I’m currently working on a music video.
Musically, yes–it’s for a metal song after all. But that’s not what I mean. The content–some of it shot by me, some provided to me for use in this video–has an emotional gravity to it that is making it tough to work on.
I can see where this video might be problematic for some of the people in my world when it releases in a few months. There are some serious socio-political overtones in it and it pretty bluntly addresses a problem in American society that lots of people talk about but few seem to know what to do about. I don’t mean problematic in the sense of divisiveness that seems to plague most socio-political issues these days, but in the sense that certain members of the specific community the video addresses may find it difficult to watch. In other words, it may be triggering for them.
The song’s lyrics are fairly vague and poetic in their message and content, left open to the interpretation of the listener while at the same time calling up specific imagery, but the visual content of the video puts a definite and specific point of view on it about a difficult subject.
Maybe it’s because I’m friends with the person in the video and that I know that what I’m seeing isn’t acting, but his reality. So on a personal level, it hits home in the only way that it can for me. I’m sure there are other things at play with the way it’s hitting me, but I don’t think I need to overanalyze it. I need to just accept that this thing I’m doing is difficult and that’s okay.
For me, great art comes with risk. And sacrifice. And sometimes fear. It can be lonely—and it often is. And as the final cut of this video starts to take shape, I’m reminded of that in a way that I’d forgotten. (I’m not so brash as to say that what I’m doing is “great art”–I’m just musing on what I think makes great art.)
While I’m taking some risk in how this video will be received, how it will affect the reception of the song, who this video will affect, and how it will affect them, I’m not really sacrificing much.
The sacrifice here isn’t being made by me—it’s been made and is being made by the guy in the video and others like him. And while I’ve had my lonely moments doing the editing, it’s his loneliness that’s really the subject here. And I’m thankful that he allowed me into his world and his head to try and capture even a breath of what he and others like him deal with every day.
My only fear with this is that I don’t do justice to my friend and the people he is representing. His initial response to the rough cut though tells me I’m doing right by him. And for now, that’s all that matters.
The rough cut was good. I’d have been happy releasing it as-is. But the deeper I get into the final cut, the closer I get to finishing it, the harder it becomes to watch. It’s becoming more and more difficult for me to finish. And I suspect that it will be difficult for some people to watch.
Which is how I know it’s better than good.