IYKYK is often used to allude to an inside joke and could not be more fitting when talking about Parker Seaman’s insane music video LA On Acid – his third collaboration with electronic music producer and DJ Dillon Francis. Opening mischievously with a spiked chicken nugget provided by none other than Diplo, LA On Acid takes its audience on a hypnotising dive into a wild trip – a fitting music video sensory overload which has had the volume cranked up to full. Wild camera set-ups, freaky yet wholly absorbing bulging eyes, a breakdancing duck and eel dicks. Seaman built upon his longstanding, established relationship with Francis and took his time to work collaboratively with the artist to really understand each beat and lyric of the song and how to represent that in the most demented and superb fashion. Set in a vintage Chinese restaurant with a cast of bizarre yet oddly enticing individuals each with their own tale to tell, it is a world you want to literally jump into regardless of the levels of LSD coursing through your veins. We spoke to Seaman about crafting his visuals to resemble a campy horror, being incredibly specific and precise in his timings on set and why eel dicks were a must.
Firstly, how did you come to be working with Dillon Francis and come up with this crazy, epic video?
This is my 3rd video with DF. He called me over the summer and said he wanted to work together again, but really take our time on this one. With no real release date or label mandate, we could just work on it as long as it needed. The prompt was based on the lyric video visual made by Clare Gillen (DF’s creative director) and we built the idea from there. Also eel dicks. Those were super important to Dillon.
The goal was always to try and remain practical feeling and not too cartoonish.
Let’s talk about the eyes…love the bulging protruding black which we all recognise as a telltale sign.
These were done by our VFX artist Erik Ande, who’s a wizard BTW. I think eyes bulging was always the plan as it is the universal sign for someone who is very, VERY high. The goal was always to try and remain practical feeling and not too cartoonish. Midsommar was a big reference for the eyes. That sort of gradual, subtle change into full blown insanity. Erik lives in Sweden, so we would just be up at 3 am on Zoom going over shots. I think this added to the delirium of discussing eyeballs, eel dicks and chicken nuggets having sex.
The melting face is creepy, funny and glorious all at the same time, how did that all come together?
This was almost entirely practical. I wanted that 80s horror feel to this bit. After many discussions and online tutorials, our production designer (Matt Sokoler) made these three layered skeleton heads. Bone, muscle and blood. We melted the heads with heat guns on green screen, then placed them onto the faces we shot on location. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.
I decided early on that this is a comedy but to approach the visuals like a campy horror, i.e. dutch angles, wide angles and slow zooms.
You’ve got some great setups/angles in the restaurant, what was your equipment setup and how long did the shoot take?
The whole thing was roughly two days of shooting. Like I said, we had a lot of prep time so I scouted that restaurant over and over until I basically shot the whole video on my phone. Franklin Ricart (DP) and I decided early on that this is a comedy but to approach the visuals like a campy horror, i.e. dutch angles, wide angles and slow zooms. We also knew going in that we would print to 35mm for this, so everything was catered to that when it came to finding a look. We landed on Alexa LF, Panavision H Series lenses, all printed to 35mm.
That shot with him levitating outside calling for his mom felt particularly visceral to me!
The levitation is good ol’ fashioned wire work. The very first thing we shot at 4 am was Dillon flying 40 feet into the air and screaming at the top of his lungs. It really set the tone for the day. As far as the “mom!” goes? That’s just where my head goes to when you’re out of control on drugs and you’ve exhausted all other options… And maybe I called my mom to come pick me up after I smoked weed for the first time in 7th grade.
This must have been a hefty editing job, especially nailing the timing of all the elements. What was your post production like?
I pre-vised about 90% of this video before shooting, so all the shots and set ups were specifically timed to the music inside the actual location. We kept referring to this video of my wife and I playing all the characters acting out each sequence. Again, thanks to Genghis Cohen for letting me scout 6 or 7 times. And though it was meticulously planned Jacob Ehrlich (editor) and I found a lot of amazing new moments after we shot.
Congratulations on the Vimeo Staff Pick and hefty view count over on Dillon’s YouTube! It seems like everyone’s been loving the video.
Thanks! It’s been overwhelming to put the video out considering we’ve been working on it so long. I’m really happy to finally share it with the world.
What are you working on now?
Shorts, features, getting good sleep! I would love to do more music videos.