Director: Michael Lawrence
Director of Photography: David Kruta & Michael Lawrence
Levek’s new album is a haunting mix of 70s style psychadelic rock mixed with modern electro-pop, and is a masterpiece. Director Michael Lawrence and I were lucky enough to be able to shoot the video to their single “Black Mold Grow”, an eerie, calm and trippy song that elicits a primal reaction when listened to.
Although the budget was tight, we decided to keep the concept reasonable and the logistics simple. We piled into a sedan with actress Kelly Thomas and headed up to Mike’s hometown of East Aurora, NY - right on the outskirts of Buffalo. There we met with Toronto-based operator and Scarlet owner Kiel Milligan, and proceeded to location scout and shoot.
This shoot, more so than any other I’ve had the pleasure of doing with Mike, relied very much on a fluid, organic process that combined a mix of faith, luck and spontaneous inspiration to be successful. Although frustrating at times, this we remained optimistic, and with such a small crew, we were able to be nimble and react quickly to unforeseen changes in weather, locations and time of day. A testament to this method is that we managed to capture two separate locations in the same golden hour timespan - an impossibility on a larger shoot.
We shot over the course of two days and the morning following, and were extremely lucky with weather. The first morning we were soaked by thunderstorms, but managed to capture some stunningly bleak imagery that helped separate the passage of time throughout the video. That same day, as the storms passed, the sun came out and presented us with a magnificent sunset, which we rushed to capture in as many ways possible.
As the shoot unfolded, we started realizing that the look that was coming together was a mix of grainy 70s-era film and somewhat modern British realism, so we pushed for that feeling more. We didn’t shy away from lighting night scenes with only a flashlight bounced off of a shirt or car headlights, and we would roll seeing not much but edges and black on the screen. Between some clever post-work and editing, I think the look came together brilliantly for this piece.
Although this shoot was shot overwhelmingly with available light, there were a few small tricks we used. My kit consisted of a haze generator, two 12x12 solids and my iPad, with which I modified or lit a couple scenes. When our heroine wakes up in the 50s-era Galaxie convertible, the silhouette is enhanced by the solids blocking light from behind the camera, and the beams of sun are made visible by the haze hanging in the air. When she is running from the pickup truck, the driver is illuminated by a creepy green glow, courtesy of the iPad.
We shot on the Red Scarlet, Canon 7D and GoPro Hero2, with a wide complement of lenses such as the Canon 70-200, Tokina 11-16, Sigma 105mm Macro and a small selection of Nikkors belonging to the director. We used the Scarlet as our main camera, with 7D providing close ups and long-lens action. GoPro was used to quickly grab underwater shots.
The town of Aurora served as a beautiful, yet haunting, backdrop to Black Mold Grow, and provided us with many opportunities. We were extremely lucky to meet many helpful inhabitants who willingly gave us their time, properties and help, allowing us to shoot in many beautiful and strange locations. We even had “catering” provided by the director’s parents, who welcomed us into their home and treated us all like long-lost children. All in all, being at the mercy of nature was an inspiring challenge, and embracing the unknown was a refreshing break.