Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Adaptation: Song Decisions and Initial Ideas

Song Decisions and Initial Ideas
Since our briefing, I've spent the majority of my time trying to settle on the song I wish to create a video for. I consciously forced myself not to rush into it for the sake of getting things done, but after almost a week, I think I have boiled it down to a couple of tracks I wish to use, with the final song being chosen in favour of the better idea associated with it. Firstly though, I'll go through the short list of songs I have considered along the way, as well as the ideas associated with them.

Song Shortlist
A Number of Tracks from Sea Change Beck
Dismissed for two reasons. One, I couldn't settle on a single track, as they all resonate with me, and two, the majority of the tracks on the album are pushing the five minute mark and ideally I don't want to exceed three and a half minutes at most

Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime Beck
This song resonates strongly with me, although I couldn't develop an idea without harking back to thoughts of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which this song is featured. 
With Beck, there are a number of songs I would like to adapt into a music video, simply because his trademark lyrical and musical style is deliberately nonsensical. This is appealing to me, as it would stretch my imagination when attempting to interpret the music, but I can't think of a way of doing this without it developing into an abstract mess of nonsense that relates very little to the music (unless of course, I made it deliberately strange and obscure to reflect the nature of the song, but this feels like a bit of a cheap way of getting around a problem)

Lights in the Sky Nine Inch Nails
Ultimately an interpretation of the lyrics. They provided very striking mental imagery for me, but that's where it ended. I didn't have enough of an emotional affinity with the track to pursue it further

Right Where It Belongs Nine Inch Nails
Much the same reason as I had for Lights in the Sky

Lullaby The Cure
I love the imagery that this song conjures up, although my initial thoughts were quite literal. This proved to be a problem as the original music video is an incredibly literal interpretation of the lyrics, which stifled the idea for me and ultimately put me off of developing it further

Just Like Heaven The Cure
I just couldn't come up with anything that was as striking as the original video

Pictures of You The Cure
It's an incredibly long song and cutting it down to a reasonable length somewhat kills the impact it had on me in the first place, so it was dismissed

The Killing Moon Nouvelle Vague
My main idea for this track told the story of a man who had a curious infatuation with the moon and its enigmatic nature. The man goes out to sea as the moon is rising at dusk, trying to get closer to it. He struggles against storms, sea creatures and illness, with the moon gradually rising as the night goes on. Eventually, he glances over the edge of the boat to catch the reflection of the moon in the water. Exhausted, dehydrated and delirious, he reaches out to touch it, convinced it is the real thing. The boat tips and he plummets into the water, where he eventually drowns. Immediately after, in the distance, another boat leaves the harbour, where the cycle will begin again. Defining the nature of The Killing Moon.

Fly Me to the Moon Julie London
Just a quirky, enjoyable song that evokes images of sixties class and swing. Not a real idea here...

Windmills of Your Mind Noel Harrison
Mainly considered because of the evocative, somewhat nonsensical lyrics. Although I couldn't get past the thought of simply visualising the lyrics, and I'd rather make a video that was a little more abstract in its nature

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard Paul Simon
This was an option I landed on over Christmas, so it has been developed loosely, but I'm not overly convinced I can do something interesting with it yet. I enjoy the song and the story it tells. It's a very charming song and so I attempted to develop an idea that had an equal amount of charm. I came up with a couple of different ways of approaching this idea.
1. The story told from the perspective of the child in the song, so I've translated that over to the idea. The child uses toys and puppets to tell the tale in a series of homemade dioramas, ranging from the prison cell to the schoolyard, all created in a ramshackle, childlike way, using cardboard boxes, egg cartons and stationary. The child's hands would be visible, manipulating the toys, as he is sat behind the dioramas
2. The child is fixed, central in the camera, as the setting around him changes and shifts in response to what is happening in the song, e.g. in the police station. he'd be behind bars etc then his mother and father move into shot, scene changes, boy in same position but surrounding area different. The video stays in this format for the entire song

Making Plans for Nigel Nouvelle Vague
This is by far my most developed and resolved concept, although it is still far from being realised effectively. The idea has been fuelled by various influences merged together, as opposed to just the song alone (I picked up on this way of thinking whilst watching an interview with Mark Romanek, and how he drew influence from various unrelated things such as lighting at fashion shows and Polaroids he had viewed)
When listening to this song, I interpreted themes along the lines of:
  • A life led through the guidance and suggestion of others
  • Being spoken for and masking of emotions ("if your Nigel says he's happy, he must be happy")
  • Having decisions made for you
  • Ultimately restricted in your life choices
  • Restricted unintentionally by those who only want what is best for you
  • Disrespect through mollycoddling 
  • Treated as a puppet, every action you take and every decision you make is the choice of somebody pulling your strings
  • Negativity as a result of intended positivity. Good intentions ultimately leading to a bad outcome
  • What would happen if the metaphorical strings were cut, one by one, leaving the puppet to run their own life
  • Sudden independence
These themes led me to ideas of treating marionettes as a metaphor for a constrained life and with this in mind, I developed a couple of concepts. These concepts are very similar in how they are executed, it is more their stylistic approach that separates them.
1. A small wooden man is lying in bed, his eyes blink as he begins to wake. He rises to his feet, where it is revealed he is a puppet being controlled by an unseen puppeteer. He meanders through mundane tasks, from preparing breakfast to reading the newspaper. As the day progresses, one by one, his strings are cut by various elements of his world, from sharp objects to small flames etc. This causes him to gradually lose control of his own being, one limb at a time, as he is under the control of another, so he doesn't know how to function without the strings holding him up. Eventually, he falls into a heap as the final string is cut. The camera holds focus on the heaped puppet, as he lies there still. The video ends with him gaining control of his hands and arms, as he begins to rise without the strings.
The visual influence I had in my head for this concept were predominantly stop motion animations, notably, the work of Jan ┼ávankmajer and the Brothers Quay. I had this image of a worn wooden marionette, constructed part artists marionette, part nutcracker, lacquered with chipped resin and brooding, dark varnish, much like that of a ventriloquists dummy. The environment would be constructed of what appears to be found materials, such as driftwood, household items and miscellaneous tchotchkes, set up to represent scale objects in this marionettes world (much like that of the Borrowers). There would also be flashes of the world outside of the diorama, glimpses of the puppeteer through cracks in the set, the puppet awoken by an alarm clock positioned by his window etc.

2. The story is much the same as above, but the approach in style is radically different. Taking a considerable influence from my childhood love of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, the marionette would be more human in its appearance, much like Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation. The song has a very 1960s vibe about it, thanks to Nouvelle Vague's bossa nova-style arrangements, which led me to the idea of using Gerry Anderson's style to interpret the music. This idea also led me to the idea of using snippets of live action footage interspliced in select segments of the video, as it was common in Supermarionation that a marionette's eyes, mouth or hands would be substituted for those of a live actor for close-up shots. The environment could either be an homage to Anderson's 1960's, googie aesthetic or in a setting that completely contrasts the marionette, reinforcing the themes of restricted or conflicted life choices, such as a marionette in a business suit residing in a slum.

I've had quite a few ideas, although they're all just flashes of influence from all over the place, as opposed to a cemented concept, but hopefully after Thursday's tutorial, the path will be made a little clearer.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Stevie P :)

    Survey time again! See link...