A Spotlight on ÉCU 2024’s Music Video Category

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In this year’s Music Video Selection of ÉCU, we have been presented with a vast selection of some brilliant films, as well as very talented filmmakers, displaying a wide range of genres and themes in conjunction with featuring a vast variety in terms of imagery, visuals and art style. 

Along with being a place to share and celebrate powerful musical creations, the Music Video Selection mainly serves to enhance and display innovation and creativity, bringing together independent music videos that stand out due to their quality either by excelling in storytelling, showcasing detailed animation, innovative camera techniques, vibrant art direction, amongst more. 

À TOI

“À Toi”, by Stéphane Berla, 2023

Directed by the french animator Stéphane Berla, “À Toi” makes us follow the antics of two little creatures, a blue girl and a red fiery boy who are friends. The storyline highlights how their relationship evolves and how they interact and explore the universe they are in.

Berla, in an online Q&A with ÉCU, tells us that one of his major difficulties with this project was the short deadline: “It was a very good surprise that he called me, especially to offer me a new film. (…) The only thing is I had to answer very very fast, I had to make the music video with my team in two months, everything together, it was very very short.”

To better understand this music video, it helps to understand the history behind the music: “This song was already a famous song”, Stéphane explains. “It’s a remake, and it first was a song called À Toi from Joe Dassin, it’s a very famous song and a very beautiful song in France. Matthieu made a new version with Gail Ann Dorsey. Gail is an artist, she sings, but she is very famous for being the bassist of David Bowie.” Adding: “So they made a duo, so she made all the bass on his album, and also they made some songs together, and this one.”

“The idea of this song in French, (…) it’s kind of a love story. But Matthieu told me he didn’t want this, because he wanted more like an artistic link between him and Gail Ann Dorsey. So I focused on this idea.”

The story-telling of this video feels simultaneously whimsical and intimate, where we start by watching the two main characters interact as if they were children playing together. Bit by bit, we see them evolve almost as if they were growing up, but still in each other’s company until they take their final form, the carmine boy turning into the singer -M- (Matthieu Chedid), and the little flying girl transforming into Gail Ann Dorsey. Eventually, the video transcends with both of them sitting under the same bewitching blue tree where we first see them interact, this time around, both of them playing the guitar. The ending seemingly represents a cycle, as we see them return to their original forms and play hopscotch, a children’s game, one last time together, as the music comes to its end with a whispery tone.

LUST SUPPER – NASTY THINGS

“LUST SUPPER – NASTY THINGS”, by Artem Verkhoglyadov, 2023

With its colorful and detailed scenario, as well as the smooth camera movements that create a sense of continuity from space to space, “LUST SUPPER – NASTY THINGS” shows us a whimsical, almost pinocchio like story, about an old puppet maker that creates a new doll that he places in his dollhouse. Initially, she spends time by herself painting, until she decides to start exploring and runs into another doll, which becomes love at first sight. However, the old man doesn’t seem to agree and tries to separate them while they desperately try to run away together.

With 4 minutes of runtime, Russian director Artem Verkhoglyadov, mixes different media in order to bring us very polished and bright-colored images, as well as characters with strong visuals, a direct result of the work put in costume design, giving them a very retro and old-school aesthetic. The highlight of this film would be, certainly, the high effort and detail-oriented art direction.

SIX ROASTED CHICKENS

“Six Roasted Chickens”, Jeremias Nussbaum, 2023

Next on the list, we have a music video created by Jeremias Nussbaum. Simultaneously from Germany and France, this movie lyrics main subject is as the title suggests, about chickens and the tragicness of their life, while hinting that the real subject it wants to explore is not actually the birds themselves.

With a mix of different medias, as well as the peculiar use of the expressions “erotic chicken” a couple of times, this film draws a line of comparison between the roasted chicken and the main character’s lover,

The combination of the simplicity of the rural area where this film is shot, accompanied by the funky elements present such as the skate made out of a guitar suitcase, the chicken dressed with a wedding veil, or the light pink suit and silver cowboy boots the main character wears along with it’s very peculiar lyrics, brings an eccentric as well as comical effect to this music video.

LATENT SPACE

“Latent Space”, by Nicolai Sagasser, 2023

Following the previous film, we are presented with “Latent Space”, which found its way to us from Germany. Directed by Nicolai Sagasser, this music video tells the story of a man who enters a virtual world where what’s real and what’s artificial start to blend together.

This music video seems to draw inspiration from places like anime, East Asia metropoles, as well as making use of sexualized visuals of women from pole dancing scenes to women sensually dancing in their underwear, which are intercalated with images of fast driving cars, futuristic looking cities and of course, technology in very different forms, from humanoid robots to advanced high tech.

This music video is very open about the use of AI, using it not only in the image but in the story-telling since the main character is shown to be infatuated by a “female AI character who possesses her own unique struggles and aspirations”. In the credits of the video it’s also stated that “Latent Space” is a “framestrike production in collaboration with AI”, framestrike being the director’s own production company, founded by him at the age of 23.

REN – MONEY GAME PART 3

“Ren – Money Game Part 3”, by Samuel Perry-Falvey and Ren Gill, 2023

With the longest runtime of the music video category, this collaborative work between the director Samuel Perry-Falvey and the musician Ren was the winner of the Best European Independent Music Video prize of this year ÉCU edition.

This video contains a complex narrative and strong visual presence. “Money Game Part 3”, leads us through the story of a “boy named Jimmy”, whom since he was a child seemingly had a very greedy and possessive personality which is exponentiated throughout his life by his fathers words who encourage him to pursue power, money and fame.Visually, the music video is intricate and well choreographed, displaying different elements that help build the narrative and mirror the lyrics of the song, the most eye-catching symbolism being the eerie characters making use of masks that cover their faces coupled with ropes around their necks, hauntingly illustrating the “rise and fall of Jimmy”.

This music video goes so far as to break the 4th wall as Ren addresses the spectators with a well made commentary regarding the power and money hungry society we live in, contrasted with the values that are actually important for the prosperity and fulfillment of human beings, such as creativity, community, and independent thinking, which could simultaneously be our way out of said flawed and vicious cycled society.

One of the possible reasons for this music video to be so compelling could come from the fact that it is a collaborative work instead of an individual one. In an interview with Perry-Falvey, we had the chance to know more about his relationship with the musical artist Ren, whom he directed the music video with: “ It’s always great to work with him, he is a genius. He is so inspiring to work with, and every ounce of success he gets, he deserves it more than anyone I’ve ever met.”

On the topic of originality, regarding inspiration, references and self-expression, Samuel gives a very interesting input: “(…) being truly original isn’t really a thing, it’s more like adapting and changing and heightening already existing (…) things, and almost (…) all of your experiences, you are taking in and putting forward into your art; because I think the idea of trying to strive for something original is probably the completely wrong direction you should be taking with your art.”

To conclude, the Music Video Selection provides a celebration of the intersection between music and filmmaking, as well as awarding the creative talent of filmmakers and showcasing how this medium exceeds entertainment, becoming a powerful tool for self-expression, emotional significance and social commentary.

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