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Video Chats: Ellis Bahl on "The War" by Josh Record

Posted by Doug Klinger on July 11, 2013 in Interviews

Staff Post

Ellis Bahl

There have been plenty of songs and music videos about relationship troubles. However, not many of those videos take the approach that Ellis Bahl took for the video for "The War" by Josh Record, where the troubles are reflected not only in Josh’s performance, but in the atmosphere and actions of the video. We talked to Ellis about the video, working with DP Steve Annis, and making an “effecty" looking video without any post effects.

Doug: Was the concept of this video based mainly on the lyrics? Was there a brief along with the project?

Ellis: The brief asked for a beautiful, moving, emotive, masculine, cinematic piece that avoided generic folk imagery/nature and featured Josh in a non-conventional performance. The concept came out of some photographs that i'd been thinking about, there's one of a woman dancing with a sheet over her head that inspired the specter lady. And then I created a vague storyline based on the lyrics to help thread all the images I had into a congruous emotional arc.

Doug: There are a lot of YouTube comments from people in the US bummed out that this song isn't available out here yet. Was appealing to an American audience part of the goal of this video?

Ellis: Haha, I'm not sure about any of that. My job as I understand it is to make a video that's compelling in some way and mindful of the artist.

Ellis Bahl

Doug: Objects appear to float around in this video as if they are underwater, how did you achieve this effect? Was most of it done practically?

Ellis: One of my personal goals in making this video was to make an "effecty" looking video without the use of any post effects. So everything you see in the video we made in the studio. The floating things are bullrush shavings being blown right in front of the lens. The combination of the bullrush floaties and throwing the subjects out of focus and playing everything in slow motion makes it look underwater.

Doug: You worked with DP Steve Annis on this video, who is pretty legendary in the music video industry. What was it like to work with him, and what did he bring to the project?

Ellis: Steve is one of those guys that has an uncanny ability to find the sweet spot of any shot. That really amazes me, because I'm a terrible photographer. He's a very driven individual, very concerned with getting the best possible image. I appreciate that. It makes me seem more talented.

Ellis Bahl

Doug: What were your performance directions to Josh? Did you ask for a more emotional performance out of him, or is that what he naturally gave you?

Ellis: I told Josh to really think about the song and what it meant to him and I told him he wasn't allowed to move his head. So, he really expressed himself through his eyes and I tried to capture that as best I could. He's a natural performer and getting good performance from him was a breeze.

Doug: There is a female character in this video as well, covered from head to toe in white cloth. What were your goals for this character, and what did her actions and costume represent?

Ellis: I wanted her to be elegant and disturbing at the same time. In preproduction I kept calling her 'the dancer', but then during the shoot, I realized that she did very little dancing. And she was doing much more acting. And I realized that her character was a character and not a set piece. And so in the edit I tried to make her seem in control of time and make her seem pained in some way. To me, she represents a few things. The end of a relationship, how time effects relationships, and struggle within a relationship. So, I guess she represents difficulty in a relationship.


ellis bahl, josh record, the war, 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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