July Talk // Push + Pull

When July Talk first approached me to make a music video for Push + Pull, I had a long phone conversation with Pete about the meaning of the song. He told me it was about Western excess, about our never-ending appetite, about the types of people who consume and consume and don't know when to stop, about our irrational but constant need for more food, more mind-altering substances, more sex, more "likes", more money, more things. 

I thought it would be interesting to try to capture these themes in the video through raw documentary-style footage showing various groups of people partaking in excess in different ways across North America over the course of one night, which would be intercut with performance footage. 

For the doc-style shoots, I worked with my long-time collaborator, cinematographer Maya Bankovic. The overarching concept was that everything we shot should somehow relate back to the idea of excess or consumption or that desire for more extreme experiences - that type of careening-through-life that makes you feel alive.

For the performance footage, I worked with long-time friend but first-time collaborator, cinematographer Adam Crosby. We loved the idea of choreography, so we found an opulent mansion as the backdrop for the dance sequences. Leah choreographed the dancing - we worked together to establish movements that we called "human dancing" - not too dancy, but more gestural. And we also brought in some of the spastic movement that I'd explored in a previous video with Dan Griffin - shot at 120fps, it has a strange, dreamy quality to it.

Wanting to keep the band performance as clean as possible, we decided to go with a black void studio shoot and a simple one-light setup. I wanted each shot to have subtle movement to it (a push or a pull, if you will), so we shot the entire performance section on steadicam, operated by the indomitable Ali Khurshid. Cinematographer Mike McLaughlin also joined us for the day and shot some 16mm footage on a bolex.

PRODUCER: Pete Dreimanis (Vulture Culture)
DANCERS: Amanda Acorn, Krystel Cisnero, Ishan Davé, Peter D'Souza, Malcolm Messado-Fletcher, Norah Sadava, Zahra Vassell, Ross Wirtanen
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Adam Crosby, Maya Bankovic, Mike McLaughlin
STEADICAM: Ali Khurshid
STYLED BY: Jenna Rose Storey
MAKE UP BY: Jess Panetta, Emily O'Quinn
COLOURIST: Conor Fisher (Alter Ego)

Dan Griffin // The Hum

Dan Griffin asked me to direct a video for his song The Hum. It is about the mysterious Windsor hum that can be heard by many residents living in the city. No one knows exactly where it is coming from, but many believe that it is emanating from Zug Island, a heavily industrialized, heavily guarded island in Detroit.

The concept for the video was a vaguely post-apocalyptic environment in which people are searching for the hum which can be heard and sensed in rocks, trees, walls and other surfaces. To these people the hum is beautiful, a euphoric vibration. But it is so elusive, the search often ends up driving them crazy. 

Just like one of the real-life researchers of the Windsor hum said "a sound like this, one that doesn’t manifest itself on a regular, timed interval, it’s like chasing a ghost."


Bry Webb // Fletcher

I have always been fascinated with photographing strangers, especially the unremarkable people - the older generation tending to their gardens and sitting on their porches, the labourers who become a part of the landscape - the people who form the backbone of our world, yet often go unseen.

To me, Bry Webb sings about these people in his songs, there is a longing for a simpler time and a simpler world; he sings about people who work with their hands and who wake and sleep with the rising and setting of the sun.

A few years ago, I discovered some of the postwar housing communities in Ontario and became enamoured with the simple beauty of these boxy white clapboard bungalows. I thought this would be the perfect setting for the video for Fletcher. Cinematographer Greg Biskup and I traveled to some of the these communities and captured a series of portraits of strangers going about their everyday lives.


Bry Webb // Prove Me Wrong

I colour corrected this music video last week, directed by Colin Medley and shot by Maya Bankovic for Bry Webb's song "Prove Me Wrong". It's a lyrical, hypnotizing video set in the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, with lots of footage of donkeys moving around in slow motion. If you are not obsessed with donkeys yet, you will be after watching this video.

Megan Bonnell // Stars

Nevado Records approached us last month to make a music video for Megan Bonnell's song Stars. Maya came up with the concept of a "star-child" draped in a bejewelled and twinkling cape, roaming the streets of Toronto. We had Megan wander through Chinatown, dip into shops and search for her kindred spirit amidst the crowds. She finally finds her home on the shore of Lake Ontario, bewitched by the vast landscape of stars moving through the night sky.

CAPE DESIGN: Olga Barksy, Dustin Redshaw

Young Rival // Black is Good

I helped out my good friend and long-time collaborator Jared Raab in the edit room. First Jared and programmer/animator Tomasz Dysinski collected real-time depth data of Young Rival performing the song using an X-Box Kinect. We edited these black and white 2D sequences like a regular video, and then Tomasz converted each frame of depth information into a random dot stereogram image.

I see a dinosaur, a dolphin, a teapot and a schooner - what else can you see? (Be sure to watch in full 1080HD)

Dan Griffin // Bordertown

Dan Griffin called us up in June to make a video for Bordertown, a song that explores the purgatorial experience of living in Windsor – a place that defines itself based on its relationship to its border city – the fallen empire of Detroit. Dan sings about the loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, about the strangeness of living in a rundown bordertown, linked by the Ambassador bridge and constantly in the shadow of its looming American counterpart, where evidence of its glory days of prohibition era rum-running, of the burgeoning Motor City are littered throughout.

So Maya and I traveled to Windsor and Detroit, along with our friend and tour-guide Dave Todon – a talented photographer who grew up in Windsor, and who knows all the best ditches and back alleys for skateboarding and other general shenanigans.

In this black and white doc-style music video, we shot local Windsorites skating, hitching themselves to backs of cars, shotgunning beers, vomiting, chasing birds, crossing the border, doing burnouts in garages and dancing in clubs at night. It was about finding beauty in the bleak landscape of a rundown city, about capturing youths finding ways to pass the time that only those in dead-end towns know how to do, about creating moments that feel like we are careening uncontrollably through life which – in a rundown bordertown – is the only way to truly feel alive.

Special thanks to Nick, Hill, Dinger, Robin, Joel and Lucas for showing us around town and letting us photograph them getting up to no good.


Snailhouse // I Never Woke Up

Jared Raab and Lindsay Mackay shot a video in Joshua Tree National Park and asked me to edit it. I collaborated with Jared to come up with visually interesting compositions - cropping shots of landscapes and turning them into circles and triangles to be overlapped with other shots. We used split-screen trickery to make the character appear multiple times in the same frame and spent hours and hours in After Effects chopping off the character's head.

Arkells // On Paper

Arkells approached us in the spring of 2012 to make a music video for their song "On Paper". Because of our love of all things analog, we decided to take a cue from the title and literally make the entire video out of actual paper. This means we shot everything live action in HD, exported the edited sequence of 2465 frames (every second frame), printed each of those frames on paper and cut out elements of each shot with X-acto knives. Then we re-photographed each frame against different paper textures and backgrounds, brought it back into Final Cut Pro and synced it back up with the song.

The project was produced by our friends Peter and Josh at Vulture Culture. I edited, co-directed and co-animated the video with Maya Bankovic, who was also the DOP.

Diamond Rings // I'm Just Me

I just finished editing this music video for Diamond Ring's new single "I'm Just Me". Directed by Jared Raab, this video features tons of lasers and vogueing. So check out this fun throwback to 80's glam and synth pop, but be forewarned: while it is currently up to broadcast standards, it failed the FPA test (for strobing) not once, but twice.

Cancer Bats // Old Blood

Josh Warburton and Pete Dreimanis of Vulture Culture called me up to edit this video they shot for Cancer Bats. Pete employed a technique he likes to call "lens-banging", where he detaches the lens from the camera to get a jittery, distorted image. It's always fun editing with dynamic footage (but we were all a little worried it wouldn't pass the FPA test for strobing!)

Ohbijou // Niagara

I edited this music video directed by Jared Raab for Ohbijou’s song “Niagara” off of their album Metal Meets.

Here is a little bit of what Jared has to say about the process of shooting the video: “Niagara was shot using a combination of slow motion footage from the high speed Olympus iSpeed camera and Canon 7D. It also utilized a strange and wonderful piece of technology called a Fog Screen, which belongs to the Future Cinema Laboratory at York University in Toronto. In order to achieve the effect of floating in mid air effect, we had the band jump on a trampoline. Footage shot with the iSpeed was later projected onto the Fog Screen and re-shot on 7D for the performances. The Fog Screen works by dropping a thin sheet of water-based fog from above on which you can project video images. All of the water, smoke and fire effects you see were done in-camera using propane blasts, flame wands and a rain wand positioned above or below the frame. The final video features very little digital composting, though we did layer in the occasional rain drop here or matte-out the occasional light there. The video’s final 4:3 ratio is a result of the native dimensions of the iSpeed camera and the Fog Screen.”

Arkells // Kiss Cam

Arkells approached us in July 2011 to make a music video for Kiss Cam off of their album Michigan Left. The song was a B-side track and the video was initially intended just to be a viral but Universal Music liked it so much, they ended up releasing it on iTunes, Vevo, MuchMusic and MTV.

This video was nominated for Video of the Year by the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards and the Hamilton Music Awards.