure through transitional landscapes (shuttles, airplanes, airports) that require their own navigation. The monotones both fade and command attention, but we’re usually moving too fast for serious contemplation.
One of our prime directives at TikiKiti is that we build and grow a community of fan video enthusiasts and actual producers. To that end, we want to zoom in, from time to time, on the creative types behind the keyboards, and the choices they make to get some idea of how the magic happens. Think of it as quick hits with fearless video artists for your daily inoculation of inspiration.
For instance, Jesse Locke, from Bend, Oregon, has orchestrated a grim tsunami of images to accompany the gritty Brit-rocker “Cigarettes and Alcohol” by Oasis. It’s an artful mashup approach, with footage from Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Saturday Night Fever, Nosferatu, and Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as well as cutaways synched to band members themselves performing the song. It’s a seamless use of sound and imagery that makes a statement that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.
Thematically, Jess utilizes shots from acclaimed films to illustrate the dilemma of “having a good time” with the help of drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. The allure of dancing, seeing a band, and possibly meeting new friends on a Saturday night, becomes waylaid and defeated by the pursuit of intoxicants.
Whatever goal one had in mind in terms of an enjoyable evening, quickly becomes secondary to getting drunk, getting high, or smoking a whole bunch of ciggies, which in turn echoes the weary, jaded sensibilities of the Oasis song. The fact that substance abuse has become so ubiquitous in pop culture, has nearly rendered its use a cliché.
In Niconico Douga’s anime riot created for the venerable pep rally pop anthem, “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers, a similar idea is approached from a different angle, as a joyful explosion of performance anime is used to celebrate more positive (albeit purposely naïve) entertainment possibilities.
The pageantry, wonder, and frenetic pace of the anime (including scenes from popular examples of the genre such as Tamako Love Story, Kids on the Slope, and Angel Beats!), paints a much more optimistic picture of fun, as images of nonstop leaping and bounding give way to Hi Standard’s furious punk version of “Saturday Night,” with its accelerated tempo pushing the video toward a near-hysterical finale.
Behold, two videos with very different views on a subject: and this is only the beginning of our curated exploration of fan-made music videos. Stay tuned for more opinion and analysis.
If you want to be a part of the discussion, send us fan videos, whether you made them or not, and we’ll take a look and see what make them tick.
When TikiKiti first started rating videos we found several different types of videos and knew we needed to break up our ratings by categories. The mashup video is one of the types. But, when we started we found that “mashup” meant different things to different people. When making a music video some producers would take existing music videos and mash up the songs together to create a single video. At TikiKiti we looked at this and decided we didn’t want to rate these. There just wasn’t enough creativity there.
What we did like were videos put to a single song, but the images were garnered from all over YouTube. This type of video is still one of my personal favorites because they are consistently very creative, have a variety of different production features added, and, especially, quality editing. In fact, the editing is what brings the other categories together.
Some examples of great videos are those done by Jesse Locke.
Jesse has a certain style whereby his videos are usually face-paced but with some very recognizable clips. He says he normally spends about 12 hours on a mashup video — maybe more.
Other type of mashup is this by Luis Perez:
This mashup is brilliant in how it has taken some very abstract imagery and pieced them together, overlapping them and adding color to form a cohesive video that fits the music perfectly.
Another video that puts visuals to an instrumental is by Ezzion for the song Alwaysfall by Drip-133:
This exceptional video has taken clips from old films — very old films — and edited them to create a narrative of sorts.
Something seemingly basic as this done to a Linkin Park song, Roads Untraveled, produced by Владимир Черепанов:
This video mixes clips of the band with some very captivating images of flying whales. I’m reminded of Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Although many of the images are literal — in that they reflect the song lyrics exactly — such as shots of driving down deserted roads, the producer has put them together to create something different. The editing leaves the viewer asking some questions about what it was they just watched.
Is it a Mashup or a Narrative? Sometimes mashup videos are constructed using various videos of a single artist or event. As with this video produced by XDinoStephX for the Halsey song, Hurricane.
The production quality on this production was rated very high because of how the various videos were put together to create a similar look and feel. Sometimes filters or other color changes features are used to create a cohesive appearance. Most Lana del Rey videos use these features to create a look that is similar to LDR’s own videos:
With all this said, a good mashup does not need to be a fast paced, quickly edited, epileptic video. Sometimes a good mashup can take just one video and edit it to create a space when wrapped with a song. An example is this video by the Deftones of their song Riviére as produced by The Unseen.
The mashup video is one of the more creative categories that TikiKiti rates. There is such a wealth of source material that the producer will likely spend more time finding just the right shot for each edit then most anything else. When the producer begins adding original elements, such as text, filters and other effects, is when the mashup becomes a remarkable music video.
After watching a lot of fan-made and “unofficial” music videos lately I’ve come to the conclusion that many are better than the official version. There are some obvious differences, production value being the most noticeable: Official videos tend to look as if there was a lot of money spent on them. But the ideas and execution of the videos are very similar.
Those who watch music videos tend to be influenced by what they watch. I suspect this goes back to the heyday of MTV and how the music video came into it’s own, however, the Internet does tend to homogenize the creative experience. You can see this when watching videos; they all tend to look the same. I can’t count the number of videos showing people walking. Just walking: Down streets, through the woods. And this is for both official and unofficial videos.
So where does a budding music video producer begin. Well, starting with production values, defined as the combined technical qualities of the methods, materials, or stagecraft skill used in the production of a motion picture or artistic performance. This means using all the resources at your disposal to make the best video possible.
Now don’t get production value confused with creativity. In fact, minus a large budget this is where the novice music video producer can shine. What is Creativity? This is tough to define. Creativity at Work has attempted to do so. The short version is, “The act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.” On their blog, Creativity at Work makes it simple with this graphic:
There’s much more to making a video. Production value is not just money, places, and props. It’s people. And convincing people to do a video often requires leadership skills. Or the skills of a con artist. This is when you need to use your creative vision to excite others to be part of something great. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty the LA Video Filmmaker website has some very useful tips. Here you will find a very interesting tid-bit (in bold no less) that states, “The general trend is that the music video industry disrespects vanilla directors and meaningful storytelling.”
The point of this statement and the bulk of the article is that the producer should forget what the music says. The video should not recreate the story in the music. It needs to be conceptual. The LA Video article uses this Lenny Kravitz as a example:
However, if you don’t have the money to create space ship set with lots of effects consider this example by independent producer Jesse Locke:
This is a video mashup of the Oasis song, Cigarettes and Alcohol.
The mashup by Jesse Locke brings me to the final aspect of making a good video: Putting it all together. That is quality editing. His mashup is just not the quality of the images he uses but the way he has put them together. These are not just random images editing to the Oasis song, he has considered every image and its place in the video. He uses the same techniques in his Crave You (Adventure Club Remix) to equal success.
These are single examples and some very simple guidelines. Making something unique and standing out in the crowd means adapting a mindset beyond that of a student in a media class. More about that in an upcoming article.