MACHINE . GUN . GAL
Director: Philip Andelman
Originally featured in: Promo News
After her starring role in the massive video for DJ Fresh’s Earthquake, here comes Dominique Young Unique’s debut video in her own right. And Philip Andelman’s video for Throw It Down fulfills the highest expectations.
The visuals personify Dominique from the clothes down to her moves, and with her lightning delivery, varied frame-speed manipulation – often within the same shot – is the key to this video’s success. That’s part of the promo’s strong vein of FX-fired humour. And then there’s something genuinely new: man-twerking.
We had a little chat with Phil to find out just how he created such great synchronisation between the artist and her first big solo promo…
word is cheap: Your work within music video is always distinctive and once again here. How did you become involved in the project?
PA: At the top of the year my agent sent me three tracks to write on. Two were insufferably ho-hum ballads and just as I was about to hit delete on the email, Dom’s track came on and within thirty seconds I was frantically writing back “I MUST DO THIS VIDEO NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!” It was such a breath of fresh air, of unbridled energy, it was incredible. Songs like this come about so rarely, I was so grateful to have the chance to simply pitch on this.
Dominique Young Unique has been bubbling within the industry for years but this is her first proper solo music video, did you know how you wanted to portray her?
I must confess I knew little of her before I got sent the track but without even a picture of her in my head, I saw her as this generation’s Lil’ Kim. Confident, tough-as-nails, yet at the same time really beautiful. I wanted to make sure all of that came across.
Street-style plays a key role within the styling, how did this come about?
Since this was her first solo video, the label really wanted to make sure the styling was right. For her, there were multiple fittings in the UK before she came over. Everyone else, from the dancers to the skaters was styled by the incredibly-talented Beth Birkett whose husband owns Union out in LA and generously donated time and clothes for the project!
Is the dancing choreographed or did you let loose the dancers?
Nope. There was no budget for a choreographer! I just got on the phone with a couple choreographers I work with and asked them to recommend some dancers for me. The twerkers had actually never twerked before but they were good-humored about it and had a blast. They came up with their choreography for the night-time scene on the spot. As for the other two dancers, they came out from Chicago just for the day. They’re part of a great dance scene out there called juking. When I saw videos of them my mind was blown.
Why did you cast a male dancer to be twerking and was that a difficult sell to the label?
I have to give credit where due: it was Dom who insisted that she be the only girl in the video, that everyone else be guys. The label was really supportive and I think it makes the video all the more fun. That said, it turns out it’s really hard to find male twerkers. What’s up with that?!
When you utilise post-production it is always to devastating effect, such as the unforgetable Duck Sauce – It’s You. Can you talk us through this promo’s concept?
I think I had the idea for this concept before the song finished playing the first time. It’s weird how thoroughly random the time it takes to come up with concepts can be. It has nothing to do with how good the song is, how much you like it, how long it is, it’s just purely random. But the second I heard how fast Dom could spit out verses, and how the choruses were like semi-automatics, I knew the video should play around with time.
There’s things in here that are incredibly subtle and others that are really obvious. The most subtle I think is that all the close-ups of her singing verses have her body going in slow-motion at 60fps while the playback and her lips are moving at 13fps. It’s only really obvious when the takes are longer which I’d originally hoped for, but the problem was that the song is so fast-paced that longer takes killed the momentum. So we ultimately had to sacrifice gags for the sake of respecting what the song required. All the wide shots in the first couple verses also feature Dom at 24fps while the backgrounds are alternately sped up and slowed down.
A bit more obvious is all the stuff we did where we sped up dancers’ legs while keeping their upper bodies slow. Again, everything was dictated by the song itself. I felt that the ends of the choruses had this very goofy little keyboard sound, and wanted the video to almost feel like a Tex Avery cartoon. We had a great team at Royal Post who did all the effects, but sadly we only had a little over a week to do everything. Had we had more time, I think it could have been fun to experiment and add more shots that pushed things a bit further but there was no margin for error on this one delivery-wise. Each shot we did was carefully boarded out in advance to minimize the amount of work done in post and I wish we’d had a bit more latitude in this respect though I’m still really happy with what we did pull off!
You also work in film and on commercials, is there a part of working in music videos you particularly enjoy?
Music videos are such a blast. I did another one the day after this one that was like a return to film school, racing around the desert with a camera, a mini-van, and a set of anamorphic lenses, getting kicked out of locations without permits and scrambling to find others. The day before the Dominique video I’d just completed a really straight-forward three day clothing commercial. It was such a breath of fresh air after the commercials to have two days of experimentation, smaller crews, anything-goes attitude, and giddy enthusiasm. There’s something nice about the orderliness about commercials, but there’s something much more thrilling about music videos. It’s cool to win a marathon race I guess, but let’s face it, we all know who holds the record for the 100m dash not the New York Marathon. Sprinting is always more fun.