Inspired by the floor routine of ex-UCLA gymnast and dancer Sophina DeJesus, Max Knight’s high-tempo music video for Seramic track Greg’s Love (feat. Bootsy Collins) is one of those promos you just can’t take your eyes off. Orbiting around the captivating performance of DeJesus, Knight’s video is a simple concept, perfectly executed – we caught up with the director to discuss his inspiration and the casting of his lead performer.
How did the concept for the music video originate? Was it inspired by the track or something you’d envisioned beforehand?
It was definitely inspired by the track. On first listen it was just one of those moments where you feel wonderfully restricted with your brainstorming! It just had such a relentless, frenetic pacing that there was no choice but to compliment it with some equally colourful, hectic visuals. Myself and Seramic were actually researching an entirely different idea when I came across Sophina DeJesus’ UCLA gymnastics floor routine video. I sent it over and he replied immediately saying he’d just seen the same thing – and it all made perfect sense. Theres so many dance videos out there – I just wanted to make sure this one wasn’t too stylised and didn’t take itself too seriously.
Sophina is obviously a vital component of this promo, how did you get her onboard?
Sophina was really the inspiration for the whole idea. We contacted her and I drove down to Temecula where she grew up, to meet up and have a look around her childhood gym. She’s a real local hero, all the kids got so excited when she walked in, asking for pictures and practising their best routines for her. We considered hiring a location in LA but it just felt so organic in that space.
Something worth noting is that Seramic is borderline obsessed with color and shape – he flew over from England and spent most of the shoot stacking the crash mats in color order and making sure all the objects around the gym were lined up perfectly!
The video feels like it perfectly captures the energy of the track, was pacing and spirit something that was in your mind throughout production?
Thank you! Yes…I made a floor-plan and mapped out a route for Sophina to take around the gym. We shot everything chronologically in five hours without stopping so that it would feel as natural and as exhausting as possible. It was a tiny crew and we used the practical lighting available so we could keep moving. The DoP Sean Bagley, did everything handheld with the handle on the Alex Mini – which was insane. He didn’t complain once!
Sam Seager the commissioner at Warner, really pushed for us to get a choreographer which turned out to be vital. I’d worked with Nadine Olmo on a couple of sets before and she taught Sophina some of the dance interludes on the day – which somehow she memorised and performed perfectly pretty much every take.
What are you working on next?
I’m going to Australia to make a documentary on some extraordinary scientists who are in a three-way relationship and working on a huge project together. It’ll be short-form to begin with, then hopefully if it works out we’ll get the funding to make it into something longer. Other than that I have two photobooks being published next year and hopefully a short dark-comedy about a murder on an urban farm…we’ll see if that happens!