Jasper Baydala, Evan Prosofsky, and Emily Kai Bock, are all filmmakers living in Montreal who are part of the Arbutus Records family. This collectivist scene has a lot of that kind of incestuous love that happens between artists, because everyone does everything. For instance, Emily has both been in and created music videos for the artist Grimes, and Emily and Evan have made a music video for Jasper, and Jasper has made a music video for Tops, a band with a singer named Jane Penny, who also happened to be in the Grimes video that Emily was in. You get the picture; they are all buddies and when they need help with their projects they call each other. We figured it wouldn't be awkward for them to talk to each other in an interview style, so they got in a chatroom and asked each other questions for us. Along with several of each of their videos, we are also premiering Jasper's latest: a seven-minute VHSer for Les Momies de Palerme. Also, it would be rude not to mention that Evan has a really cool movie he's trying to fund on IndieGoGo for the sound design for a film called Waterpark. He's only got $70 or so left at the time of this writing, but it didn't have anything to do with us. I'm sure he just let all of his friends know that he needed a hand.
Jasper: With music videos you're working with musicians who have big ideas about themselves. Does your vision even come into conflict with that?
Emily: I think it's pretty normal that its a conversation between all members involved. Like, there was this instance with Claire where I wanted to add a scene of varsity hazing rituals to the “Oblivion” video and she wasn't as keen. I think if you're using musician as lead actors and their music as a score to your concept then you have to respect their input, and I don't think I'd want it any another way. What's interesting about the video we made for you [Ed. note: Kool Music 5, “Running Back to Everyone”] is that we told you it was going to be for another musician and that we wanted to use you as an actor – by the time the edit came together your music was just more appropriate. i wonder if you would have agreed to concept had we'd approached you with the idea before the shoot, maybe you wouldn't have.
Jasper: Probably not.
Evan: I think the thing is, regardless of the final product, whether it be a short film, a feature, commercial, etc. there's always going to be money involved, a producer involved, and so on, so you're always partially at the whim of other people. I guess if you want final cut, you gotta buy it. Basically. Unless you're Kubrick.
Emily: Haha! I thought you typed Kai Bock.
Jasper: But you've got to work within the image of the musician, their character – as opposed to working with actors and actresses who are more like hammers and nails. The musicians, they could squash it. I'm thinking of that video you tried to make for Sean (Sean Nicholas Savage) in the Rockies. He wasn't happy with how he came off in it, so he squashed it. Whereas if he were an actor not a musician he would have had no say. So, there's always that danger.
Evan: Well, at least in Hollywood, a lot of big actors have final cut over their scenes. For instance, if Tom Cruise doesn't like the cut of the climax fight scene in MI4 he can change that shit however he wants. But in regards to Sean, I think that was a blessing, because if someone doesn't speak up, then what is the point of collaboration?
Jasper: So, collaboration is the word.
Evan: For me it is. If I wanted to work alone I'd make animations in my room or something
Emily: I like film because it's the most collaborative art process I've ever experienced. There is a potential for ideas to breathe and bounce between all these creative folk that approach art differently – how a musician sees the world is different from a filmmaker, or a dancer, actor, etc. You are employing all this creativity out of necessity to make a film happen.
Evan: I'm not an inherently creative person.
Emily:; That's not true.
Evan: Well, what I mean to say is, I'm not the most creative on my own. What I like most is being given a challenge of producing images that fits within a framework for the video, and the happy accidents you get from other peoples ideas/input are always the most gratifying, magical moments, for sure.
Jasper: I wanna talk about my Elvis movie somehow.
Evan: Ok. We can do that. Here, let me ask you some questions.
Evan: So Jasper, from the start you seemed to be just as interested in camera as you were in acting. Is it difficult for you to separate the two? Did you want to look through the viewfinder and see what every shot looked like? And, if so, how do you think that would have affected your performance?
Jasper: Mostly, I wanted to ditch you guys and make it myself. But I tried to forget myself and do everything you told me and keep my mouth shut, which is what I'd expect if I made a movie.
Evan: Hm. Interesting.
Jasper: Which I guess is different than your collaboration thing.
Emily: I appreciated your trust. We had crammed the shoot into one weekend. It was stressful trying to fit it all in, and you were open to things on the spot. You jumped into action whenever I asked you to, like when we finally found the pond – we only had ten minutes to shoot, and you got in the water immediately even though it was freezing. You really trusted me on that one.
Evan: And somehow we found one RIGHT as the light was fading. We were literally running for wood, So i'd have enough exposure to shoot the scene. And it worked out perfectly somehow. It was exactly how I envisioned it. I think thats the only scene I'm happy with, photographically at least. Haha.
Jasper: Do music videos have any real significance?
Emily: They could be like training wheels for feature films. A lot of directors start by making music videos and commercials. But I think music videos themselves are a really a special medium, because they are as filmic as music gets, and music is pretty filmic already on it's own. It's an interesting exchange. It's also cool to think about lyrics as a vague narration, with the option of reading into them or completely ignoring them. the video we made for your song sounded like a soundtrack from the start. It was just about looking for the images with the right emotional temperature to match the sounds. Images can also really complete a song. I've had the experience of liking a song more, or being more emotionally impacted by a song because of its video. They say that film is roughly 80% sound, but I think it can go either way.
Evan: As an image-maker it's really fun for me, because inherently music videos typically feature so many styles/locations. But I think now, it's grown into something larger. I sort of have a love affair with music videos and the bands I get to make them for. I think that music videos are probably going to become really vital in the future. It's something Emily and I were talking about last night… The thing is, people's attention spans are getting so goddamn small.
Jasper: You think you'll continue making music videos forever? For the rest of your life? Any plans to make a 3D feature?
Jasper: You should!
Evan: I guess I'm a bit of a purist, but if the right job came around, I'd definitely do it.
Jasper: What is that Wim Wenders thing?
Evan: It's all about telling a story for me, and if 3D enhanced that in some way then, yeah why not. Are you thinking of Pina?
Jasper: The dance movie.
Evan: Yep, thats Pina. Did you see it?
Jasper: I didn't see it but I heard it's cool.
Emily: I saw it twice, it's unbelievable. It's weird because it's a documentary but also a retrospective of all her work.
Evan: Yeah. It's incredible!