florence_ship_to_wreckStolen Shots is a column in which our bud, fellow director Caleb Jackson picks apart some music videos that we love. Check out what he’s got to say, because it’s awesome.

I’m getting really used to this idea of music videos that connect as a series. Not sequels per se, but a collection of videos from the same artist which exist in the same world, whether it’s through direct narrative or thematic/visual signifiers. That seems to be the case with the Dance Mom’s famed Maddie Ziegler Sia videos, which share a choreographer and distinct stylistic flourishes in Florence + The Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Odyssey, while The Soft Moon’s “Far” and “Wasting” connect through narrative.

For “Ship to Wreck”, Florence’s fourth entry in the How Big Odyssey, she deals with much more dramatic emotions, namely resentment, self destruction, and anger, which are a contrast to the video’s more milder predecessors. That said, this song is more chaotic, so it makes sense that the choreography and narrative are more violent and jumpy. She deals with her feelings so blatantly sung in the song that it just makes sense. “Did I build this ship to wreck?” is the question, and it seems to have no answer. She grapples with herself, her lover, and the people around her, all screaming for them to tell her, and ultimately ends with her passed out next to a bunch of pills on the floor. There can be some metaphorical connections to suicide here – is this the metaphorical end of the video series? I hope not!

As per usual, the technical qualities of this vid are spot on and have a combination of realism and fantasy that sets this one apart. To me, “St. Jude” felt very surreal, even to the point of feeling like a video game, mostly following from the back and anticipating what was happening next. “What Kind of Man” felt much more grounded, lighting patterns more about practicality than creating a specific feeling. This one feels more like that, while switching interchangeably to stark red lighting in a few setups; I’ve never seen anything like that before!

The Soft Moon’s “Wasting” really blew me away as well. While this video is much different, it takes what was established in “Far” and directly moves forward with it. “Far” explores the duality of identity, and ends with the MC waking up in a bath of foggy water. The previous vid was more about identity crisis and perhaps undergoing some kind of birth-like transformation – “Wasting” is what happens after. Here the video’s protagonist is wheeled into a room where he gets a shot from veteran actor Robert Forster and is shown large amounts of images in mind-numbing, Clockwork Orange fashion.  I relate it to that sequence of The Matrix when Neo takes the red pill and wakes up in a pod with many wires and tubes hooked into him.

“Wasting” doesn’t have as much diversity in setting and content, but places more focus on minimalism. Utilizing more actors and complex lighting this time out made for a different kind of video, and definitely created some incredibly mesmerizing imagery – it really fits the song too. This track is a slower, darker, and has more of a Shlomo vibe to it, as opposed to “Far” which is faster, and has more of a Nine inch Nails feel. Director duo Y2K have definitely earned their place in my book as great directors. Check out their other stuff here! They have a cool style that usually revolves around a visually amazing sci-fi element. Overall, this vid took what was established and expanded the world more – I wanna see what’s next!

Caleb

Caleb Jackson is a director/writer/producer at Felt Film. He’s got some more music video reviews at Lowlyer.