You’ve made it! the NPR premiere of If I Be Wrong, directed by me and starring Wolf Larsen drops today.
my little statement I had to write for NPR:
My dear friend and anti-muse Wolf Larsen asked me to make a music video for her. It was nerve-wracking. In the four years I’ve known her, I’ve heard about the most impressive feats by some of her closest friends, many of which through traditional news outlets. Her friends make the TED Conference look like The Gathering of Juggalos1, and I know for a fact that she’s got at least ten filmmakers ready to knock a music video out of the park for her. I specialized in Hong Kong style fight choreography and naturally-lit food cinematography, neither of which grabbed her. She asked if I was up for a seven-and-a-half minute number titled “If I Be Wrong”, a song about a complicated breakup, honoring the confusion, second guessing, and the ultimate trigger-pulling that breakups were made of. I’d only been in one relationship in my whole life, and that one lasted maybe four weeks, with a very happy and amiable end, but I’d read a few novels and had a functional grasp of what she was talking about.
This much I knew: I wasn’t going to take this one easy. A tough song about a tough breakup dictated a tough shoot. I had the elements lined up against me – the length of the song, the lack of any budget, the quick turnaround, the total unavailability of the singer – I had no interest in making any of this easier for myself. I began pitching concepts to Wolf; she demanded, again and again, that I’d keep it simple. I would like to, I said to her, but it was going to be hard work. If shooting stunt guys and sexy chefs taught me anything, it was that stories weren’t merely told through lights, makeup, and acting- they were also dictated by the process. An film production of any kind is comprised mainly of a series of banal tasks – somebody walks to a place, picks a thing up, looks at a person, says a sentence…etc., and it takes a very focused director and disciplined crew to stay on course from one shot to the next, so the story may shine through in every shot. While developing that skill, I relied on the process itself to substitute for Wolf’s lot.
And the rest fell in place. I dusted off a concept that had its origin as a visual gimmick for a hip hop video, kept the parts that still interested me years later, pitched it to my trusty producer Eric (who underwrote half of the budget because how Wolf’s voice steadied him), roped in the antique shop owner Jon (whose space, I have to admit, did make everything a bit easier), then enlisted a Bolivian documentarian named Tupac, a pair of Spanish lovebirds who were projection experts but were parting in two days, a dancer who could fall asleep on any surface, a trio of classically trained musicians who were brothers, an eight-year sober single mama who didn’t know how good an actress she was, and a couple more friends who didn’t know what they signed up for - and turned it into an improvised dance between a projected dancer, a weary woman, two cameras, one projectionist, and as many objects and items as we could, for three very cold and very long nights. There were also a last minute flight to DC and a two-month long editing process, all of which amounted to this video right here. It contains no computer-generated effect, though it’s got plenty of artifacts from a tough shoot, as well as a very earnest dilemma, sung by a tough, tough girl.
That is why I can say this video is my favorite thing I’ve done.