by Adam Hirsch
Maybe it was 3am. Maybe it was 4am — I can’t remember. But one night in late April, Matt Paley and I were standing at the edge of a pool in Brentwood, steeling ourselves against an improbably cold California rain and dreary temperatures, looking down at Purity Ring‘s Megan James waist deep in the freezing water, covered in black tentacles and slime, a bed floating along behind her, directors Ben and Alex Brewer in their wetsuits at her side, vibrating from the cold and their ninety-ninth cup of black coffee, and we knew everything had quietly (shooting all night — under the radar — in Los Angeles necessitates absolute silence, in case you’re wondering) come together. It was a perfect, delirious moment of filmmaking.
by Matt Paley
Oh my god, it’s finally here.
This was one of those projects. None of the lovely people — Lily Susskind, my mighty co-director; Matt Ferro, our genius behind the camera; STE’s own Jake Teresi, our enabler, producer, and host in New Orleans; Carsie Blanton, our musical muse and sponsor – had any idea if and when it would suddenly (in my unsteady hands) transform itself into something lovely, hard and brilliant, and I had only the slightest inkling (and only sometimes).
Certainly, it was a project with the makings of something good. Carsie had managed to round up a veritable who’s who of the world’s greatest swing dancers – Chance Bushman, Giselle Anguizola, Peter Loggins, Amy Johnson, Reuel Reis, Laura Manning and Lisa Casper — and we’d constructed a tiny crew equally versed in dance and film primed to push the boundaries of the dance on film we’d seen before. Thanks to the generosity and excitement of the performers who joined us, our time in New Orleans and the footage we’d collected was unbelievable. But in the editing process, trying to capture the spirit of all of these dancers and their opposing styles, to respect the dance and still cut it mercilessly, to delight in the magic of New Orleans without reverting to cliché, and above all to fit everything into barely three minutes of song seemed an impossible task.
And yet, at long last, here it is! Shot in the streets of the 8th Ward, inside a St. Charles streetcar, on the balcony of Mimi’s in the Marigny, and in the abandoned Six Flags in Michoud, Baby Can Dance is a celebration of life and joy and dance and a city that’s always pregnant with all three. Please enjoy.
by Matt Paley
I first visited New Orleans this past February and — like nearly everyone I know who’s made the trip — I found myself quickly ensnared in nets of magic and, from the very moment I left, anxious to return. How lucky I was to find myself, not three months later, back in Nola at the helm of a project that combined so many of my favorite things: a lovely folk singer, some extraordinary dancers, nightclubs, streetcars, and an abandoned six flags… the result (in whatever forms it settles into, still very much a mystery) is the Baby Can Dance project, a collaboration with Lily Susskind, Founder of Baltimore’s Effervescent Collective, and folk singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton and her delirious mix of folk, pop, jazz and, in this case, swing.
Carsie, Lily, the insanely talented Matt Ferro (whose camerawork can be seen in Pitkoff’s La Vie and No Sleep) and I descended on New Orleans (and on STE’s own Jake Teresi, who produced the hell out of this crazy shoot) and came together with a number of the very best swing dancers in New Orleans — and, thusly, the world — to photograph their dancing in ways it hadn’t been captured before. I think we very much succeeded. Below is a first little taste of what we’re playing with, featuring Laura Manning and Reuel Reis.
Much more to come.
After months of delay and speculation, Kanye West’s “Monster” music video was finally released a few days ago. The video’s display of misogeny, paired with sexually violent overtones, confirms the preconceived judgment of many cynics who previewed an unfinished leak that made its way onto the web back in December. But while everyone else focuses on the graphic content and imagery, I believe there’s a more fundamental criticism to be leveled: the video lacks a major and essential element - honesty.
In any music video, the filmed piece needs to compliment the established audio track. The vigorous and spirited song, which is filled with intense lyrical intonation, clashes with the visually emotionless, slow-paced video performance. In most instances, a proper video requires an artist who acts as an engaging storyteller. In this case, we have artists who are removed from their audience, as well as their environment (only Nicki Minaj’s performance seems properly paired). Why, considering the confrontational and direct nature of the song, do I feel Kanye is only comfortable scratching the surface of the idea here? What could he be hiding?
What do you think? Check it out here!