Davis Silis - 15th July 2013

Doesn't it seem like all the cool music video kids are from Canada these days? Take this Jessy Lanza video from Ontarian director Lee Skinner for example. The premise is simple enough; beautifully unceremonious shots of Hamilton, Ontario with a middle-aged local who dances through the streets while Jessy occupies a graffitied band shell. The result? Far from simple.

The video for Jessy's Kathy Lee takes on some sort of urban-industrial spirit of the Great Up North, creating a portrayal as utterly mesmerising and authentic as it is unlikely. It defies you to look away as this man busts his Lynch-ian-ish voodoo groove through the city and cropped glimpses of Jessy casually echo across an empty park. 

The dancing man feels so authentic, as though he's been practicing for this video his whole life, because he essentially has. Jed, The Dancing Guy, as it turns out, is an institution among Hamiltonians, regularly dancing through the streets while listening to his MP3 player.

So it seems this particular video joins an emerging cadre of the music video world. Videos that confidently blend documentary and fiction. The real and the imagined. A shaped, sculpted vision of the real world around us. A totally fresh new perspective on the everyday and mundane to create something that is anything but.

Clearly, all the cool kids are in Canada.

Lee Skinner:

"The concept itself was largely Jessy's idea, in fact. She and co-producer Jeremy Greenspan approached me with a rough idea, which evolved over preproduction, but always centred around Jed Lifeson, also known as The Dancing Guy. Just like virtually everyone else in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, I was familiar with Jed, who is notorious for constantly dancing to his MP3 player everywhere he goes. The way you see him in the video is very much the way he is every day, and I deliberately made his shots as candid-looking as possible in order to reflect that.

"Jess and Jer wanted to show off the grittier aspects of our city, with Jed doing his thing and Jessy performing at a heavily-vandalized local band shell. After listening to the song, I persuaded them to open it up to a little more variety in the locations and aesthetics.

"I decided it would be best to keep the colours muted throughout most of the song, and have them gradually become more saturated towards the climax. I also added a few scenes to establish a very light narrative, because I like that kind of thing.

"These included Jessy longingly wandering through a baseball park, Jed ditching his headphones and disappearing into the distance only to reappear when the sub-bass hits, a rather Malick-ian frolic through a field, and Jessy exploring a warehouse to find the perfect antique organ to finish off the song. It's these moments that I believe help the video become more than just a montage."


DirectorLee Skinner
ProducerLee Skinner
Director of PhotographySean Marjoram
Camera operatorStuart Needham
1st ACMichael Clark
Lead actorJed "The Dancing Guy" Lifeson

Davis Silis - 15th July 2013

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