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Controlled Fires Presents

Above is the music video for Love & Politics by Controlled Fires. The video was directed and shot by myself and partner-in-crime, Jon Armstrong... working with pretty much free reign. It happened like this: Sam from Controlled Fires tweeted one morning that he was looking for a filmmaker interested in creating an artistic interpretation of one of their songs... knowing literally nothing about what I was getting into, I replied... because I was intrigued. Who knows why.

As it turned out, the guys in the band were not only super cool, but they were already vaguely familiar with Jon and myself, as well as some of our previous work, so the game was afoot. They gave us plenty of rope to hang ourselves with, but beyond requesting a frame rate (they wanted a 24p film look) and declining to appear in the video themselves, they left everything up to us... and I'm thrilled to say that the end result was well-received. 

From the start, we made the decision to shoot on two distinctly different cameras: the Canon 7D, and the iPhone. Jon and I had discussed numerous times how we felt like the iPhone would turn out to be the 8mm film of our generation, and since we were going for a vintage vibe on this, we figured it was worth a try. We decided to aim for a final resolution of 720p, which gave us a good point to meet in the middle with quality... the iPhone stuff still needed to be blown up, but not as much as if we had been working at 1080p, and we also could feel free to shoot in slow motion plenty, using the 7D's 60p mode (slowed down to 24p in After Effects later).

Still, we had our concerns as to how well the iPhone footage would bump up against the lovely HD stuff... so we eventually came up with the approach of never using one without the other. This meant that every single shot got crazy processed in After Effects, layering anywhere from 2 to 10 pieces of footage using blend modes or keys. Of course, this style requires smart shooting... you can't layer 5 shots of super detailed stuff without thinking about what you're doing... it'll end up a mess. We spent several days shooting texture plates, and also took several train and airplane rides to get the stuff we needed... and then we spent a few more days shooting the filler material and cutaways.

The cool thing about relying on the iPhone was that wherever we went, we had those with us, and when we saw something that fit the concept, we would shoot it. The other unexpected result was that While I was editing on the road and decided I needed several shots we never got, I just pulled out my phone and shot them. After a little After Effects magic, I had shots that not only worked as placeholders, but are still in the finished video. You couldn't shoot everything this way — it would never work — but for this project, it was a perfect fit.

Anyway, once the edit was well underway, my love of models worked its way in... and we ended up adding some late-in-the-game shots of model trains (every shot you see of a train is a model) as well as the burning breakfast table bit, which I shot on my stove in the middle of the night. Honestly, when I shot that segment, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew it was cool... of course, once I tried it in the bridge section, there was no other alternative. It was an absolute perfect fit, and it didn't deviate from the story we were telling at all. Yay.

If you wanna Facebook 'em, here you go. Catch 'em on the Twitter right here.

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