Thursday, October 22, 2009

Susie and Jessie Create Bad Shoes

My dear friend Susie is getting married in Vegas this weekend, and to celebrate i want to share one of her music videos that i think absolutely belongs in the - wow i have such talented friends categories.

The video is for "Bad Shoes" by Dagger Lees, created by Directing/Editing/Writing Duo Susie and Jessie (Susie Morrell, Jessie Ward). Check it out and see below for a little background info from Sue on the concept and the creative process.

The Dagger Lees - Bad Shoes from jessie ward on Vimeo.

What came first the medium or the concept? Did you have the camera and want to experiment or did the inspiration for the look of the film come directly from the song/artist?

The whole thing was inspired by a dress! Donna, the lead singer, found this amazing vintage Victorian nightgown and from that they were inspired to make a video for their upcoming single that evoked a similar menacing, old time air. Well, I guess a nightgown isn't menacing but it's still a little decrepit and creepy! We like the idea of making videos that look vintage themselves and we all decided to make the film look like it was shot entirely on super8 (we both have our super8s and love them, but budget constraints - and practicality - make producing music vids on super8 basically impossible for us).

I love the use of the iconic villain from the silent era. Can you tell me a little about the story line and where it came from?

Once we had the visual motif in mind, we decided to cast each band member as a unique character. Donna was the little girl lost in a nightmare set in the forest. Grum (guitarist) was the pied piper villain. Benni (bass) was the living doll gone mad, breaking her dolls (possibly a little girl lost herself who never made it out of the woods). And Justin (drums) is the odd man in the background who digs graves and plays with clocks.

We came from the visual first - the characters, their individual locations in the woods, the props they held and their costumes, and from that formed the loose plot of a our girl waking up in the woods, disoriented and without her way, befriending a little boy who, unbeknownst to her, is actually in cahoots with the Bad Man in the Top Hat. [Oh, another tidbit, the little boy is Donna's real life son, Steven.]

The use of color or lack of it is obviously very deliberate - anything you want to say about that decision? (aside from the fact the red lips pop amazingly among the desaturated film!)

Thanks! Yes, originally, it was to be all black and white. Then we tried sepia. Then as we were playing with the footage, we watched Donna's singing parts in oversaturated color and thought she looked amazing and that it would be a shame to lose all that color. So a happy accident really! Some parts (like her being tied to the tree) were filmed during a wintry sunset and the sunlight was unbelievable. We decided a happy medium of the cold, old film look in some scenes and the overblown color in others was a little risk we wanted to take. Call it indecision, we think it adds another layer visually. It also adds a little more dreamlike, home movie meets nightmare quality to it. At least we like to think so.

What's in the box!?

A lamb's heart. They were out of pig that day. It was my job to go buy it. The things I do for our projects!

Compared to the other videos the two of you have created this one stands out in tone I think. Do you aim to be diverse or is your style more circumstantial? Is this a look you'd like to explore further?

The variation in tone from project to project is both circumstantial - the artists we've worked with so far and perhaps most importantly their non-existent budgets - as well as our completely all-over-the-place personal preferences. Clearly, we both LOVE silent movies, super8 films, nostalgia, vintage imagery, experimental cinema, abstraction. We are also interested in technology and using that to create interesting art, hence our dabbling in somewhat "techy" looking video effects on the Neosupervital vid, which suited that band's synth-pop style. I think it's a coincidence that the majority of bands we've made videos with so far are into making stuff look old, but it's a coincidence that suits our interests too. (And actually, ever since the Dagger Lee video, everyone seems to say they want a super8 looking video like that one!)

How do you and Jesse work together...does one of you tend to be more involved with the talent while the other with the camera for instance or is it a full on collaboration in all aspects?

Definitely a total collaboration. Jessie would have been more into the technical side of film school at NYU (she intended initially to become a cinematographer) while I was more interested in writing. Seems we've both ended up in the directing arena, but our two distinct jumping off points in studying film is probably the reason we both like to come up with the ideas, shoot, direct and edit simultaneously. I think we've both mixed nicely as well in that we both collaborate creatively on each project, while both manning the camera (I'm always trying to become more technically adept). It also helps that we're very close friends - I'm sure not many directors are able to share camera and directing duties, then sit in front of an editing suite for days on end without killing each other! We find it fun, if exhausting.

Check out more work from Susie and Jessie here