Video Chats: Ellen Frances on 'Disconnected' by The Reflections

Posted by Doug Klinger on November 23, 2012 in Interviews

Staff Post

Ellen Frances

The video for "Disconnected" by The Reflections follows the path of a New York City subway car as it travels through a world of colorful flashing lights and shapes. Director Ellen Frances shot the video between midtown and City Hall the week before Hurricane Sandy. We talked to Ellen about how she was able to successfully shoot a video from a subways car, and what affect the storm had on the project.

Doug: What was the original inspiration behind the concept of the video?

Ellen: The Reflections got in touch with me after they saw my video "Right Way" premiere on VICE. They seemed really chill, low maintenance and sure of the direction they wanted to go in, which was a great combo for me because I'm currently working on a variety of projects at a variety of crazy production scales. Darian sent me a clip on YouTube as inspiration. It was essentially just a shot from a car driving as lights passed.

Doug: What did the treatment for this video look like?

Ellen: After I listened to the song for a while I was really torn between going in a somewhat narrative direction to depict the lyrics more literally and going towards a very minimal direction in terms of storyline. I wrote up a treatment that had two troubled lovers in it and one is leaving on a train. I sent it to Darian, and after thinking it over for a while we agreed that we both actually wanted to go with as little narrative as possible.

Ellen Frances

Doug: How did the shooting of the video technically work? What did you do to capture the footage?

Ellen: I took a 7D SLR out in Time Square and shot on a tripod. I did very detailed shots of marquees and patterned lights all around 42nd street. When I took that camera on the train though, I realized it was going to cause some trouble. Because of not wanting to knock the lens around on the jerky train ride, I was keeping a distance between the camera and the glass. This was picking up not only my reflection but some passengers faces, which for legal reasons I really did not want. I had recently read an article about several well received music videos shot on iPhones, so that idea popped into my head. I've never really shot a job on an iPhone, but it was something I wanted to try. It was the perfect solution because I could press the flat iPhone up against the back of the train window and get more of the tunnel and less of the light inside of the car.

Doug: Was their a particular destination or path for the video?

Ellen: The subway footage was all shot on the ACE line and the NR line going from midtown to City Hall. I didn't really chose a path, I just got on the last car of whichever train I was closest to that day and shot through the window.

Ellen Frances

Ellen on the ACE line.

Doug: The video was shot prior to Hurricane Sandy, and obviously since then the NYC subway system has been through a lot. Do you think the storm will impact the public's perception of the video at all?

Ellen: The last shoot took place the night they shut down the subway system. There were all of these signs taped up that said the subway was closing in a few hours, but I needed some more footage at the last minute, so I just got on the train and rode it for a while. The video was actually scheduled to come out the week of the hurricane and I think it would have been a more interesting story from a PR perspective if it had come out while the subway system was still shut down, but the hurricane actually delayed the premiere of the video on Impose Magazine, so by the time of it's release the lines were all back up and running.

Doug: What about for you personally, does the video take on a new meaning for you after the storm?

Ellen: It did affect me, the connection to the storm and the timing etc. I gave a lot of the money I made off of the video to several local organizations who were, and are still, out in the hardest hit areas helping victims of the storm - one being Occupy Sandy. I also made several large orders of supplies, flashlights, diapers etc, and had them shipped out to areas of Brooklyn. I was lucky to have lived in an area of Manhattan that was not remotely affected by the storm, and I just felt that so many others were more in need of funds or groceries than I was. It seemed fitting that the video should have this deeper connection to New York, and at least for me, now it does.

disconnected, ellen frances, the reflections, video chats

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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