Conjuring music video visuals on ALEXA
DON'T LET YOUR LOVE ANNIHILATE is a long-form music video for the artist Flynn featuring Aya Peard. It was directed by Bruno Miotto and shot by Michael Pescasio. Shooting on a tight schedule over two days, the team relied on ALEXA to capture the stark beauty of a dive motel and nighttime exteriors in downtown Los Angeles. Describes Miotto, "It's a surreal and dark fairy tale set in modern day Los Angeles inspired by Cinderella. The video shows a dark story of a sick and unhealthy relationship between a young couple of lovers: Julie and Jacob."
We spoke with the director and cinematographer about their collaboration translating the music into a visually appealing and emotionally engaging story.
ARRI: Have you worked with one another before?
BM: I've worked with Michael before on a music video as soon as I finished film school. It was a crazy concept for an indie rapper and that's where we started our collaborations. Michael is a really talented cinematographer with amazing skills in camera operating too -- that makes him very versatile and easy to work with. I always choose my collaborators not just by judging them by their talent, but also on how they are. Michael is a very generous and dedicated man and soon we became friends. (He loves Italy by the way and he knows how to read my mind when I just shake my hands in the air... ha-ha!).
MP: Bruno Miotto drew me to this project. He is a very talented young director whom I enjoy working with. His European sensibility is refreshing in Los Angeles. We have done several projects together but this was his passion project. He sent me the track, which seemed like an 80's throw back. I liked the sound and his idea of capturing the time period was exciting.
ARRI: Describe the concept of the music video.
BM: It was a fantastic experience for me, because I consider it more a short film than music video, that's why we ended up calling it "music film, " not to sound pretentious, but just to say that it's a story with music and not a classical music video. I had the pleasure to worked closely with the artist Flynn to create a cinematic piece using his song, but creating also a soundtrack like in a movie. The label MKRS and producer Martino Properzi wanted something original and they were looking for a cinematic experience more than just a music video.
MP: I grew up in the 80s and the first thing that came to mind was "Pretty in Pink." When Bruno said he wanted a different color palette for each character, pink was a no brainer. The color pink was a challenge. We did several tests to get the pink to work. We needed enough saturation so it would read. The trick was getting the pink bright enough to project without blowing out the color. I think we figured it out and the color works well with the theme and feel of the song.
Shooting on a tight schedule over two days, the team relied on ALEXA to capture the stark beauty of a dive motel and nighttime exteriors in downtown Los Angeles.
What I hoped to accomplish as an artist was seeing what I could do with very little resources. The ALEXA was a great choice. The sensor is very sensitive in low light, which is the only way we could have achieved this video. I used Zeiss Super Speed Mark 3's and shot wide open most of the time at F1.3. I love shallow depth of field and think it really worked in this project.
ARRI: How did you light the scenes of the actor running around the city at night?
MP: I lit the downtown scene with natural light, almost documentary style. The trick was using what we had naturally to work in the context of our project. I only had a 1x1 Lite Panel with a battery pack. I chose places I knew from years of shooting downtown LA at night. There is plenty of light if you know where to look. With the sensitivity of the sensor and fast lenses, we had no problems. In some places, we actually stopped down to 2.8 several times.
ARRI: What do you think of the image quality from the ALEXA camera and how the pictures looked?
BM: The pictures with the ALEXA are stunning and extraordinary. [ARRI is] not paying me to declare that, but it's true. The latitude is great, it's easy to use and it makes the post workflow a very easy experience. I've been working with the ALEXA a lot…Plus, it has a feminine name and I like that too! Ha-ha!
MP: I love the image quality of the ALEXA. It's not as harsh as most HD cameras. It seems to resemble film better then any other camera out there. It doesn't hurt that it is made by a camera company which has been making motion picture cameras for almost 100 years. The ALEXA is very pleasing to the eye.
The bottom line is to create an image that is pleasing to yourself and the audience. I hope that I achieved that on this project.
If I have a say in what format to shoot, ALEXA is my first choice.
ARRI: What is next for each of you?
BM: The next is to keep pushing to shoot commercials and more music videos and art projects as well, plus I'm finishing my feature script and I hope to make my feature film debut soon. I'm almost 30; it's time to grow up!
MP: My next project is a tough one to answer. I shoot mostly commercials so I have done 30 plus jobs since this project. I am desperately seeking the right feature film to shoot. I have read some scripts but haven't committed to anything yet. One thing is for sure. If I have a say in what format to shoot, ALEXA is my first choice.
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