on Kelsea Ballerini's 'homecoming queen?' music video
Q: You’ve collaborated with Kelsea before, was this video also a collaboration? How was the creative settled on?
A: My work with Kelsea is always so collaborative, which is one of the reasons, I think, that we’ve had such creative success together. I was told that they wanted something vulnerable and authentic. My mind immediately raced to different ways that we could touch on Kelsea’s vulnerability without over playing it (these videos can get melodramatic quick). The other challenge was to find a unique way to keep things simple that hadn’t been done a million times before. I remember sitting in my office watching old videos and trying to think of the perfect solution and that’s when it hit me, I have been shooting music videos for almost 20 years and I have ALWAYS wanted to use motion control, but never had the opportunity. I immediately got on the phone with my producer and pitched her the idea and she was like “That’s it!” So we got on a call with Kelsea and her team and we hammered out the details.
Q: Let's get into the details... How did you set the scene?
A: I wanted to focus the attention on Kelsea while having the world around her strip away. This meant I had to plan out exactly what kind of room we were going to build, down the exact dimensions as well as what kind of props and furniture we were going
to use. I wanted the green room to feel like something raw and real that you mind find at the Forum or a venue like that. Kelsea really wanted to use her actual wardrobe pieces and things that she keeps in her green rooms. So we coordinated the details of the room weeks before the shoot. It was then my task to figure out how to make the gimmick work where the camera circles her in seemingly one take motion while the world around her disappears. This is where motion control comes in. This bit of technology allows you to repeat a certain move of the camera, the exact same speed and motion for countless takes.
Q: Tell us about motion control... What goes into that process?
A: Over the course of the next week I mapped out the different circular passes that we would have to do in order to make the right things appear and disappear at the right times. First I needed to get the racks of close and furniture out, and then I wanted to remove the walls 180 degrees at a time and then finally strip down KB’s glam so we could end up with her most natural vulnerable self. So we would do a full pass of the song for each level of break down. First we do the pass with her in full glam and a full set. Then we remove half the furniture and do another full pass, then the other half, another full pass, two of the set walls, then another pass, and then the final walls. Our last passes around Kelsea were around her in sweats with make up on, and then her in sweats without make up on.
(And yes she had to pull those eyelashes off a number of times in order for us to have some choices as to where that would happen in the final video). Off course in addition the removal of props and walls we did two full passes where we included the younger versions of Kelsea, imagery that I believe is relatable to all of us.
Q: How did it all come together?
A: The real magic was stitching together the different passes in a way that felt seamless, as though we never cut away from the action. For this I had to map out cut points that our visual effects team, Nocturnal FX, could use as anchors. We worked together for at least a week and a half mapping out these moments so that, when on set, we would be able to capture the right shots in the right manner that they could successfully execute their skills. And they CRUSHED IT!!!
Q: What does this video mean to you as a director?
A: I am beyond proud to have been a part of such an incredible production and to have had the chance to work with Kelsea on something incredibly meaningful and special. Huge shout out to Black River Entertainment, Taillight, Chandra LaPlume, Andrew Sandler, Maz Makhani, Nocturnal FX and of course none of this happens without Jason Owen.