TikiKiti Awards: September


We’re having a nice trip this Fall. How about you?

It’s back to school time for many of our young filmmakers, who routinely send out their student productions for a little extra credit. And we’re honored to bring these scholarly efforts to a wider audience to discuss the juicy bits.

This month’s Top Five definitely made it a September to Remember.

1. Producer: Oregan Izak
Artist: Confidence Man
Song: “Boyfriend”
Category: Narrative

Cool and confident, as only a pair of frightfully fashionable British teens can be, the sullen protagonists artfully air their grievances against a Basic Cable boyfriend. Another repeat episode.

2. Producer: Mitchel Federan
Artist: Billie Eilish
Song: “You Should See Me In A Crown”
Category: Performance

The editing is spot-on and the dancing Mihacevich sisters are 100 percent committed to the visceral and decidedly anti-glamor choreography.

3. Producer: Maxime Sauvant
Artist: Jett
Song: “Take It Easy”
Category: Performance

The colors and exotic locations really pop in Maxime Sauvant’s languorous short, a visual postcard from a tantalizing Twilight Zone.

4. Producer: Jesse Jenner
Artist: Jaws
Song: “Right In Front Of Me”
Category: Narrative

A potent pastiche of imagery accompanies this moody bit of Brit-pop, reminiscent of MTV’s glory days more than 30 years ago. Echo and the Bunnymen? Thompson Twins? They never left.

5. Producer: Malachite Mangusu
Artist: Mystery Skulls
Song: “Losing My Mind”
Category: Narrative

Another troubled teen finds his senses working overtime when he hits the reality wall and slips through the cracks.

From big-budget bonanzas to strapped students testing the limits of their ingenuity, we are continually amazed by the depth and dimensional thinking of our international video artists. Buckle up, boys and girls, this is getting good.

TikiKiti Awards: August

Summer’s over…

Or is it? We’re still in the Dog Days here at TikiKiti HQ, sorting out the latest crop of UMVs (Unofficial Music Videos) that we’ve been carefully drying in the sun until we can harvest a full spectrum of delicious, nutritious ART.

Behold, our Top Five for August.

1. Director: Eva Berbel
Artist: Cardi B + Bad Bunny + J Balvin
Song: “I Like It”
Category: Performance

Supertight choreography, a healthy wardrobe budget, and spot-on direction from Eva Berbel, who serves up a densely layered hip-hop Busby-Berkeley swimming pool fantasy.

2. Producer: Johnny Copter
Artist: Morgan Page
Song: “Running Wild”
Category: Verite

Johnny Copter’s vibrant photography makes “Running Wild” a soaring visual odyssey that plays like Wes Anderson’s audition reel for Nike. Moving pictures, indeed!

3. Producer: Yardley Estiverne
Artist: Amy Vachal
Song: “Field Sense”
Category: Performance

This black-and-white tone poem features a veiled woman with mountain goat horns meandering through a church, and it breathes with a confessional intimacy.

4. Producer: Marty Rait + Angelina Lobanova
Artist: 100 Monkeys
Song: “LDF”
Category: Narrative

An attractive couple moodily explore the boundaries of their relationship, again in glorious black and white.

5. Producer: Perpetual Goose
Artist: Aphex Twin
Song: “54 Cymru Beats”
Category: Abstract

This near seizure-inducing driving collage could probably reprogram an entire cult of brainwashed acolytes into functional citizens. Or send them off the deep end.

You folks are killing it. Every day we see things that we’ve never imagined. Curious dreams, romantic vignettes, nervous puzzles, cathartic explosions… an ever-widening continuum of aspirational wonder and experience from all corners of the planet.

This is our jam. Welcome.

TikiKiti Awards: July


Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lie, welcome to the month of July!

The margins continue to get narrower in our TikiKiti judge jams. In the latest round of tabulations we came up with a three-way tie for fourth place, which means this is another Bonus Content post! Six videos! Can you believe it? Keep feeling fascination, everybody!

1. Director: TheArtElaquare
Artist: Marina & The Diamonds
Song: “Teen Idle”
Category: Mashup

Is that cat real? We’d be lion if we said we were unimpressed by the presence of the King of Beasts. Photoshop or Rent-A-Critter? In addition to Simba, the judges were fairly floored by the seamless editing and sumptuous visual choices.

2. Producer: Smith Video Productions
Artist: Gallant
Song: “Weight In Gold”
Category: Performance

Powerhouse choreography and nimble camerawork are all you need to make a statement. Dancer Chaos Omnivox has enough power to light up a small country.

3. Producer: Anders Overgaard
Artist: Alan Walker
Song: “Spectre”
Category: Narrative

Love is a silly game… Until it isn’t. A surprisingly enjoyable romantic drama deftly rendered.

4. Producer: Ilker Toy
Artist: Dredg
Song: “Down To The Cellar”
Category: Narrative

There’s definitely a vibrant international flavor this month, and Turkish scenarist Ilker Toy has no problem imagining a world of possibilities.

4. Producer: The Gurung Group
Artist: Phosphenes
Song: “Know This Time”
Category: Narrative

Genuine poignancy is hard to pull off, but the Gurung Family (siblings?) makes it look easy in an artfully moving short from Nepal.

4. Producer: Silens Films/Oshin
Artist: Daughter
Song: “Still”
Category: Narrative

Identity and familial conflict are prevalent themes in Unofficial Music Videos from anywhere on the planet. Figuring out how and where to put your best foot forward can take time.

Questions? Comments? Clarification? Send ’em our way! Nothing makes our day more than original correspondence from actual people. Call us crazy, but sorting out spam is a lonely business.

The Winner’s Circle

As promised, we’re going to spotlight the creative efforts from our last three Barclay Award winners (there was a tie in June, hence two winners) and isolate some of the singular elements that contributed to their victories.

Director: Roma Kong
Artist: Lady Gaga
Song: “Bloody Mary”
Category: Narrative

It’s not always necessary to make a spectacle, but here director Roma Kong successfully crafts a big-budget blockbuster that cunningly combines costumed pageantry with a horror movie sensibility.

The madhouse setting is reminiscent of the Peter Weiss play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. Like its thematic predecessor, the narrative illustrates the fundamental divide between the idea of helping or “rehabilitating” humanity versus simply exploiting our suffering for the entertainment of others.

The presence of a Jesus and a Mary Magdalene embodies the conflict of divine aspirations with all-too-human desires, and the result is madness, apparently. The burden of creating art and images that stand on their own is simply too much for ordinary mortals. A once noble vision is transformed into something grotesque, a horrific symbol of our inability to grasp what’s truly important.

Director: Román Reyes
Artist: Oh Wonder
Song: “Technicolour Beat”
Category: Performance

Now this is a performance video, perhaps the best we’ve seen. Román Reyes takes a very different approach to storytelling and boils it all down to the artful positioning of dancer Nora Peinador in a number of shimmering tableaux—and it succeeds brilliantly.

We often bandy the term “commitment” when reviewing our videos and here is a sterling case in point. The subtle movements of Ms. Peinador are in stark contrast to King’s Freak Show cabaret, but no less expressive, as each gesture is delivered from the soul, and carries myriad meanings.

In the hands of artists like Reyes and Peinador, we get dozens of stories for the price of one. By turns hypnotic, sensual, and heartbreaking, “Technicolor Beat” is a seamless, moving objet d’art that requires neither context nor wardrobe.

Producer: Miguel Angel
Artist: Brockhampton
Song: “Sister/Nation”
Category: Narrative

Thanks to the magic of algorithms, TikiKiti attracts a whopping number of international student videos, most of which are meditations on the mundane aspects of adolescent existence.

I personally have watched several dozen short films that include scenes of students waking up, brushing their teeth, and gathering their backpacks for school.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with verisimilitude. After all, we tell what we know, right? But you have to ask yourself at some point in the process: is this a story worth telling? Does my ambivalence about reality transcend the form and actually resonate on some level?

Director Miguel Angel pulls off a rare feat by ingeniously parodying the typical student video of kids goofing their way through some badass hip-hop tune to mostly comic effect. This is just the setup before the rug gets yanked out from under us.

Angel, whose man-crush on director Quentin Tarantino is apparent from the opening credits, ramps up the danger level significantly and soon we’re not sure what we’re watching. Our silly teen protagonists have gone for a joyride and seemingly gotten themselves into a world of grownup trouble, where actions have consequences.

Angel and his actors have provided us with an apt metaphor for onset adulthood, one filtered through a cinematic filter. It’s a time when life transitions from a teen comedy into a gritty action flick.

TikiKiti Awards: June

And all too soon, we find ourselves in the month of June. Our TikiKiti Quest to catch up to the present day in pursuit of video excellence rolls on! Tickets please!

Perhaps in anticipation of hotly contested political races to come, the voting for the Barclay Trophy, our award for best Unofficial Music Video of the month, has become extremely competitive. This time around we had a tie for first place and fourth place, so we will be featuring six videos instead of the usual five. Hurray for Bonus Content!

1. Director: Román Reyes
Artist: Oh Wonder
Song: “Technicolour Beat”
Category: Performance

One of the coolest performance videos we’ve seen. Roman Reyes has a deft eye for angular intimacy and his dancing muse brings every moment to a simmer.

1. Producer: Miguel Angel
Artist: Brockhampton
Song: “Sister/Nation”
Category: Narrative

At first glance, this would appear to be another variation on the ever-popular video theme of bad boys being bad at nighttime. Migeul Angel masterfully enhances the action with cinematic flair and drama, and gets committed performances from his youthful squad.

2. Producer: Nassift Visuals
Artist: Ft. Illenium
Song: “Leaving”
Category: Abstract

Extraordinary composed parkour choreography that fits the tear-jerk tune like a tailored glove. It’s a bracing mix of reckless energy and ultimate precision.

3. Producer: Szymon Wiktor
Artist: Clean Bandit
Song: “Symphony”
Category: Narrative

A confident, highly competent production from Szymon Wiktor that demonstrates abundant vision and finesse.

4. Producer: Yannick Walters
Artist: Red
Song: “Imposter”
Category: Narrative

A taunting ghost fills him with rage. And just like that, he’s lost the game. A tightly wound and surprisingly effective narrative by Yannick Walters and his team.

4. Producer: Luke Covert
Artist: The Wild Wild
Song: “Wake Up”
Category: Performance

Sound and solid performance editing by Luke Covert, but the real star of the show is the ruined school location and the bittersweet memories it inspires.

Coming up: A deep-dive feature on the winning videos from May and June. What was it about these shorts that added up to a winning formula? It’s not always always the flashiest extravaganza with the trickiest camera angels. Until then, keep ’em coming!

TikiKiti Awards: May

Is it May already? Wow, this year is just flying by! Let’s synchronize those calendars, shall we?

This brings us to the latest Top Five, which includes some seriously cinematic efforts in the Narrative category.

You know the drill: Five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may select the coveted Barclay trophy or a gift card as a testament to their vision and skill. More about the awards.

And to our five May creatives, we’re just doggone thrilled to showcase your incredible work. Encore!

1. Director: Roma Kong
Artist: Lady Gaga
Song: “Bloody Mary”
Category: Narrative

Possibly the most sophisticated video we’ve seen in terms of production values and high-stakes concepts, Roma Kong has the visual sensibility to be a big name in any number of fields.

2. Producer: Sarah Maggic
Artist: Stephen
Song: “Play Me Like A Violin”
Category: Narrative

Domination, submission, and identity are some of the thematic forces at play in Sarah Maggic’s well-executed short.

3. Producer: Anna Hicks
Artist: Guap
Song: “Yaeji”
Category: Abstract

We dug this strobe-soaked club-thumper that reduces the mating dance to its most essential impulses, some of which may be in direct conflict.

4. Producer: Yap Manloong
Artist: Paperplane Pursuit
Song: “Who’s Gonna To Stop Me”
Category: Narrative

Evolving, growing, and reshaping itself before our wide eyes, Yap Manloong’s video is a wonder to behold. Uncanny animation and a playful spirit permeate every frame.

5. Producer: Maya Cooper
Artist: Baz Luhrmann
Song: “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen”
Category: Narrative

Words to live by. A fascinating deconstruction of a graduation speech loaded with intuitive narrative imagery.

Let’s make a pact: You keep sending videos and we’ll do our best to give them the attention they so richly deserve. Aloha!

TikiKiti Awards: April

Here we go, a fresh batch of UMV’s piping hot, straight from the oven.

We’re not April Fooling you, we’re still a little behind the times. These five videos came up tops for the month of April.

To briefly recap, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may select a unique trophy or gift card as a testament to their skill and creativity. More about the awards.

And to our quintet of April video artists, well done!

1. Producer: Andrey Gorlachev
Artist: Emika
Song: “Sleep With My Enemies”
Category: Narrative

Wow! This cyber-surveillance creeper from Andrey Gorlachev eerily captures the times we live in, as mounting paranoia and a lack of privacy inspire outbreaks of desperate dance. Rich in detail and masterfully presented.

2. Producer: Jonathan Brent
Artist: Jai Paul
Song: “BTSTU”
Category: Abstract

A near sensory overload as modern man, depicted here as a featureless mannequin, attempts to reboot the system. Moments of clarity are rudely jarred away.

3. Producer: Paula Averkamp
Artist: Patrick Watson
Song: “Lighthouse”
Category: Narrative

Memories or just a Virginia Woolf dream? Paula Averkamp’s cinematic Day at the Beach reverie is radiant and ravishing, with a bittersweet undercurrent of innocence lost.

4. Producer: Leon Falon
Artist: Aphex Twin
Song: “We Have Arrived”
Category: Abstract

Call it a barrage collage. A short circus, maybe. Anyone suffering from Seizure Disorder should look the other way.

5. Producer: Ginie’O
Artist: Switchfoot
Song: “Skin and Bones”
Category: Véreté

A beautiful cache of Paris travelogue footage in the hands of Ginie’O tells a thousand stories at a thousand different tempos.

Thanks again on behalf of TikiKiti for the amazing gallimaufry of musical shorts. It is the wind beneath our wings.

Keep the videos flying!

Artist Profile: Joseph Hyrkas

As the quantity and complexity of Unofficial Music Videos continue to evolve right before our blinking eyes, the cats at TikiKiti want to ensure that proper attention is paid to the burgeoning ranks of creative artists that manage to blow us away on a daily basis.

Joseph Hyrkas directed the most recent video to take home the coveted TikiKiti Award for Excellence. Set to the song “Falls” by Odesza, Hyrkas has conjured an absorbing black-and-white reverie about love and loss.

The winning filmmaker was kind enough to answer a barrage of questions about his production, process, and past.

Can you tell us about your film and production background? Are you a pro, student, hobbyist?

Definitely not a hobbyist, not quite a pro, but certainly always a student.

I’m 30 years old and currently operate an independent videography/post production business out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Most of my work affords me the opportunity to travel making music videos, promotionals, and commercials.

Describe your conceptual process in regards to the Odesza “Falls” video.

I start by creating a rule set with limitations, which I then cling to like a religious fanatic! The goal was to keep it simple, intimate, sincere, and emotional. In every single case I start with asking how and why.

How do I visually represent a character’s emotional state of mind that is cyclical, divisive, and potentially self-destructive? How do I interpret that through framing, movement, perspective, and editing patterns? What is dictating that cut?

If we do cut, whose perspective is it? The character’s or the viewer’s? When is it objective? When is it subjective and why? If any creative decision that follows can’t answer or support these questions, then it’s not worth pursuing.

Doing something “cool” for the sake of it often leads to dead ends. In my experience, having that crucial foundation in place helps free up an actor and helps them cross a chasm of confidence to lay their soul on display for all to view. At the end of the day, the question really should be, “did you feel anything watching it?”

I love the stark tones you get in the video. What inspired you to shoot in black and white?

I could say, “Well, color is emotion. Anyone that far down the emotional rabbit hole clearly wouldn’t see the world in color!” But in all honesty, the tight shooting schedule didn’t afford us the luxury of proper lighting and production uniformity.

These constraints backed us into B&W photography for simplicity’s sake. Deciding on that tranquil hue of B&W early in the process eliminated a whole slew of problems from the production.

What was your gear setup?

Another self-imposed limitation was to use very little gear for this project. No dolly, drones, toys or gadgets. Just a single BMC (rarely two for safety). Breaking out the occasional ND, LOW CON filter, tripod and available light. If we couldn’t make this work emotionally with one camera than we weren’t doing the job correctly.

I love the discipline of committing to a particular frame size and focal length. For post-production we used the always reliably buggy, but equally efficient ADOBE PREMIERE. The goal in post? Manipulate time, action and emotion like a rubber band. Compress when it’s convenient and contract when it’s necessary.

Who are some artists (any discipline) you admire or are inspired by and why?

I’m sure recently obsessing over [French-Canadian filmmaker] Denis Villeneuve [Sicario, Blade Runner 2049], and his devastating masterpiece Incendies (2011) didn’t dissuade me at all. If you haven’t seen it I insist you drop everything and watch it now.

In this case, I was certainly taking my marching orders from storytellers who are not afraid to squeeze mileage out of seemingly mundane situations. Reynolds Woodcock ordering that absurd breakfast in Phantom Thread, anyone?

Do you have any sage advice for the young and hopeful?

I can only preach what has worked for me. All I can say is maintain vigilance, persistence, and patience, followed by more patience. Make every single mistake you can imagine, you’ll still be alive at the end of the day. Tell a story only you can tell. And while you’re at it stick to your intuition.

If you find yourself having conversations about what other people may think, just know deep down that it if means something emotionally to you it will mean something for others. Creative Darwinism will win out. Chic and fashionable will not. Never ever chase trends because something is in vogue. It’s not about world domination, start by making people “feel” first.

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TiKiKiti Awards: III

Once more into the fray…

Time marches on, which brings us to the month of March, and a whole new assemblage of Unofficial Music Videos for consideration.

In case you’re just joining us, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may select a superb trophy or gift card as a testament to their skill and creativity. More about the awards.

Now, on with the show! Meet our Minds of March!

1. Producer: Joseph Hyrkas
Artist: Odesza
Song: “Falls”
Category: Narrative

Deceptively simple and deeply sincere, producer Joseph Hyrkas relies on soulful lingering shots of a beautiful woman to tell this tale of heartache.

2. Producer: Aaron Vizcarra
Artist: 2PAC & LA
Song: “Vicca Street”
Category: Abstract

The wonders never cease in a kaleidoscopic slice of cyber surrealism from producer Aaron Vizacarra and director Stephen Gillis.

3. Producer: kayanoel
Artist: Julie Aznar
Song: “In the Middle of the Night”
Category: Performance

Commitment, clever choreography, and breathtaking location photography are on display in kayanoel’s moody performance piece.

4. Producer: Naomi Kirk-Muir
Artist: Mother Mother
Song: “Happy”
Category: Narrative

Heck, it’s hard (probably impossible) to be endlessly happy. Naomi Kirk-Muir cuts to the heart behind the masks we have to wear in this somber collage.

5. Producer: Obiet Mantovani
Artist: The Chainsmokers
Song: “All We Know”
Category: Narrative

Again, simplicity and lack of pretense carries the day in a stirring story of rocky romance.

Slowly but surely we are creating a structure and process for emerging video artists to exhibit their work. We’re pleased to see so many fresh and fantastic approaches to the form, as it gives us plenty to talk about.

Till next time! Keep those videos coming!

The TikiKiti Awards: February

And the hits keep coming.

In a valiant attempt to sort through a massive stack of entries in record time, we’re now ready to recognize the Top 5 Videos from February of this year.

Perhaps at some point in this timeline, we’ll be all caught-up, but sadly we have not yet been replaced self-charging, super-intelligent robots. It’s in next year’s budget, and we remain confident that human error will soon be a thing of the past.

As always, five artists are honored, and the monthly high scorer may choose an enviable trophy or gift card as signifiers of their superior work.  More about the awards. 

Cue the fanfare, here are the Top 5 Videos of the month (February), in order from first to fifth.

1. Producer: amzproductions2010
Artist: X
Song: The Have Nots
Category: Narrative

A deft and multilayered approach to the narrative genre, the team at amzproductions2010 delivers a stylishly fascinating depiction of a compartmentalized human psyche. Bonus points for good taste in classic L.A. punk.

2. Producer: Erin McAuley and Charlie Jennings
Artist: Dua Lipa
Song: New Rules
Category: Performance

Producers McAuley and Jennings maintain visual symmetry with a brisk editing pace and an impressive array of carefully crafted images.

3. Producer: TinyComet Films
Artist: Alan Walker
Song: The Spectre
Category: Performance

It’s a terrific dance performance, but the folks at TinyComet Films effortlessly fashion a cinematically rich post-apocalyptic canvas for the choreography.

4. Producer: Finlay McDonald
Artist: Mura Masa
Song: Love$ick
Category: Narrative

Risking possible damnation by inspiring teenage actors to drink “booze” and monkey around in church, Finlay McDonald is clearly a fearless filmmaker.

5. Producer: ChewValley Media
Artist: Lorde
Song: Team
Category: Narrative

Cops and robbers, chase scene, and a “crime doesn’t pay” finale. The ChewValley Media crew displays ample camera chops and editing precision in this dancing delinquent drama.