My music video: Unbreakable

(or view on YouTube)

This is my first music video made for LA-based band Gunslinger, filmed on location in one day, in Ashdown Forest in Kent and an abandoned house in East Sussex.

This video was originally planned and filmed for Gunslinger’s track Run for your life. But it was in editing, one night in the early stages, that I realised the visuals’ affinity to Unbreakable: a deeper and more haunting piece with sounds perfectly suited to the editing I wanted to do.

The making of the Unbreakable video

Matthew and I planned, styled and shot this together, and afterwards I did most editing but he also contributed. Planning the video, the first thing we thought was that we wanted to film the model running. Stealthy, game, and brazen, the first model that came to mind was redhead Grace Gray who had modelled at one of our production shoots.

We thought immediately of the Ashdown Forest near to where we lived, and then built round that idea by planning to revisit an abandoned house in which we’d shot before, which could represent the ‘falling down’ elements of the music, and provide an interesting diverse element from the rural running shots. From there emerged the idea of a split Grace, neatly harking back to my multiplicity images: one woman within the house, the other running. I wanted the video to be symbolic and abstract which would also allow us to potentially wash over any mistakes we might make with this being our first proper video. Matthew was particularly good with the styling as he was the one who spied two dresses in Snoopers Paradise in Brighton: a red dress and also what looked like a big white blancmange.

Although we planned the location, outfits, and an idea of the visuals and mood, we did not storyboard the video. I wanted to approach the video with some of the whimsy of my photography workflow and knew I would not be able to pin down the final product till I filmed it, and then played with it in editing. I was excited to find that I was able to do various ’special effects’ just in the cutting. I then used Adobe AfterEffects for Curves adjustments, as well as the final scene merge.


References from my own work:

Above: An impromptu performance

Above: Jane

And also these videos in mind:

Rossina Bossio’s Holy Beauty project (mainly the fast editing)

Christina Aguilera ‘Fighter’ video (use of creepiness, outfit movement, notion of emergence with the chrysalis theme)

The film has turned out to have various symbolism for me personally. It’s always so completing to feel that way about a creation especially when shooting another model (as opposed to myself). The girl trapped in the withering house surrounded by books vs a component part or version of her running in the outside world… also the imagery of a burnt house in which a character is perishing/has perished…

What I think worked the best: the frenetic veiled Grace (my main love when I first started editing it), and other creepy movements we managed to make Grace do inside the house before the police turned up; managing to shape a ’story’ from an unstoryboarded and limited amount of footage; a day of reliable natural sunlight (which we waited weeks for) boosted with a reflector; and the edited sequences of shots that worked together, which repeatedly parallels the girl in red to the girl in white, with synergy to the track’s sounds (in different ways throughout the song).

Challenges/things to be improved: continuity of lighting; some jerkiness of camera movement because of limited tripod equipment; challenges with the focus abilities of HD video on the 5DMkII; my direction of the running Grace in red – sometimes looking self-conscious or too cautious; having enough engaging material to fill 5 mins – what is quite a long time for the attention span of people online (which this video is primarily made for); and of course any amount of improvement on the filming and editing. But the film is what it is, and I am proud of what we made in the circumstances.

It is so liberating to express through the moving image and with music. I can’t wait to progress and try make more, more and more videos. I love being able to captivate more of the senses for physical duration and play with motion and sequence. But it’s so important to not just say that, but go do it. So less blogging, more doing…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in Collaborations & commissions, Movies/audio on August 15th, 2011 | 4 Comments |

«       »

Comments for “My music video: Unbreakable”

    1. Lash LaRue
      7:37 pm on August 15th, 2011

      Fascinating to see this new direction for you. And I also see a continuity on some fundamentals (stylish nature; color palette; use of light). So I await the forthcoming with high hopes.

    2. Bradford
      12:55 am on August 16th, 2011

      You should be proud. Congrats and kudos. Your “continuity” with motion and movement was actually quite good, but with the lighting … I agree it could have been improved on.

      Good luck! I hope you progress many, many, many times more too! This was a treat for a first time filmmaker and yes, you should be VERY proud of yourself. Keep up the good works.



    3. Tim
      12:51 pm on August 16th, 2011

      Dreadful Muse-meets-Eurohouse nonsense. Consequently I can’t take the video seriously. It’s good to try new stuff but be careful with your choice of artist.

    4. jestem
      7:40 am on August 17th, 2011

      This is nice, Nat. I hope you continue. It is not pretentious which is always great to see. There is not a whole lot of refinement in technique or semiotics but there also is nothing particularly wrong with the video. As with your photography I think if you keep producing you will end up creating something very special.

    Leave a comment