Let’s take a moment and get to know another of our Barclay Award winning visual artists, Matthew Smith, whose video for the Tyler Childers song “Nose On The Grindstone” took top honors for March of this year.
Can you give us a brief biographical sketch? Age, location, background, studies, profession?
I’m 32 years old, living in Richmond, Kentucky. I’m an Army veteran; I am currently a fulltime student working on my BFA degree at Eastern Kentucky University here in Richmond.
How are you holding up amidst all this upheaval? What’s happening in your area?
It’s not been terribly bad where I am considering what I’ve seen in other parts of the U.S. Recent events have been challenging to an extent. It is a confusing and frustrating time, I feel like, for most of us that are just trying to make sense of everything going on.
Are you a film professional or more of a student/hobbyist?
I had taken a study abroad trip to Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, last spring. I studied illustration there but also decided to take an elective film and animation class and fell in love with visual storytelling. That’s what I’ve decided my title is, visual storyteller.
What can you tell us about the “Nose On The Grindstone” production? Gear, crew, time?
This video was filmed using a combination of a C100, Lumix GH5, and my Samsung Galaxy when I was flying over the island and about to land in the country for the first time.
I had one other crewmember; he was a graduate student also from the US that I was introduced to, and a former marine. He assisted with camera and lighting, but I directed, performed, produced, and edited the video with the university’s equipment. I think we went from start to finish in about three or four days, max.
We used the university’s recording studio for some of the shots, and then contacted a church nearby to film a few scenes in there and the rest was reenacting the landing scenes at the airport mostly.
Did you have the “story” pretty well laid out beforehand to make a statement?
Tyler Childers and John Prine had toured Wellington just before this assignment for film class came up, so this was actually a project I filmed after the concert for a grade in film class. Tyler opened the show with this song, and I was homesick to a degree because I was expecting a baby back in the U.S.—that’s her ultrasound in the end of the video.
I’d listened to the lyrics and recalled memories from childhood and was always being told that if I wanted to make it as an artist I’d have to leave home and go out into the world to learn how it’s done.
Where I grew up in South Eastern Kentucky, we didn’t have many opportunities in the art field and I wanted to pioneer something here to prove to other local artists that we actually could. So it’s a chronological story for the most part of what they call in fiction as the “hero’s journey,” I tried matching visuals best I could with the words and it kinda just flowed.
Is this your story, or that of someone close to you? It’s an emotional powerhouse.
These are my reflections growing up poor and somewhat under undereducated about the world. The picture of the house belonged to my great grandma.
Neither of my parents went to college, I’m the first, I guess, to actually leave the country and study abroad, so it was kind of a big deal for me to get to tell that story in a country where they know little about KY but have KFC’s everywhere.
I’d been discharged early from the military and when I came home I struggled a lot with insomnia and mental health for a while in my 20’s. It kinda spiraled out of control and (I) couldn’t keep work, my car was getting repoed and I’d lived for about a year in a storage building.
Finally in 2017 I won a claim I’d had to appeal four times from my medical discharge and they back paid me from 2012.
That allowed me to have a second chance in life to have a clean slate and do something I was actually passionate about.
What are you working on these days?
I have about one year left for my BFA degree and mainly have my time focused on getting through that. I did, however, start up my film production LLC in February of this year and invested in resources and equipment to do more filming, documentaries, and music videos.
A friend and I just finished up another Unofficial Video of a song called “Dead Horse” he covered to compete in a contest for Hayley Williams the lead singer of Paramore. I just loaded it to Youtube as well, as a portfolio piece for the business, which is basically what I’d also done with this video.
Everything on my Youtube channel is just a big portfolio for my digital art.
Lock up the streets and houses / Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later / Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right.
No need for any April Fool’s pranks this year, m’kay? We’ve been nearly fooled to death.
Looking around, it appears that rage is all the rage. People are pissed off and rightfully so. The system has failed us, time and again.
Rage is a powerful emotion and we’ve seen what it can do by itself. Rage coupled with the urge to create can be incredibly cathartic.
I’ve said as much before, and it bears repeating: Use it. Take your iPhone or Android and make a little movie. Maybe add a little song.
If you can take that step, TikiKiti is here as a forum for video artists from literally every part of the planet. Month after month, we see what’s on your mind, no matter which continent you call home.
We’re a cranky collective of filmmakers, writers, and designers, who stay up most nights watching your Unofficial Music Videos, and forming opinions.
On a quasi-monthly basis we showcase the five shorts we’ve picked as best, and present the distinguished Barclay Trophy to the most deserving creator.
Sometimes, like this month, we have two winners.
1. Producer: Ekest
First stop, Finland. Doesn’t it seem like the whole universe is one big Missed Encounter? A bit of bad timing and entire timelines of possibilities collapse. This is first-rate shot composition and a concept beautifully realized.
1. Producer: Foxy Creatures
Artist: Funny Bunny
Song: “Bang Bang”
A decidedly unglamorous take on the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, complete with the questionable allure of self-destructive hedonism.
3. Producer: Charlotte Jouin
Artist: David Bowie
Song: “Lady Grinning Soul”
Is she a moth or a butterfly? It’s hard to tell in black & white. This is a marvelous pairing of song and image. French filmmaker Charlotte Jouin’s admiration for David Bowie rings clear and true in every frame.
4. Producer: Ibrahim Tunc
Artist: Sven-Holger Rosenvinge
All the preparation before the moment can be both excruciating and exhilarating. Flawless editing and a riveting performance highlight this video short from Sweden.
5. Producer: Richard Egan & Laragh McCann
Song: “The Sea Shade”
Deep summer memories of love and wonder are worth every hour of survival drudgery on the way to the grave. This delicate entry from Ireland deftly depicts the very real bloom of new sensations, wrapped in a dreamlike gauze as if viewed from a different time.
I wish we could cash in on the air miles, or at least get our passports stamped. Finland, France, Sweden, and Ireland all in one trip? This is globetrotting without losing your luggage.
Footnote: We haven’t forgotten Best Video of 2019, and we’ll have a winner momentarily!
The fact is…
No matter how closely I study it / No matter how I take it apart / No matter how I break it down / It remains consistent / I wish you were here to see it.
The outside world? Vastly overrated. Everything we need can be found right here. *points to head*
I find it odd, or perhaps oddly comforting, that while network news is relatively silent about the ways in which our global neighbors are dealing with this pesky plague, we have in our possession an unspoiled network of opportunity to share our dreams, observations, and anxieties.
Use it. Use your time and creative zeal to make Unofficial Music Videos. Process the darkness and fear it no more.
We’re all in the same dark here, and we can use more light on the subject.
Have I mentioned lately that TikiKiti is a micro-community of cinema devotees in search of brilliant Unofficial Music Videos? On a mostly monthly basis we critique the five top entrants, and present the Barclay Trophy to a promising video artist—like you.
March was one of the longest months in recorded history, and we all got reacquainted with Netflix, carbohydrates, and despair.
So let’s March forward into something better, like a tie for first place. Congrats to both our winners!
1. Producer: Appalachian Ghost Productions
Artist: Tyler Childers
Song: “Nose To The Grindstone”
There’s so much story to unpack here, it’s hard to know where to begin. This Appalachian Ghost Production is a masterful blend of song and image that speaks volumes about the plight of the working poor. Poignancy is a complicated feeling and difficult to capture. Here’s how it’s done.
1. Producer: Film Framer
Song: “Subterranean Homesick Alien”
Who’s the alien here? Like David Bowie before him, Film Framer explores the isolation and ennui of the English schoolboy by transforming his protagonist into a man who just fell to earth.
3. Producer: Jocelyn Ren
Song: “Killer Queen”
Girls just want to have fun, but what happens when the 24-hour party ends? Superb editing and the lead actress is astonishing.
4. Producer: Joshua John Esguerra
Song: “Nothing Is Safe”
The cycle of abuse bears bitter fruit. The drained black-and-white photography gives “Nothing Is Safe” the appearance of a bad dream or suppressed memory. It’s important to exorcise every day.
5. Producer: Michael Crowley
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Song: “Dark Paradise”
It’s a love story with gorgeous art direction and drone-powered panorama. Every shot is a keeper.
Thanks for joining us! Keep sending those wonderful care packages and we’ll make it to the other side of this mess.
And we haven’t forgotten the Best Video of 2019! It’s due any minute.
The cuckoo clock has died of shock and the windows feel no pane / The air’s as still as the throttle of a funeral train.
Hey! How’s it going? Pretty good? Can’t complain? So let’s embrace our social distancing.
It’s a weird world out there, friends. We’re all at least six feet apart to slow the spread of Covid-19, our pitiless unseen enemy. Yet the irony of coming together by staying away from each other is not lost on anyone.
We have time on our hands, and it looks as though isolation is going to be a recurring theme in our lives. We’re encouraging video artisans to incorporate and process their own feelings of isolation, loneliness, dread, claustrophobia, determination, and triumph into new Unofficial Music Videos. We want to make this a thing.
Then again, maybe it already is.
Just to refresh your memory, TikiKiti is a tiny collective of movie nerds, filmmakers, writers, and artistic types who want nothing more than to see your Unofficial Music Videos. On a semi-monthly basis we show the five best, and present the Barclay Trophy to the top vote-getter.
It may not be February anymore, but these five featurettes have us looking back fondly to a time when we could still gather in person.
1. Producer: Lidia in Shanghai
Artist: Five Seconds of Summer
A perfectly crafted distillation of a first-love arc, with fresh emotions blooming and bursting through our video subjects. Colors peak and fade as we learn the hard way that love is a two-way street, and traffic can be murder.
2. Producer: Edinburgh Filmmaking Society
Artist: Pink Floyd
Song: “Great Gig in the Sky”
Astral trip or acid trip? One way to grapple with loneliness and isolation is to allow the mind to shift gears and hopefully find a safe place beyond these four walls.
3. Producer: Issy Johnston
Artist: Glass Animals
Song: “Mama’s Gun”
Here’s hard evidence that we’re at our most becoming when we’re becoming something else. Another thing we can do by ourselves? Evolve. Grow. Caterpillar meet butterfly.
4. Producer: Archie Whiting
Artist: FKA Twigs
Song: “Give Up”
Sometimes we need reminders of our priorities. Sometimes they take the form of a dancing woman in white. Whether or not we surrender to these invitations depends on how safe we want to play it.
5. Producer: Jack Forest
Artist: Jack Stauber
Song: “John & Nancy”
These days, paranoia is part of your survival kit. Surely we must have broken the rules. Are those men in black following me?
Another quick spin around the world in the Age of Isolation. Scotland, Shanghai, Australia. We’re going global from the supposed safety of our own homes. And we’re doing it together.
Footnote: We’re still counting the votes for Best Video of 2019, but we’ll have a winner any day now. Stick around!
Signs, signs, everywhere signs
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?
Ever think we’d look at two months ago as “the good old days?”
The “nasty bug” has evolved into an indiscriminate killer, a viral assassin that has the potential to change our world faster than you can say “gesundheit.”
Folks and friends, we’re going into lockdown and hoping for the best. As long as water, food, and visual entertainment are plentiful, then we should have the fortitude to emerge on the other side of this episode as better humans.
Since we’re all going to be riding the couch for a while, how about a challenge? The Brain Trust is currently incubating an idea about a quarantine-themed music video campaign/competition. More about that very soon.
Remember, TikiKiti is the place where we critically examine your Unofficial Music Videos on a sort-of monthly basis, and present the Barclay Trophy to a deserving filmmaker.
Now let us share the bounty of January’s five finest flicks.
1. Producer: Shayan Rahmati
Song: “My Autumn’s Done Come”
We’ve seen these elements before. Multi-speed footage of commuter traffic is nothing new, but set upon a cityscape that appears entirely bereft of humanity drives home a grim point. Shayan Rahmati delivers thoughtful images that just keep unfolding.
2. Producer: Sanne Gunes
Song: “Home II”
In the military, you find reasons to fight. When that’s over, you find a reason to live. The road home can be filled with dangerous missteps, but it’s the people who live there that make it necessary. An exhilarating and poignant creation.
3. Producer: Elio De Filippo
Song: “Running to the Sea”
Can we ever really escape the darkness or is it just another part of the landscape that we have to navigate? And what do we sacrifice to achieve our goals? Keep on running and don’t stop until you get there. Evocative and provocative despite redundancy. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit, and how we often don’t get it right the first time.
4. Producer: Cloud (Lou)
An illustrated and annotated guide to the various self-doubts and anxieties typically found in both adolescence and art, searingly and skillfully revealed by artist/musician Cloud. We will undoubtedly be hearing and seeing more from her.
5. Producer: J Films
Colors, commitment, and choreography rendered without artiface. The editing and unstable framing lend even more movement to an already moving experience.
Have we told you lately that we adore your work and that these intimate glimpses into wildly different cultures make the world a little smaller for everyone?
We’ve been apart for so long. Let’s get together.
We’ve had the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the NBA Slam Dunk competition, but awards season is far from over. The TikiKiti brain trust has decreed that we will presently name the best Unofficial Music Video of 2019, from among our monthly Barclay Award winners.
If you want to send us your valuable opinion or organize an office pool, please do so.
Here are some of the parameters that we consider when rating a video:
1. Production quality: includes cinematography, production design, location and sets.
2. Creativity and Performance: includes acting, costumes, dancing, lip syncing, abstract imagery.
3. Editing: includes cutting to beat and motion, creative editing, fast-paced cutting, image-replacement editing.
Here are your past winners!
Producer: Tanya Kostadinova Artist: Boney M, “Daddy Cool”
Filmmaker Tanya Kostadinova conveys megawatts of sustainable energy with editing that writhes like a second skin to an insidiously bouncy pop tune.
Producer: Ross Reinier Artist: Gary Clark Jr, “Come Together”
Precision cuts combined with a gnarly rock ‘n’ roll insurrection demonstrates the power of attitude over authoritarianism—an emboldened Philippines youth culture is given a glam makeover by Ross Reinier.
Producer: Bhai Log/Team Transformerz Artist: Billie Eilish, “Bury A Friend”
An Indian ghost story about three pals exploring a haunted house set to Billie Eilish’s downbeat dance tune.
Producer: Ido Fruchter Artist: Asaf Avidan & The Mojos, “The Ghost of a Thousand Little Lies”
Director Ido Fruchter has successfully fashioned a marvelous miniature dystopian drama that depicts learning and knowledge as a painful process.
Producer: Derek Newman Artist: Françoise Hardy, “Comment Te Dire, Adieu?”
Derek Newman deliciously blends self-improvement and horror to sensational effect.
Producer: Toey PPS Artist: Arianna Grande, “Bloodline”
Supple editing, a committed performance, and imaginative art direction carried it to the July winner’s circle.
Producer: Kathryn Janko Artist: Solomon Wilbur, “Show Me Love”
A trio of overworked paper-pushers try to smash through the glass ceiling while simultaneously realizing their jobs pretty much suck—a powerful and unsettling message.
Producer: Will Lucas Artist: Arianna Grande, “Sometimes”
Very robust visual storytelling and sensible use of metaphor imagery, e.g., mousetraps, fishing lures, board games.
Producer: Kevin Bodin Artist: Saez, “Les Cours Des Lycées”
The assured craftsmanship exhibited in Kevin Bodin’s provocative video is faultless and hypnotic.
Producer: Nicole Adams Artist: Quinn XCII & Kailee Morgue, “What The Hell Happened To Us?”
A flawless narrative continuum—the lip-synch is tight as a drum and every detail is correctly styled and properly executed.
Producer: Avikbangalee Artist: Disturbed, “The Sounds of Silence”
Equal parts inspiring and visually compelling, this video from Bangladesh shimmers like a neon painting.
Producer: Rank The Lion Artist: Yellow Ostrich, “Whale”
Here’s a budget throwback to music video buffoonery of the highest order.
Okay, you’ve seen the contenders. We’ve assembled an august panel of judges for the occasion, but by all means jump and make yourself heard! Comments, criticism, comedy, controversy… We welcome it all.
Theoretically, it’s Christmas. Now that’s a great song title.
Icebergs are melting, the waters are rising, and there’s a nasty bug going around the office. So let’s bundle up with a hot drink and watch this month’s pageant of Unofficial Music Videos, lovingly created by creative types just like you.
TikiKiti is the place where we rate, curate, and bloviate over videos on a monthly basis, and present the Barclay Trophy to the amateur visual artist with the most promise.
Let’s unwrap our Top Five toys for December.
1. Producer: Tanya Kostadinova
Artist: Boney M
Song: “Daddy Cool”
Bright lights, big city, and girls having naughty fun at a peep show and psychedelic carnival. Tanya Kostadinova conveys megawatts of sustainable energy with editing that writhes like a second skin to an insidiously bouncy pop tune.
2. Producer: Jeff Scher
Artist: Inventing Fire
Utilizing an assortment of animation techniques and effects, producer Jeff Scher explores the allure of the open road, and captures the joy of leaving wreckage (emotional and otherwise) in the rearview.
3. Producer: Vipul Devrani
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “Bury A Friend”
One of the symptoms of being a hardcore Billie Eilish fan is the overwhelming desire to dance in a haunted house. Exorcise the creeps right out of your life and take control.
4. Producer: Corban Phillips
Artist: Tenth Avenue North
When you’re in high school, the need for peer approval can be a necessary evil that seemingly dogs your every step. And everywhere you go—there you are.
5. Producer: Laura Shi & John Huang
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “Bury A Friend”
More friends are buried. The Eilish song acts as a banishment incantation to our own worst tendencies. Spoiler alert: The devil whispering in your ear is you.
This month, it seems the common ground we’re finding is ourselves. Who are we, and do we always have our own best interests at heart? Should we drive away temptation or simply recognize that we occasionally seek the darkness, despite advice from the better angels of our nature?
Getting to the heart of the artist can be a bumpy ride, so buckle up. There be monsters.
“But one lesson I have learned/It’s not to trust you when my back is turned/So don’t be phonin’ tellin’ me you’re blue/cos’ baby I suffer, too/When the night falls/When the night falls.”
Traditionally, this is the time of year that we give thanks for still being here, fogging the mirrors on Planet Earth, the only home we’ve ever known.
It’s a place where visionaries, sullen teens, posh private school kids, and emerging artists from all over the map send us Unofficial Music Videos for perusal and possible praise.
That’s basically it. On a monthly basis, usually rooted in the recent past, we award the Barclay Trophy to the budding auteur whose work knocks our collective socks off.
So without further ado, our Top Five for November.
1. Producer: Ross Reinier
Artist: Gary Clark Jr
Song: “Come Together”
Now this is editing you can dance to! Precision cuts combined with a gnarly rock ‘n’ roll insurrection demonstrates the power of attitude over authoritarianism. We see an emboldened youth culture given a glam makeover by director Ross Reinier. If the kids are united, we will never be divided.
2. Producer: Sean Corbin
Artist: The Struts
Song: “Body Talks”
Great casual choreography and loads of editing flair! It’s a credit to producer Sean Corbin that the video flows like water, never once pausing for breath. This, kids, is showbiz with all the requisite snap, crackle, and pop.
3. Producer: Megan Lang
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “You Should See Me In A Crown”
Our heroine uses secret mystic woman powers to cast off her oppressors—lousy boyfriends, mansplainers, dirty old men—and takes a victory lap. Billie Eilish continues to serve as the patron saint of the Emerging Young Female Empowerment genre.
4. Producer: Kazuhiko Hiromaki
Song: “Namu Amitibul”
Managing to be both austere and vibrant isn’t easy but this one pulls it off. The mood and sound shifts gracefully from surface world sensations to inner turmoil freakout, and it really builds exquisitely.
5. Producer: Latymer Media
Artist: Oli Orson
Song: “Dance With Me Tonight”
Hey kids, let’s put on a show! Can we call this “adorkable” and leave it at that?
More than ever, our video offerings are reflecting the tension and stress that’s become the new normal. And when you can no longer deal with all the hate, corruption, and lies that rain down like a manure typhoon?
You take action and “come together” as we see in the first video. Or dance like there’s no tomorrow—because there may not be.
“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.
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’… somewhere between the present and the future.
I swear, we’re almost there. November is over, the turkey has been snuffed and stuffed. And speaking of overindulging, we’ve got six videos on tap this month, the final two entries were judged a photo finish by our distinguished panel of mimes and marionettes.
As always, the prestigious Barclay Award is presented each month for outstanding achievement in indie video artistry.
The current Top Six feature amazing women who take no shit, a hip-hop horror movie, and “Dolphins On Wheels,” which belongs in a genre all its own.
1. Producer: Unlocked Films
Artist: April March
Song: “Chick Habit”
Pundits and savants are already quaking in fear over the possibility that now is the time that righteous women take back the night and kick ass. We welcome our new witch overlords.
2. Producer: Chris Cotton
Artist: Loyalty Is Timeless
Hip-hop and horror go together like spice on rice. The line between grim reality and mad science is gossamer thin, and we have to stick together against bumps in the night.
3. Producer: Alex Videographie
Artist: Markus Schultz
Song: “We Are The Light”
So, the skateboard is a metaphor for making the best use of the tools around us? Or perhaps the story boils down to showing more respect for the paths taken by others. Anyway, it’s a thought-provoking vignette, shrewdly rendered.
4. Producer: Skinny PM + Mane Precieuse
Artist: Holly Guelce
Song: “Mwen Jenn Manmou”
Dancer Mane Precieuse’s defiant choreography transforms this deceptively simple video into a torch of revolution and release. Our souls are free to dance despite oppression to the body.
5. Producer: Anna Harvey
Song: “Bird Set Free”
A beautiful model has a psychotic break because she’s lost control of her life. The editing contrast between her composed exterior and her fraying grip on reality is frighteningly realized.
5. Producer: Faculty of Art + Design (FAD)
Artist: Kill The Noise + Dillon Francis
Song: “Dolphins On Wheels”
I will never forget where I was when I watched “Dolphins On Wheels.” This video demands your attention and never surrenders. A childish farce that offers a nerd hero who won’t conform, the Faculty of Art and Design have created a very special spectacle that you won’t forget, even if you try.
That’s what we do at TikiKiti: Display Unofficial Music Videos from all corners of the world that wash up on our shore like notes in bottles. Keep sending them, we’re here and loving it.