Video Chats: Nathan Zasada on "Lullaby" by The Public Trust

Posted by Doug Klinger on June 25, 2013 in Interviews

Staff Post

Nathan Zasada

Often times when making a music video, you have to make some initial concessions. For example, if you’re making a music video with a large cast, in one shot, completely hand-held with your arms in front of an actress, you might not be able to use a heavier camera to shoot the video. Luckily, for director Nathan Zasada on the video for "Lullaby" by The Public Trust, he was able to find a suitable camera to fit the concept and the constraints. We talked to Nathan about the video, using the GH3 rather than the RED Scarlet, and knowing when you’ve got the right take. 

Doug: Where did the original concept for the video come from?

Nathan: The concept came from The Public Trust, itself - specifically, Tyler Fascett, the Lead Guitarist. They had approached us looking to make a video, and from the first meeting, there were some key points we all agreed on: The video should be simple, striking, and effective. In those early days, that was the mantra. We left that meeting with a plan to brainstorm a bunch of ideas and concepts, but it was the next day, or maybe the day after, when Tyler sent his proposal: Michael Rossi [the lead singer] sitting at a table, in a restaurant, while women passed behind him. A lot of the beats and ideas were present in this initial pitch, but the biggest difference was that the shot was locked-off, centered on Rossi the entire time. Rossi is a born entertainer and an electric performer, but I still had concerns that over the course of three minutes, the shot would get stale. So I suggested trying to shoot it from the POV of Rossi's date. That offered opportunities to play with the gimmick, and to look around and absorb the room and the girls a bit more. This is where everyone started to honestly get excited about the project. From here, the rest of the pieces fell into place fairly quickly.

Doug: How did you achieve the POV effect?

Nathan: The biggest concern through pre-production was how we were going to nail the POV aspect, because if that didn't work, the video wouldn't work. From the start, we'd intended to shoot on a RED Scarlet, so our first concerns were how to make that work: An easy-rig? One of the first meetings after settling on the concept was a technical rehearsal to see if that was even possible, and much to our chagrin, the body of the RED was just too big, we couldn't get close enough to our actress - "The Hands", as we referred to her, shorthand (no pun intended) - to effectively look down at ourselves and make that POV play. Later that evening, we were sitting around the "Robot House," and I noticed someone had brought their GH3 in. On a lark, I had my producer sit down at the table, and I stood behind him with my arms over his shoulders and the GH3 directly in front of his face. "Stop moving. Put your hands flat on the table and look down at them," I said, and that was the first time we were treated to the distinctive image of hands on the table-top that opens the video. And at this point, we breathed a massive collective sigh of relief, because we knew, conclusively, that if nothing else, the POV worked. The handheld over the shoulder approach is how we rehearsed, and how Ryan Cole, our DP, shot it on the actual day. Using the GH3 over the RED was a compromise in image quality that was justified by the sheer number of creative options the smaller camera body offered us.

Nathan Zasada

Doug: With a one shot video, especially one with such a large cast, I have to ask: How many takes? And how long did you guys rehearse?

Nathan: We had a lot of rehearsals going into this, 3 days worth, but it was primarily camera rehearsal and rehearsal for Rossi, with stand-ins for missing actors. The morning of the shoot was the first time we actually had all of the talent gathered in one place, but we'd braced ourselves for some sloppy and loose business as we got up to speed. In all honesty, though, it wasn't even as difficult as we'd anticipated. These women and men were professionals. They came prepared, were each kind and courteous, and were totally gung-ho for everything. It was 29 takes, total, but those include partial and flubbed takes, and truth be told, we could've gone on for hours before any of those smiles faltered. But obviously, it didn't come to that - take 29 was the big winner.

Doug: What was it about the take you used that made it the best?

Nathan: Rossi had asked going into it, "How will you know when you've got it?" I'd said, "Don't worry, we'll know." And I knew at the beginning of that last take that it was a keeper; right off the rip, everything was clicking: The colors of the house lights and the cues they changed on, the timing of the girls' passes, Rossi's energy. There's a moment after one of the lovely ladies pushes his head where the camera snaps back to Rossi, and he's looking at us, wearing a sly, half-smile - that moment is real. He's genuinely amused by everything that's happening around him and is actually enjoying himself. I was pretty certain before, but at that moment I knew, conclusively, that this was the one we were using.

Nathan Zasada

Doug: Because of the single shot, was there additional work that had to be done in post to achieve the look you wanted, like adding camera movements, or working with the lighting and coloring? 

Nathan: We did some tweaking in post with stabilizing and color correcting, but by and large, what we rehearsed is what we shot and what we presented. In those last few days before the shoot, we were exhaustive in mapping everything out and thinking around corners, so when it finally came time to call "Action!", there wouldn't be any surprises. It was an arduous process, but the proof is in the pudding, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the the band, the actors and actresses, and the final product. We wrapped two hours early, and the highest compliment I can pay the cast and crew is that after a 4:30 am call time and 29 takes, everybody walked out smiling. That's rare, and I'm grateful for everyone's specific contributions.

lullaby, nathan zasada, the public trust, 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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