Music Videos and Experimental Cinema

My love of experimental film and surrealist cinema would fill a list longer than my blog will ever be, but Meya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Sergei Parajanov, Jaromil Jires’s 1960s surrealist gem Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Installation artist Pipilotti Rist, and Jean Luc Godard are a few of my favorites. I have started to work on experimental films and music videos in conjunction with my songs. My first film is a collaboration with Nick Duffy which explores the nature of performance in short films. It started out as an experiment on a mobile phone a year ago. I wanted to see how good the video quality was so I put on one of my favorite obscure 60s songs, Flowers by Ferris Wheel (impossible to find on vinyl), and danced away.

Just recently I found this bit of bogus footage and we decided to play with it. We filmed the sequence onto tape and put it back onto digital which altered the texture dramatically. We also extracted the music. It was interesting at this point because without without the blended synchronizaton of motion and music it became more documentary in style, a sort of memory from the past, rather than a dance. The mood changed to something more melancholy and nostalgic without the music.

The idea at this point was to experiment with some of my songs. The ones that were most in sync looked the most uniform and conventional. Just a figure dancing to music again. It was the pieces where there wasn’t strict synchronicity that were the most interesting. In the end we decided to use One Snowflake where the movement falls in and out of time, and the mood of the music and the mood of the dancer are very different. This disjunction between the dancer and the music creates a feeling of two places in time; past and present, and induces a feeling of memory and nostalgia as if looking back at the footage at a later time with reflective eyes and observing this lost fragment of happiness from the past.

Working this way round, the visuals first and then adapting the music was an interesting way to work rather than creating visuals for the music. Closer to the way films are made than music videos. Our next film approaches it the other way round. The more traditional way. More coming soon…

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