Brooklyn based duo The Last Royals‘ latest video for “Crystal Vases” is a tongue-in-cheek look at the hipster capital’s transcendence into the mainstream. The music video follows a gang of senior ladies as they cause havoc in Bushwick aka where all the cool parties happen inGirls, duh. What we see however is how the women truly see themselves, as young at heart. With a punchy beat and catchy melody, “Crystal Vases,” is already a perfect soundtrack for the summer months ahead, and the music video is a fitting accompaniment. What is the most interesting and unique part about “Crystal Vases,” is the unexpected visuals that flash across the screen. Created by the director and Alex Amoling, the drawings which were composited frame by frame for the animations, ultimately take the video to another level despite an already strong and engaging storyline. The raw essence and DIY aesthetic of Brooklyn is really put on display in the music video with fun a the forefront of both the band and filmmakers minds.
Portable: What are your backgrounds in film?
Michael Lawrence : I went to film school, but dropped out. I first had an interest in telling stories when I was young, observing the world around me.
Dave Kruta : I’m a self-taught college dropout who just loves making pretty pictures and telling good stories. I don’t consider myself as having a background in film, but I love movies, art and working and being creative with good people.
P: What fascinates you about the marriage between film and music?
Michael Lawrence : Film is ultimately the synchronization of image and sound. Music has always been integral to it. Music videos are a chance to explore this, to bring the audience into the world of the artist and put your own little personal spin on it. It’s also a great playground for ideas.
Dave Kruta : It’s all about making someone feel something. When you make an image, you hope to tell a certain story and evoke certain emotions, and that can be enhanced or changed with music. Imagine if Jaws had a different soundtrack – you would feel something completely different. The interesting thing about music videos is starting with the music. It’s almost like working backwards than the traditional filmmaking process, and you can use visuals to enhance or change the emotions of the music.
P: How important do you think music videos are in 2013? Do you think they are necessary?
Dave Kruta : I think the traditional idea of music videos as part of a musician’s image and marketing is antiquated, but I do think that they are a way for musicians to show their fans who they are (e.g. by making a fun, goofy video which shows that they might not take themselves too seriously), and are a good way for various artists to collaborate – from directors and DPs to guest stars and animators. To me, they are a creative playground.
Michael Lawrence : I really think that music videos are making a resurgence. They are finding ways to monetize YouTube and brands are becoming more interested in helping to sponsor these “art projects” as a way to reach an audience. The new technology makes it a more democratic medium; with that competition comes better work.
P: How did the collaboration come about?
Dave Kruta : Mike and I have known each other for years and had talked about working together for a long time. Mike had just returned from Indonesia and we got back in touch, and he asked if I would shoot anything like this. Having worked on tons of features and commercials, a music video seemed like a fun change of pace, and the concept was exciting and hilarious. Next thing I knew, we were running around Bushwick chasing a bunch of grannies fucking shit up.
Michael Lawrence : Worded all too perfectly. I love that last line. Still can’t believe we got them to do that.
P: What are you inspired by generally and for this music video in particular?
Michael Lawrence : While I am inspired by many many things around me, lately I feel like the complete over-stimulation is not so good for creativity. I’m in search of silence and empty roads, the quiet back alleys and the little stories that too often go untold. ”Crystal Vases” was shot almost a year ago… so it reflects a different state of mind for me. It is almost like a time capsule…. most work is. At the time I was personally dealing with moving back to the US after living in Asia for years. It all felt very surreal, disjointed, a bit grotesque and still altogether beautiful. That and old Rolling Stones posters, great album art of the 70′s.
Dave Kruta : In general, I am inspired by a confidence in individuality. Fincher melds darkness with technical perfection, Storaro is bold with color, and Michael Lawrence is comfortable and curious in the weird and surreal. Good energy is good energy. For this video, I wanted to feel a raw Brooklyn. We didn’t do any lighting until we got into the party space, and we shot in real locations with real people just having a good time. I think everyone was able to have a lot of fun with this piece and it feels like I feel when I am at home in Brooklyn.
P: Who or what are your influences?
Dave Kruta : I’ve had the privilege of meeting or speaking with a variety of major DPs, and have always found them to be supportive and encouraging – people like my good friend Peter Simonite, the legendary Russell Carpenter or the talented and ever-helpful David Mullen. There’s an entire community of people that want to celebrate good work and good people, and they are my influences.
Michael Lawrence: I’m constantly blown away by the work that so many of my friends and peers are producing. Ryan Hope, Ollie Goodrum, Tobias Stretch, Tyler T Williams, Alex Turvey are all on my recently watched list. My first love was photography and I am in love with Alec Soth’s exploration of loneliness and comfort. Lately it is the quiet things that seem most interesting.
P: What was the story behind the music video?
Michael Lawrence : Um, psychedelics. And grandmothers. Brooklyn absurdity.
P: What equipment and techniques did you use?
Dave Kruta: We shot on the Red Epic and Lomo Super Speed lenses from the Soviet Union. My close friend Michael Fuchs operated Steadicam for us, and I did a bit of handheld on the street as well. We shot 120fps with a short shutter to give us that crisp staccato feel, which I felt brought us into the world we were photographing. For the party scene, gaffer Anthony Struber had set up a small tungsten package on dimmers to underscore the beat of the song and bring the environment to life.
Michael Lawrence : Alex Amoling and I did lots of drawings and those ended up being composited frame by frame for the animations. On set I provided lots of motivation for the talent by buying them 40′s and bringing sparklers and various fire accessories in an attempt to promote delinquency.
P: What is the most difficult thing about making a music video?
Dave Kruta: Music video budgets have shrunk significantly in the last few years, which clashes horribly with the creative possibilities. It’s not two people in a coffee shop chatting about nothing – the ideas are often wild and crazy and exciting and it can be disappointing when a producer tells you that you can’t afford that slow-motion camera or a chimpanzee and wrangler.
Michael Lawrence: So many hours of thought and sweat go into these things. It is exhausting (and cathartic). At this point I am much more selective about the work I do. It’s a very personal thing to share your music and share your pictures with that music.
P: What are you both currently working on?
Dave Kruta: Mike and I just got back from shooting a commercial in Indonesia for SURFAID, where we documented their clean water, anti-malaria and health education efforts. Although thoroughly exhausting, it was an amazing trip to a part of the world most people never get to see. We brought a stripped-down Epic package to allow us to shoot in a cinematic fashion, and I think it will bring a new and different perspective to aid efforts in the third world. I am currently shooting a feature film called Sidewalk Traffic right here in New York, directed by Anthony Fisher and starring Erin Darke, Kurt Loder, Johhny Hopkins, Heather Matarazzo and the hilarious Dave Hill. It’s an indie film with heart that I think any struggling artist can relate to, and I am extremely excited to see it get cut together and what comes out. It feels like a worldwide conspiracy for Declan, a 30 Year-old filmmaker, husband and new father, who cannot seem to get ahead. When he is squeezed out of a promotion, Declan is wracked by internal crises, including career envy of his best friend, bitterness over bad breaks and the still-lingering fallout from the suicide of his former creative partner. In a state of utter self-pity, Declan surrenders to the role of stay-at-home dad, and is forced to face his demons while pushing strollers, changing diapers and heating up bottles all the while working to resurrect his dreams.
Michael Lawrence : I am writing this up from a random hotel in Miami, where I am shooting a commercial for Mizuno. It’s going to be a comedy.
Read the full interview by Jenna Hawkins at Portable.tv