Video Chats: NORTON on 'Dancing Out' by French Horn Rebellion

Posted by Doug Klinger on June 11, 2013 in Interviews

Staff Post


Director NORTON knows a thing or two about dancing. His video "Killer Shoes" (an unofficial video for "Devotion" by Kap Bambino) features a pair of low top converse dancing aggressively throughout the city. For his latest video, “Dancing Out” by French Horn Rebellion, he hangs onto the dancing, but trades the aggression for awkward sexiness. Starring Jonathan Selvadurai and Jessica O'Hara-Baker as a couple of dancing lovebirds, the video is tons of fun and fits perfectly with the tone of the song. We talked to NORTON about the video, casting, dance, and working with choreographer Devon Smith.

Doug: The concept fits great with the song, what was the original idea inspired by?

NORTON: Thanks! I don't remember exactly how the whole idea came about but I think it stemmed from the end bit in the song, this super cheesy, almost Baywatch music that was screaming for that ending. It's actually one of the first notes I can find on the video: "must end with cheesy sunset shot of boy and girl at the beach and rack focus to French horn on the sand with the out of focus silhouetted couple in the background." In reality we ended up shooting in freezing cold February in New York, with the actors really struggling to keep warm. In post, I replaced the grey beach, ocean, and sky with the cheesy sunset I had envisioned. Then the rest was inspired by an ex-girl of mine who just couldn't, for the life of her, dance to the beat of a song. The lyrics "we moved to the dance beat/to a different drum" brought those memories back.


Doug: The characters in the video are absolutely perfect, what was the casting process like for the video?

NORTON: For the guy, we were unbelievably lucky to have discovered this brilliant dancer Jonathan Selvadurai, or just Jono, who had just moved from New Zealand. I showed everybody at the auditions the Michael Jackson video for "Beat It" and asked them to replicate his exaggerated spring-like turns and overly dramatic attitude, and Jono got it instantly. It takes a good actor to fake-act really well, and he did that beautifully. At the end of his audition, I just couldn't hide my excited smile, practically giving him the part on the spot. Casting the girl was tougher, because there were a couple of girls that were really good. But my friend Jessica O'Hara-Baker, whom I've seen dance many times, just kinda nailed the dorky/sexy combo. We had actually performed the "window dance" featured in the flashbacks to the embarrassed eyes of our friends and strangers alike in NY clubs, so I knew she had the balls to look ridiculous in front of people.

Doug: How did the band feel about having other people lip sync their lyrics in their music video?

NORTON: The band was amazing in this! Their first reaction to the treatment, and I'm quoting from their email, was: "HOT DAMN THATS IT!!!!!!!!!!! wooohooooo!" They just felt I had tapped in to the spirit of French Horn Rebellion and were incredibly supportive of my vision, which included having other people perform their vocals. Actually, the vocals on the record are performed by the legendary Grammy-winner Jody Watley, while Young Empires perform the first male vocals and then Robert from the band performs the rest. So that would've been a mess!

Live action previsualization video

Doug: What was the process like working with choreographer Devon Smith?

NORTON: Devon was amazing, she was a suggestion from the producer John Seabright. With the little time she had she put together this perfect choreography. I literally got to the rehearsal studio, saw the dance once and only had one minor note on a move and that was it. I'll work with Devon again in a heartbeat!

Doug: Do you think dance can play an important role in music videos? Dance features heavily not only in this video, but in your "Killer Shoes" video as well.

NORTON: I actually love dance in music videos and would love to bring more of it back when it's appropriate for a track. I look at current videos and miss the beauty of well shot, edited and choreographed dances. I guess we did have "Single Ladies"...

Doug: Your last video, "Sunrise," is a bit darker than this one. Is humor and light heartedness something you're just looking to explore in this video? Or can we expect more of this from you?

NORTON: I really like writing to tracks I'm in love with and at the end of the day it really comes down to what the track is speaking to me. There's a certain pressure on me to make the next "shoes" video, but I hope to surprise people with different and equally good videos. Humor is a big part of who I am, so it's safe to say that it'll be featured in projects to come.

dancing out, french horn rebellion, norton, 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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