Friday, 15 October 2010

Music Video Auteurs

The Auteur theory has influenced film criticism since the 1950's, Auteur is the french word for "Author"...

The Auteur theory is the way in which a Director's film reflects the Director's personal creative vision - As if he or she were the primary "Auteur".
The Author's creative voice is distinct enough to be visible through studio interference, which create films in an industrial process.
Auteur theory focuses on individual stylistic features, how texts are determined by artist's creativity and how texts emerge as part of an artist's body of work.

An example of a director with a visible auteurist style is Spike Jonze...

Film director, Spike Jonze, has created full length movies, as well as music videos and television commercials.
His interesting style consists of a lot of hand-held camera effects and a documentary feel. As an auteur he also adds alot of twists to the tone of the video, such as a dark, uneasy tone suddenly flipping to a more optimistic, and sometimes even comical tone.
As a genre his work is usually fairly entropic, and he also uses alot of CGI within his work.

He is responsible for film productions such as "JACKASS" and "Where The Wild Things Are".
At 32 he directed the highly successful music video for "Weapon Of Choice " by Fatboy Slim; In this particular piece of work he only used 32 camera cuts all together - as he prefers to use long take editing.

Here are 6 videos by Jonze that I think represent his auteurist style very successfully...

The video above has initially a negative genre, almost all of the video is set in poor lighting (night time) and the rain is constantly falling giving the video a miserable tone.
Non-diagetic, dreary music plays throughout the video which has a negative rhythm and sound, amplifying the sadness of whats happening on screen.
The whole video appears dark and damp and the audience is made to feel sympathy for the lamp that has been put in the cold all alone.
Then, typically of Jonze, he contrasts the initial tone of the video and catches the audience
off-guard. He brings a character into frame with a humorous accent.
The character brings the audience back to reality in telling them that the new lamp is much better and the one being thrown away has no feelings!
This light hearted twist gives the video a comical feel and removes the negativity established at the beginning of the video.

Just like the previously mentioned video, this video uses similar techniques which build up Jonze's auteur style. Interestingly this video also uses contrasts in tone and genre, giving the video a twist in style and re-catching the audiences attention.
This video begins negatively, using similar mise en scene to the IKEA advert above...
The video opens with a dark, negative establishing shot of one of the locations - (the main character's home).
The lighting is limited and once again non-diagetic, slow, negative music plays while the action takes place.
The genre changes from a slow-paced, dark setting into a fast-paced action drama.
The wide camera shots show society breaking down within the streets as car's crash, explosions occur and people run wild.
The non-diagetic music picks up in tempo and mixes with the diagetic sounds of the mayhem. The combination of noises create the intended out of control atmosphere. Suspense is built up as the main character avoids the chaos around him.
As you'd expect from Jonze, the tone unexpectedly changes once again. - a more optimistic scene blends into place and concludes the video, with an underlying sense of confusion and irony.
The main character cheerfully passes another jogger, says hello and carries on running without a care in the world.
The video is summed up by a giraffe walking past out of nowhere.
Obviously this video is entropic, like alot of Spike Jonze's work, and I believe it works very well.
It puts the advertised brand across with a humorous and memorable kick.

Unlike the previous two videos, this video has a positive tone almost all the way through.
Whereas in the other videos, the last shot is the only optimistic moment.
This video doesn't begin with a dark opening, it begins with an establishing shot of a police station, and some diagetic voices are heard.
The setting then changes to a fast-paced conversation between two characters, this video has alot more cuts adding to the dramatic genre.
The location changes a few more times, and interesting editing techniques are used such as titles shooting across screen and spilt screen etc.
Something stereotypical of music video is "the male gaze" where women are shown as sexually available, although this is a television advertisement, it still incorporates the use of women as sex objects.
The fun, and amusing feel to the video throughout makes it enjoyable to watch, and the audience find themselves immersed within the story and fully interested. The product being advertised is introduced right at the end, which is done alot in television advertisements.
A male character looks at the main character from a distance, who is with a good looking woman. This gives the impression that the brand and the video is aimed generally at straight men.

Out of the six videos by Jonze I've studied, this particular one is probably the most relevant to my research, as it is actually a music video.
The extraordinary use of editing and production of this video gives excellent visual effects.

Jonze got the rap group to literally lip sync and perform backwards.
Everything else was recorded as usual, such as pedestrians walking past etc.
Then when the video came to be edited it was reversed so that the music was the normal way round and the lyrics were in sync with the rappers mouths, yet the body movements and physics within the video were simply unrealistic.

Puddles would splash inwards back to place instead of up the rapper's legs, items would fly into their hands instead of being thrown away into the distance, and smashed glass would join back together all in rhythm with the song.

Another interesting aspect of this video, is that is uses very long shots throughout. The video only has 5 cuts within it making it very smooth and continuous.

This video emphasises Spike Jonze's entropic style and the technique works very effectively.

This video follows Jonze's entropic auteur, yet this video is alot more dramatic.
The use of fast paced editing emphasises the story's drama.
The interesting thing about this video is that it uses a cut once every one to two seconds, this keeps the audience interested the whole way through.
The costumes and setting of the shopping centre are realistically portrayed.
The combination of diagetic sound effects and the slightly humorous non-diagetic soundtrack make an effective partner to the mayhem happening on screen.

Like alot of Jonze's work, this video begins quite relaxed, and then the tone suddenly changes catching the audience's attention.
This is an advertisement for "GAP" and like most advertisements, not just by Jonze, this one incorporates the advertised product at the conclusion of the video.

Finally, I believe this video concludes my idea that in alot of Spike Jonze's work, he uses two or more contrasting tones which switch unexpectedly.

This Adidas trainer advert begins with a calm nighttime scene, the lighting is very low and alot of shadow's are included to emphasise the darkness.
The setting is a simplistic bedroom, and the single main character is dressed in pyjamas.
The character moves to another setting where the whole atmosphere completely changes, and the change in the soundtrack makes the audience jump.
The setting of the video switches from what was initially calm into something dramatic and exciting, amplified by the fast paced editing and increased volume and tempo of the music.

This video begins calm and suddenly changes into a dramatic atmosphere which is typical of Jonze, but interestingly, this video also changes tone again towards the end and returns to the initial tone of the video - calm, dark and simplistic.

In conclusion, I would say there is such thing as a an auteur theory. Through the six videos just shown, a strong correlation of creative style is portrayed and the same editing techniques and ideas are included.
Spike Jonze has an obvious and successful auteurist style.