Making of “Time vs. Money” Part 3 of 4, Shaun Clarke (Director)

Shaun Clarke, director of “Time vs. Money”, is someone we’ve worked with a few times now – first when he directed an interactive video for our song “How Does It Feel to Be in Love?” in 2011, and later when he worked as cinematographer on our short film “Every Little Thing You Love” in 2012.  Everything we’ve ever seen from Shaun is beautiful – he has an amazing eye, an admirable work ethic, and is an all around good dude.  He’s written some fantastic insights into the making of our newest video here, so let’s get to it:

I am a big fan of The Bynars, and “Time vs. Money” ranks up there with one my favorite songs that they have produced. I first chatted with Matt and Mike about a second collaboration back in November of 2013. While we sorted through a number of different ideas/concepts, I kept returning to the use of dance in this project. “Time vs. Money” is a dance song, and given my past work in making dance film, I felt that it could turn in to a successful project if I found the right dance collaborator.

Enter Viktor Plotnikov. I had met Viktor while working on another film project that featured his equally talented wife, Larissa. Over a cup of coffee, I asked Viktor if he would be interested in experimenting with me: choreographing and shooting a traditional ballet dance to The Bynars’ modern pop/dance/rock song. While he was skeptical at first, he decided to accept the challenge.

It took many months for Viktor, the dancers and my schedules to align in order to start production. Viktor spent a few days working with and prepping the dancers in Providence. He would send me video clips of each of the dance sequences as they came along. I appreciated that there were elements of traditional ballet, but also some funk-ed up, non-traditional sections too.

We travelled down to Providence on Wednesday, May 28th. I had only a loose concept of what I wanted to do at that point, and knew that we were going to have to improvise once we got the camera and dancers in the same room. Kirsten Evan and Alex Lantz (both members of Festival Ballet Providence) are fantastic dancers! Even for someone who still feels somewhat ignorant about the intricacies of dance, it was immediately clear from the videos that Viktor sent me, and their warm-up routines that they were talented, and would bring high level of energy and beauty to the choreography. They were also troopers throughout the production, performing the routines over and over again throughout the day.

Daniel Jacobs (camera operator) and Jean-Paul (JP) DiSciscio (lighting operator) were all- stars during the production. In order to keep the images dynamic, I insisted that the camera never be placed on a tripod, which meant that Daniel (who also graciously loaned his c300 for the shoot) was running all over the place to keep up with the dancers. For most of the piece, we also took a similar approach with the lights: instead of using lighting stands, JP would hold the lights and move with the dancers. This allowed not only the camera, but also the lights to interact with the dancers and choreography. Norman McLaren’s “Pas De Deux,” a masterpiece of dance film, heavily influenced the stark, backlit lighting approach.

Editing took me a couple of months. I would make a cut, then send it around to the crew and some trusted peers for notes. Qinshu Zuo took an evening to do the color correction on this piece, making the images really pop of the screen.

All of this work results in a minimalist piece: one camera, one studio, two dancers, two lights, black and white, light and shadow. The lighting renders the dancers almost entirely faceless. Instead, we are left to focus on the dance moves. And all of the elements (dance, camera, lighting, editing, music) combine to create something unique. At least that is my hope…

But, whether or not the piece is successful is for the audience to decide. I am just grateful that I once again got to collaborate with such talented group of artists!

– Shaun Clarke
Watch “Time vs. Money” music video.

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