How did the concept evolve for Take Me Over?
I was just looking around online when I came across this image. There wasn’t any context to it when I found it, so I started to wonder what kind of character would go out and build something like that. When I heard Cut Copy’s song, I felt it was talking about youth and trying to discover who you are, so I immediately thought that pairing these two ideas would make a fun video. For a long time, it was a story about a boy getting beat up and then getting revenge. But one day I remember thinking, “how much more interesting would this be if it was a story about girls?”
Strong narratives win over band performances in our books any day. Did you work closely with the band or did they give your free creative reign?
The band had no idea I made the video! I did it on spec because I thought it was one of the best songs from their Zonoscope album. I think they shot a video for it, but it ended up getting shelved for whatever reason. It deserved a video though, so I got some talented people together and we made one.
What has the reaction been to the video? Does the band like it?
From what I hear from their managers, the band loves the video. The funny thing is that tech sites like Gizmodo and io9 have been promoting the video more than your typical music sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum. It was even shown in some schools for its bullying message. I love that, though. Keith Schofield, another amazing video director, once gave me some advice to never make a video that will only be liked by fans of the band. And ever since, I’ve tried to write treatments that would appeal to broader audiences.
The urban landscapes are appropriately empty and rather desolate. Where did you find the location?
I shot this video in Chicago before I moved out to LA. Most of this video was shot out in the West Loop, a meat packing district that empties out on the weekends. Since we were working without permits, I knew no one would bother us if we shot here. I love how old Chicago it feels.
The model outfit is a masterpiece, how did that evolve?
I originally imagined the costume being over 6 feet tall. We would have a stunt guy on jumping stills inside of it and then shoot the girl separately as if she was in a control room. But working on a shoe-string budget, this was becoming a nightmare. So when I was working with the production designer, Katie Isaacson, we one day came up with the idea to just put the girl in the suit. I had a basic idea what it would look like, but Katie added all small details that really made the suit impressive.
And were there any major challenges during the production?
Being made out of only cardboard and hot glue, the costume kept ripping and falling off. On top of that, it wasn’t that comfortable to wear. But I don’t think Maisie, the lead, complained once.
Tell us about ONEADAY your photography project which we show in Related Content.
I saw a few artists like Brock Davis and my friend Amanda Blake doing projects where they tried to create something every day for a year. I wondered if I could to the same. It’s a daunting task not creating bullshit day after day. It wasn’t easy – all my camera gear was stolen out of my car one week – but it really helped me understand what I find visually exciting. I guess that involves a lot of detached body parts.
On the radar right now, I’ve been working on a new video for the band The Hunting Accident as well as a commercial for a social media site. Both have concepts that I’m super excited about. We reached the tech crowd this time, but, who knows, maybe these will pop up on Japanese game show blogs.
And where are you based?
I went to school at Northwestern University up in Chicago and afterwards ended up staying for a bit to experience city life and concentrate on developing the type of videos that I wanted to make. LA has always been on my radar and I knew I would always end up out here.
Signed, unsigned, looking?
I’m unsigned, but it’s been my dream for some time now to sign with a production company. When I was in school, I interned with Caviar Content and fell head over heels in love with the commercial industry. People were so open to answer questions and teach me the ins and outs of what makes and breaks great spots.
Right now, I’m the Post Coordinator at Uber Content, which has just made me fall in love with the industry even more. I couldn’t have asked for better mentors and supervisors.
Right now, Plan A is to make great content that people want to watch and hopefully someone will notice. I’ve never entered anything I’ve made into big film festivals. For someone relatively new to directing like myself, the internet has been key in seeing what works and what falls flat on its face. And, like any director, a lot of my early work fell on its face and was beaten to death in the comment section. But, in my opinion, that taught me more than any rejection letter from a film festival.