Screaming Females - Mourning Dove (Music Video)
In the summer of 2022 the band Screaming Females contacted me and Kate Sweeney to create a video for their 2023 album, Desire Pathway. With the help of the band, a small crew, and our friends, we spent the next few months developing, producing, directing, and editing the music video for Mourning Dove, which released in February 2023.
Concept & Development
The band gave us a lot of creative freedom, with only a truly DIY budget as a constraint. That, plus the request to make this a performance-focused production. A lot of my videos have a narrative element or visual experimentation as a focal point, so this was a chance to focus on something different. Our aim was to make a compelling video by focusing on the band, the shots, the editing, and the set design.

A chief inspiration was that Screaming Females is really fun to watch live. I've seen them a few times and when I'm not caught up in the music, I'm noticing the band's stage presence. Sometimes, I'm even noticing how other people watch the band. A few years ago I made an animated video for the lead singer/guitar player Marissa Paternoster's solo project, Noun. While the video was well-received, I did notice a few comments lamenting not being able to see Marissa play in the video itself. So, focusing on capturing great performers on stage became the central goal of the production.
Marissa is also an accomplished artist whose illustration style is a defining aesthetic aspect of the band. After seeing some early concepts for the album art, we conceived of a stage design that incorporated Marissa's art -- as if the band was living inside of it. The band was on board, as long as we could implement it!
Much of my role in the pre-production involved securing equipment for our shoot day and preparing the stage props and design. After identifying a shooting space -- Philadelphia's historic PhilaMOCA art center -- I was able to use Blender to design a 3D prototype of the set and understand the dimensions of the art that we needed to create. I worked with Marissa to get our art assets together. After she delivered the art, I spent the next month upscaling and repainting the illustrations to be anywhere between 3' and 6' tall.
Painting everything was extremely time-consuming. In hindsight, I probably should not have done this; Kate and I hunted for large pieces of used cardboard on the streets of Brooklyn to paint. We had painting parties. I filled up my apartment with reproductions of Marissa's art. I overspent on paint, and any the time investment whittled my compensation down to pennies on the hour. I bring this up to say that producing and directing music videos is, by and large, not about, and cannot be about making money. It's a sad truth, but the time and skill it takes to make a creative, high-quality video is usually at odds with the value the video has to the band. In order to reconcile this, in my view, I think you have to pursue your creative vision with some disregard for cost. That is why I generally don't charge for directing videos -- I see creating these videos as an investment in my friends, artists I like and want to support, and in myself, as someone looking for experience pursuing my creative vision.
Filming took place over 2 days in January 2023. I created a shot list and worked with Kate to create a shooting schedule. Our shooting schedule included setting up the set on the first day, programming the lights, makeup, food, planning for extras to come on day 2, etc. The days were completely packed and the shoot was difficult because of the amount of set ups, our small crew, and our limited time at PhilaMOCA. We only had a short time after filming to review our footage before the next day of filming. It's good we did though -- there were some shots I needed to get again!
Reviewing the behind the scenes pictures, I think the band had a great time on set. Being "on" for the entire shoot, I hardly remember any of it at all. I was pretty much focused for 48 hours straight.

About 2/3 of the video was filmed with specific shots in mind. The remainder was filmed as "band coverage" -- with 4-5 cameras running on the band. I supplied all the gear for the shoot. The star players for me were my Panasonic GH6 camera, a 10-25mm f1.7 lens, a Zyiun Steadicam, and an Aputure Lightstorm Bicolor LED spotlight. My camera set up gave me a ton of flexibility to film stationary, dollying, panning, spinning, etc. while minimizing downtime changing my set up.
Post-production on this project was on a tight timeline. I originally hired an editor to work on the video with me, but I quickly ran out of money to pay for their services. Because of the quick turnaround and lack of funds, that meant I would take over editing and finish the project. Around this time, my personal computer's screen failed, and I had to quickly find a replacement to finish the video. Our desire to make the video as good as possible meant that I was working until 1-3AM every night for multiple weeks, on top of my day job. This was definitely unhealthy and I don't want to think about it. This is a core pitfall of my approach to "freelancing" that I mentioned above. The money and resources aren't there to make this make sense, so you do things because you care about making good work. When push comes to shove, it's too easy to prioritize the work over your own well-being. The work needs to be completed. You'll live. I would never wish this crunch-time work style on anyone, but I am somehow able to inflict it upon myself. I need to work on that in the future and set better boundaries for myself.
The video was released on February 15, 2023 as part of the media campaign to promote the new record. I think it was received well, with many comments complimenting the editing, the artwork, and the stage design. Sitting at 161,000 views on YouTube, it is definitely one of the most-seen things I've made. I'm proud to have made it with Kate. I learned a lot from her about producing videos. She was able to find and organize our crew and keep us on track to complete the video under the budget we were allowed -- those are things I cannot do! She also gave a lot of editing notes that helped the video become as polished as it is.

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