“The heart wants what it wants”
This is a fucked up quote to choose. I know. But this is a fucked up video. I was approached by my friends at All Ages Productions about directing a video for a pop songwriter named Sterling Fox. Sterling has worked with some big names (Britney Spears, Lana Del Rey, Avicii) but has decided to strike out on his own with a project called Baby FuzZ. Like all music videos I make, I want them to be collaborative, and what better way to ensure that the idea has buy-in from all sides than to develop it together. Our early conversations centered around crazy, campy art from the 80s and 90s, specifically the weird raunchy puppets from Meet the Feebles. I pitched a vibrant, silly, modern take, and off we went.
I’ve been striving to develop in three areas of my work: art direction, irreverence, and density—and this music video was the perfect place to try out some new ideas. I called in my favorite people—Tamarama Studios for the puppets, and Phil at FreshFly for the cinematography. I wanted this video to be rich with texture and character, have a strange and upbeat visual feel, and for it to be packed with as many twists and sight gags as possible. I did all the graphic design, including the titles, the wall art, magazine, cereal, and photos. Practically every shot has some small detail to enjoy. A peak into the process is below, it’s a good case study in how to create a music video start to finish.
Behind the scenes
Tamara Studios designed, built, and operated the two puppets—Donna, and the other puppet that we affectionately referred to as “Dead Eyes.” From first conception through final build, Donna evolved quite a bit. I trusted Tammy’s instincts about materials and what was naturally funny.
It’s surprising how much a particular camera or lens influences how a character is perceived. In the weeks before shooting, we wanted to make sure that we were on the right track, so we went to Liberty Camera and tested out how Donna and Joe looked on various lenses. We also tested out gear for the snap zoom approach we used in the final third of the video to amp up the zany-ness.
Never one to miss an opportunity for a goofy custom prop, I was talking to the DP Phil about how she should be reading something inappropriate on the toilet, and he said casually “oh man, like something called ‘Smuppet’ and like that it was born. I found a VERY weird image on the back corners of reddit, and worked it into this wild piece.
I wrote a scene where Donna treats herself to breakfast cereal. I wanted something that rode the line between silly and weird and I couldn’t think of a real cereal that fit the bill, so I made my own.
Cell Phone History
One of my favorite moments was illuminating the backstory between Joe and Donna, told through the simple swiping through images on his phone. Because I could make these from scratch, I wanted there to be sight gags at every level.
We had a massive shot list (70+ shots), and three days to accomplish it. My goal was to balance focus with fun. As long as we made our days, let’s have the best time possible. The top of day one was rocky, but once we got into the flow, things took off. I’ve never had so much fun on a set in my life.