The Wrap Out: Taylor Hicks "What's Right Is Right"
Judy Levine, Jake Davis, Taylor Hicks on the set of his music video What"s Right is Right
I went into directing this project with the same expectations I always do. You're not going to sleep for the next month, you're going to push yourself like never before, and you're going to be a better director at the end of it. That was the bar and I think we raised it. With my videos I want to make timeless, beautiful, cinematic, iconic, imagery that tells a story people can connect with on an emotional level. I want to be able to look back with no regrets and I want the motion picture to hold up the same way my favorite classic films hold up decades later. I think for the most part we're living in a disposable culture right now and I've never really related to that ideology. The concept of quantity over quality has never appealed to me. Ultimately I'd like this video to stand the test of time.
Visually I wanted to create mystery with Taylor Hicks. With someone as famous and recognized as Taylor is, it was important to me to create an allure, an attraction, a mystique around him in this video. So my director of photography Jim Larer and I took the moody film noir approach and kept him in the shadows with low-key lighting, a very high contrast level, and shot night-for-night. We always kept the camera moving even if it was slight, the frame was always filled with an out of focus foreground, and the angles were always slightly askew. These are all classic noir techniques but I used them in a very modern way. Jim painted each frame of this video to create the perfect picture. I used up to four layers of video at different opacities and dissolve lengths to create that fantastical dreamy look. On the technical side, we shot 4k and 3K on the Red camera with an entirely digital workflow using a Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro, Color, Looks Builder, and delivered an uncompressed digital 2K master on a portable hard drive to the client.
The styling was all classic from the Burberry trench coat to the fitted tailoring of the Dolce & Gabbana suit. My stylist Christopher Kreiling worked on getting those few pieces just right from the slim fit of the jacket to the slight break of the pant. Taylor is actually quite a clothes horse and was really into it. We even incorporated a silk scarf reminiscent of a late sixties Miles Davis. We looked at a lot of my references from the great photography of Jim Marshall's book Jazz and Dennis Stock's work of James Dean. If you watch the video closely at 26 and 36 seconds in you can see that iconic James Dean photograph. It was actually already in the Edward Hopperesque diner when we scouted it. That was a sign that what we were doing was right.
We shot in Chicago in the middle of a blizzard at some really historical locations. The main jazz scene was shot at the California Clipper where Michael Mann just shot Public Enemies with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. It was very important to me to keep everything authentic and timeless. It will be really cool to see how Michael shot that location when his film comes out. He's an idol of mine and I watched his jazz scene from Collateral for inspiration.
Ultimately Taylor and I wanted to tell the story of everlasting love. From the older couple at the diner who have overcome the obstacle of the husband's physical disability to the younger couple at the diner embarking on their first romance. And finally Taylor's own potentiality of love at the end of the video. These all represent the different stages of true love.
Thanks again to everybody that made this video possible, you know who you are, and a very special thanks to the key players... Taylor Hicks, Kevin Spellman, Melinda Kelly, Kerri Kleiner, Ross Levine, Jim Larer, and Kipp Norman. And as always thanks to the fans who have really inspired me this go around. There's a behind the scenes making of the video coming out soon. I'll keep you posted... Below are a few fun links where you can find out even more about the video... And please let us know if you find anything interesting in your own internet journeys...