I Keep It Hid

 In Music Video, Personal Project

For what seems like four months now I have been completely obsessed with this gem of a song. I had to make this music video it was making me go insane. I couldn’t think of anything else.

Alice Clark was a young single mother in Brooklyn 1968 when she decided to record her first album. The first album was not received well in the States compared to other uptown soul albums of its time. Four years later Bob Shard of Mainstream Records gave Alice a second shot and signed her to make an album with arranger Ernie Wilkins (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernie_Wilkins). The album released in 1972 as a self titled 10 track soul album. Many of the tracks were written by different artists I Keep It Hid itself was written by Jimmy Webb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Webb).  The album like the first wasn’t a big hit and Alice retired from music after the release.

The track is made up of a killer drum part that sets a hard but extremely groovy bottom layer of rhythm. The bass flows so easily over the beat outlining the chord changes and from time to time adds an extra harmony between the bridges and verses. The horns and wind instruments bring in a wall of energy that outlines many of the major points within the song and are the glue within the bridges. I haven’t been able to figure out if its a clarinet but there’s a wind instrument that shares the job with the guitar player of adding riffs between Alice’s singing. They play the role a jazz pianist would by using a counter melody that is  speaking directly with Alice while she sings. Alice herself brings a heartfelt performance that grows with each verse. Her vocals aren’t the best but her vocal control and unfiltered sound makes her voice extremely unique.

When I first thought of the story I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how to film it. All I knew was that I wanted a shot of someone walking in this large field by my house. Because of the situation we are in I had been skating around my neighborhood more than before. I had always seen this large field that divides the two major parts of my neighborhood. Which I think was left empty for infrastructure purposes like piping. I was skating by one afternoon and I thought “I should walk down the field” to access another road instead of skating around. As I was walking I thought of how many times I had seen someone walking the field by themselves. The image came to me and I created the rest of the project around that one image. With the help of Jessica Rodriguez(she’s the actress) and Melissa Uriarte( she helped me with focus and camera operation) I was able to put the video together. We spent about 16 hours filming. All of it is light by natural light and common house lights. I don’t like using lights but I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone reading this. The attic shot was probably the most difficult one to set up. I didn’t think about how hot an attic could get in Houston during spring. After two takes I was sweating so much Melissa had to take over on the camera and I pulled focus. The dinner scene had to be the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Getting to set that up with no lights and minimal props was extremely fun. We got a shot of the attic being opened that was absolutely amazing but I scrapped it while editing. We couldn’t set it up on the tripod with the right angle so we tried to hold the camera but it just came out too shaky. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get the shot.

I learned a lot from the experience of filming this music video. As I was editing I got the chance to see all my faults as a filmmaker. Which there’s a lot if you ask me. I have to keep on improving my eye and directing skills. Not having to worry about audio made the process feel very odd. I found myself not saying much during the takes which I think made Jessica be much more self aware of her actions. This helped me because I was able to pace her actions but I tried to mostly keep all action as natural as possible. I wanted to see every scene through and not let pacing hold the scene back or the actions of Jessica within the frame. This was somewhat of a problem when editing but I had so much footage I was able to establish the routine while still using tempo and pace as points of connection. I’ve been thinking of making a silent film and using the scenes to their complete length and just adjusting the way the routine unfolds.

I hope you enjoy the video. Thank you for reading.

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  • Matty Sullivan

    It looks fantastic! Good frames and compositions.

    I love the shots in the field, and the neighborhood. So lonely. And I love all the colors.

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