Feeling much more like a high-end gallery piece than music video, Trashman for LA hip hop instrumentalist Judastongue, sees co-directors Sam Griffith and Alex LeGolvan build on the latter’s installation work to shape high-speed photography in to a gravity defying piece of conceptual art with dark undertones. Griffith reveals how the pair embraced and exceeded the limitations of their self-imposed rules.
The initial concept for this video was inspired by the conceptual installation art of my co-director Alex LeGolvan. After we found a track that we knew we wanted to do a video for, it became one of those low/no budget situations where you look around at the resources you have available and come up with something within those constraints. I’ve always been a big believer in the mantra that ‘constraints free you’ in art. Having a set of limits allows your creative mind to focus in on ‘what’s the most interesting and compelling thing I can make within these essentially arbitrary rules?’. Whether the constraints are self-imposed like the Dogme 95 movement or financially necessary, paring down the infinite possibilities of the blank canvas of your mind into a manageable slice allows you to explore a multitude of ideas without feeling overwhelmed because you always have a framework you’re building within.
I’ve always been a big believer in the mantra that ‘constraints free you’ in art.
For this project, we had a couple things. First, a brilliant DP I’ve worked with several times, Scott Crozier, was on board to shoot with the Sony A7s. Second, Peter Cote at GRANDEUR was on board to shoot high-speed footage on the Phantom Miro. And finally, my friend Nick Logie at the live/work/warehouse/performance space/studio Non Plus Ultra had agreed to let us shoot there. And we knew we’d only have one day to shoot. So with those resources/constraints in mind, we set about brainstorming striking images that felt thematically cohesive with the looping melancholy of the track.
Using Alex’s installation work as a jumping off point, we thought about ideas of loss and the absence implied in the negative space of inanimate objects. We also found inspiration in the inherent stark contrast of the monochrome color palette and the sterility of a gallery space-type setting. From there we whittled the list down to the images we thought came pre-packed with the most meaning. We presented the idea to the artist, Judastongue, and he was into it. So we moved forward with our design and mechanical testing prep, finished that in time, and shot the thing.
Things went relatively smooth on the day and then it was on to post. Which became a bit of a slog with all the compositing/clean-up and wire-removal but after a few months of tweaking the cut, it was done and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The most surprising thing about the reaction to it has been how creepy/disturbing people find the imagery. Which isn’t exactly what we were going for, but I totally love. I have another music video coming out soon – a hand-crafted animation 2.5 years in the making. And a new short film shooting in March. Plus a feature in development set in my home state of North Carolina.