Video: Masks Off

Single-take music video I directed for Berlin-based electronic music producer, Yvois.

A conversation between myself and Ivy Rossiter, who produces electronic music as Yvois (and is the founder of Éclat Crew, for whom I’ve made a series of videos), which began four years earlier, culminated in the largest shoot I’ve helmed to date: ten performers in front of the camera, eight crew members behind the camera and in post-production, all working together to create a slow-motion, single take music video.

Yvois ‘Masks Off’ – official music video

The process involved co-ordinating many (literally) moving parts – so I’ll tell the story in parts.

Pre-Production

Yvois 'Masks Off' - storyboard
Yvois ‘Masks Off’ – storyboard stills by Ivy Rossiter (aka Yvois)

Crew – early in the process, I realised the scale of this video was perhaps beyond my usual one-man-crew to realise, so I recruited cinematographer Rita, who in turn brought longtime collaborator Rob to light the shoot, and a small team to assist them. Ivy developed the moodboard and storyboard, the basis for our conversations with Rita and Rob as they devised their lighting plan.

Lead Performer – Kendall’s performance would set the tone for the entire video, so she and I devoted rehearsals to character, movement, colour, costume, and developing our shared shorthand language that we’d use to make adjustments on set.

Extras – anticipating the many moving parts we’d have on set, my approach was to discuss with each performer, in the days and weeks before the actual shoot, their role and how the shoot would work (most of them had never been in a shoot before).

Production

Directing Traffic – I used the two-hour shooting window we’d given ourselves for us all to co-ordinate our cues and blocking together, take after take, like a stage play – performers, camera movements, props and practical effects – and the timing and pacing for all to fit together:

Performers – after walking through the set with each performer individually, I gave each one only one instruction – which meant less for all of us to think about, and made things easier to get right:

Camera – the math determined that for the 4 minute track, the slow-motion shot we needed would be 50 seconds long. Since Rita, our DP and camera operator, would be walking backwards while shooting, we began by doing what we’d done in pre-production: I walked with her, guiding both her path and pace, calling out time in 10 second intervals and setting markers. With Rob, our gaffer now doubling as focus-puller, and a video village set up for me (my very first – how luxurious!), I could devote my full attention to calling everyone’s action cues – a puzzle of timing and movement we’d refine together, with each take:

Video by Nadin Heinke

Post-Production

Colour Grade – My conversations with Maxime were similar to those at the earlier Pre- and Pro stages: moodboards, references, and experimentation, with input from both the music artist and the cinematographer, to arrive at a finished look that was both true to the original intention, and flattered what we’d ultimately produced:

Yvois ‘Masks Off’ – colour grade test samples

Trailer – and finally, I created some teaser loops for social media:

Yvois ‘Masks Off’

CREW
Ray Wassef – Director, Editor
Ivy Rossiter – Producer, Concept, Casting
Rita Couto – Director of Photography, Producer
Rob Cairns – Gaffer, Camera Assistant
Dico Baskoro, Ethan Ho, Vaughan Richards – Lighting and Production Assistants
Nadin Heinke – Production Assistant
Maxime Demartin – Colourist

CAST
Kendall Rybacki – Dancer
Paige St. Clair + Manny Behrendt – Couple
Yvois – DJ
Craig Schüftan – Exiting Hat
Lani Bagley – Exiting Jacket
Anne Poulos – Rescuer
Duckie L’orange – Rescuee
Sadie Smith – Bartender
David Briggs – Bottle Collector
Beres Jackson – Sweeper

MUSIC
Track: “Masks Off”
Released by Secret Songs
Mastered by Ryan Schwabe
Produced & Mixed by Yvois