On this week’s episode, we discuss the filming process for the band’s music video for “Say You Want Me”. We would like to thank Stuart Attard for the track featured in the beginning and end of the video, Franco De Sousa for hosting, and Adrien Yiptong for talking with us.
Hello everyone, I am today’s host Franco DeSousa. On today’s episode we’re going to talk with Melissa, bassist of New Design, about filming the band’s most recent and only single “Say You Want Me.” So tell me a bit about the track.
“Say You Want Me” is different than the rest of the album. It’s the song that gets stuck in your head. That you listen to on repeat. It is more pop influenced than our other songs.
You know that “Say You Want Me” is repeated 22 times in the song?
We thought about adding different lyrics to the outro, but the demo was well received so went with it. And we also knew that we wanted to release the song with a music video, so we contacted our friend Adrien.
Adrien Yiptong, video director, editor, and colourist, went to school for Film and Television Production at Humber College. In 2015, he recorded a video for “I’ve Never Seen the Ocean” off the band’s full length album Far From Home. But most importantly, he’s a friend of the band’s.
We have received a lot of support from our friends and family over the last ten years of being in a band. They are the ones who come to your shows especially when you just start out. I remember countless shows where we carried all of our gear just to play to the sound guy and maybe one of our friends. A lot of our friends help us in various ways. One of our friends hosts our website, one designed our website, and another our shirt logos. In this video, our friend Janet said she’d star in our video when we asked her. There’s also a larger community of friends who, like Adrien, provide services we can use but with a friend’s discount.
I got the chance to talk to Adrien about his experiences working with New Design. This is what he said to say, “Working on videos with local bands is always a treat because I get to experience firsthand the amazing talent of upcoming creatives. I had already heard New Design a few times through shows around the city, and when they approached me to make a video for them, I was thrilled at the chance to produce content for a band that I feel generates some really strong conceptual and atmospheric sounds in their music. As a filmmaker, working on projects is generally enjoyable, but working with other artists you admire makes the experience all the more fun and worthwhile.” So tell me how came up with the concept for the music video?
Well I thought Joe’s original idea for the music video was pretty ingenious. It would feature a lead female actress and be filmed throughout Toronto and every venue she walks into we are playing. She would literally be unable to escape our band. It would be a humorous way to integrate Toronto’s music culture into the the video by showcasing all the venues downtown.
But logistically, with a tight time frame and an indie band’s budget, Joe’s idea wouldn’t be feasible.
We looked into pricing venue space. We even looked at hosting multiple shows in the various venues and recording the shots beforehand. Otherwise, we would have to load our gear in and out, ensure there were crowds. It just wasn’t something we were capable of pulling off.
But I really liked his idea so I started thinking, how can we adapt it into something we can do?
When we filmed with Adrien the first time, we went about it all wrong. “I’ve Never Seen the Ocean” had a simple concept. We were going to create a living room in the middle of the forest. We would pan between shots of the band playing in the forest and shots of each band member interacting with the living room in different ways.
We had chosen a location in the middle of a forest just up the street of two of our bandmates houses. With all our busy schedules, we planned to shoot the whole video in one day. It was a Sunday with breaking level humidity. The band and Adrien had packed all of our gear, a generator, and most of my furniture into the two vans we had available. After parking the car, we had to take out each item, walk it along this long winding pathway that crossed a park, went over a bridge, up a path, into the middle of a forest. By the time we had the living room setup, we were all covered in sweat and nowhere near ready to shoot. After that, we had to take the living room back to the car, carry all of our band equipment (amps, drums, mics) things that were never meant to be carried through the steep dirt just to film the band shots. So you can imagine this process was a bit daunting.
Together, New Design and Adrien learned valuable lessons for their future endeavors.
When we had filmed our first music video with Paul Duck, we had filmed each band member five times and the band several times together. We had ran through the same song for hours. And although, it would have been nice to have alternate shots to choose from, there was no way any of us had that kind of energy.
For those of you who don’t know, Paul Duck is a graduate of the TVNM program at Loyalist College. He is a freelance photographer and camera operator in television and film and has recorded music videos for many local bands, including Safe to Say and Elos Arma.
We knew that we wanted the video to be centered around a main character and not the band and since we were still working with a low budget we picked a series of public locations to film, and we contacted businesses that would allow us to use their space for free. We planned to shoot on two separate days, band shots on one and city shots on the other. And best of all, we had our friends there to help carry our stuff.
According to Adrien, “This time around they kept the production design and equipment lists very small and instead, focused on using locations to their advantage. For indie artists, this made for a very feasible shoot. He also enlisted a colleague of his to help manage the quick pace of filming. They shot most of the video in one day, with some pickup shots and band shots done later on due to weather conditions and the semantics of transporting band equipment. Overall, Adrien was happy with how “Say You Want Me” came together thanks to their efficient and smart use of resources.
We ended up coming up with a new idea. The main character had the song stuck in her head, but it was illustrated in a way that appeared that the song was actually following her everywhere she went. She goes into a record store, it plays, she gets into an Uber, and she’s blinking twice when she sees that it is playing in the car. As she walks across the street she passes the lyrics written in chalk along the path she takes. And she even sees it written on her coffee the barista hands her.
So how were you guys involved in the filming process?
Well that was our next concern: how can we integrate the band. So we took the “weirdness” a step further. Not only is the song following her but so is the band. It’s almost like an Easter egg, where the band is integrated into the background of every scene. Our drummer Zack is her Uber driver, and I am the barista who serves her drink. The band walks by her in Trinity Bellwoods, and she passes us sitting in a booth chatting on her way out of Quantum Coffee.
For the outro of the song, we wanted footage that kept up with the song’s energy. So lots of short clips. We would pan between shots of her walking through the city and the band playing until she eventually walks into the Cavern and there we are, but as the camera wraps around her, it’s revealed that we weren’t there at all.
What were some of the challenges you faced this time around?
Well that pillar in the middle of the front of the stage in the Cavern posed some problems until we thought, how can we use this to our advantage? That is actually how the idea of the wrap around shot at the end of the video came to be. When the camera finally wraps around her, we are playing, but then it wraps around and the stage is emptied.
There are also people in a lot of our shots that weren’t necessarily suppose to be there so it limited our options when picking which takes we liked best.
But the biggest challenge this time was really just driving in front of the Cavern to bring our gear when every street leading to it from the highway was closed for a marathon. I think it took us over an hour and a half to circle around. At that point we were probably better off parking and carrying our stuff.
Adrien successfully and skillfully executed the band’s vision. While reflecting on the experience, this is what he had to say, “When approached by a band, I feel that it’s important to make sure they feel that their ideas are well-represented. As an indie music video director, I’m in charge of converting the band’s ideas into the medium of film. This time around with New Design, I had a better understanding of my own capabilities, thanks to more experience in and out of school, which consequently, allowed me execute the ideas with greater success. As a filmmaker, working on project is generally enjoyable, but working with other artists you admire makes the experience all the more fun and worthwhile.”
And with those final words, this concludes our episode of The New Design Podcast.