Back in 2019, I was getting into music video directing and at the same time I wanted to create more work that had ties to my Iranian identity. What better way to collaborate with an Iranian music artist, and to bring something new to the Iranian music video market, which are often near identical copies of Western music videos without much innovation. Around that time I discovered Säye Skye’s music; his vision was fresh and his lyrics were socially conscious, unlike anything I’ve heard in Iranian hip hop. He also has great visual taste and we could collaborate to make something great together. I got to connect with him through Instagram and we soon became good friends. He played some of his upcoming music for me, and ‘ADHD’ caught my attention. It was colourful and upbeat, and touched on themes of mental health that was unheard of in mainstream Iranian media. We were very excited to create something together, and even though our budget was very small (~$500) we wanted to create something exciting and fresh. I had just finished my Masters in Media Production program where I focused on 360/VR filmmaking, and wanted to apply my skillsets to a new project. We had talked about the concept of having multiple versions of Säye perform around the camera point of view, to emulate the experience of someone with Attention Hyperactivity Disorder, where the point of focus is continuously changing. Much of it was inspired by Säye’s own experiences with ADHD, and we wanted to portray it as a superpower. We thought this would be the perfect concept to execute with a 360 camera, where the viewer would embody a first person perspective and the action would happen around them. We would have the camera placed in different locations, where Säye would perform in different angles, and I would stitch the footage together to create a seamless shot. There weren’t any crazy lighting setups because of the 360 shooting aspect, and our equipment was very barebones. The first version of the video we created was 360 video based, where you could move the image around on a screen, or live inside the video with a VR headset. We premiered that version at the Geneva International Film Festival in November 2021, and the response was fantastic, with hundreds of audiences experiencing the piece in VR headsets. However, we felt that because of the VR format, many other audiences weren’t able to properly experience the piece at home, and many festivals couldn’t program it to wider audiences. We were inspired to create a 2D version, with pre-animated camera movements, which resulted in a more cinematic rendition of the project, with simulated zoom-ins, dolly-ins, whip transitions, and so on. Stylistically, the video takes inspiration from a variety of aesthetics. The opening sequence with the UFO entrance comes from our love for science fiction, particularly mid 20th century American sci fi. Many of the video’s elements such as the matrix-like transition that comes after the first scene came to be from pure experimentation in post. Säye would watch the video and would point out any parts that he felt were too slow or boring, and we would find ways to add more and more polish. A sequence in the video portrays Säye inside 1970s Iranian cartoons that were created as part of the “Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Adolescent”. We are very excited about this, because it’s a way to pay homage to some of the lost work from renowned Iranian filmmakers such as Abbas Kiarostami, as well as to convey a taboo-breaking rendition of these children’s cartoons with modern themes of dealing with mental health. Our goal was to create a visual experience that both Farsi and non-Farsi speaking audiences can engage and connect with, and hope you enjoy the piece!
Sina Dolati is an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada and born in Rasht, Iran. He’s passionate about telling personal stories through musically driven films, whether it is narratives, commercials, or music videos, often through a lens of dark comedy or science fiction. Playing around with new forms of media like VR, and getting crazy with post-production techniques as an editor, have also become part of his signature. Sina also finds joy in exploring cultural themes related to his Iranian identity whenever he can. Sina’s recent projects include music videos for Juno-winning Indigenous electronic band The Halluci Nation (formerly A Tribe Called Red), a music video for Big Wreck / Warner Music Canada, and the music video ADHD (Säye Skye) which was an Official Selection at international festivals such as Florida Film Festival (Academy Award Qualifying), Shiny Awards, Directors Notes and Berlin Commercial (Direction category). Sina holds an MA in Media Production from Ryerson University, where he explored immersive filmmaking.