The Other Side with Music Videographer Serg Soza
A New Yorker through and through, independent filmmaker Serg Soza cites Nickelodeon re-runs and FM radio as childhood inspirations that sparked his early interest in music videos. After interning at a film production company during college, Serg began working as a freelance production assistant, which allowed him to gain the versatility and experience needed to branch out on his own. These days, Serg spends his days making original music videos for independent artists like Baby Teardrops and remixing familiar tracks by artists like Noneckned, to create unique video compositions.
We were able to pull Serg Soza away from his camera long enough to tell us what it’s like to be on The Other Side:
Green Light Go: What are some of the prerequisites to becoming a music video director and what initially sparked your interest in this field?
Serg Soza: The main prerequisite is love, because the more you love to make videos, the better they'll be.
Things that sparked my personal interest in making music videos include: My first Walkman, the margins of my notebooks, super-hero transformation sequences, Nick@Night, VHS tapes, FM radio, looking out the back seat of a car window, and school plays.
GLG: You recently shot a music video for the Baby Teardrops song “Smooth Sailing Ahead.” What were some of the things that inspired the making of this video?
SS: When I talked to Matthew Dunehoo about the shoot, I knew he wanted a non-live-action based music video. After listening to the songs on the band’s upcoming album, X is for Love, it was evident that Baby Teardrops is a great band that people will want to know more about. I also knew the band was on a tight schedule, so we needed to get to work immediately. The outdoor scene was shot on a bone-chilling day in New York City and the crew nearly froze during the outdoor scenes; they were such troopers.
When we got started with the shoot, I painted a scene in my head as I was listening to “Smooth Sailing Ahead.” I saw Matthew Dunehoo making his way along the sidewalk, coming across unexpected situations, but nothing takes him out of his own space, because he knows his guitar awaits and the band is ready to rock. Megan Thomas is the ultimate rock bassist, you really want to look at her and watch what she's playing. The same goes for Gerry White, who is a great rock drummer that formerly played with Murphy's Law and opened for Slayer. Considering this, I wanted to make sure that I featured the great musicianship of the band, while creating an interesting music video. Ultimately, it was such a pleasure to work with these guys and interpret one of the many amazing songs on their album.
GLG: When you set out to shoot a music video, how do you determine a location and how to set up the shoot?
SS: Each shoot is different, but I think the setting and atmosphere of the video are really important. For example, we began shooting the "Smooth Sailing Ahead" video at a great local chain restaurant called Jackson Hole, because I liked the intimate feel and layout of the Americana, 50’s style decor. The street scene was set in the Lower East Side and Alphabet City and the performance scene was at a neighborhood bar, Local 269, which couldn't have been better suited for the video.
GLG: What bands are you working with now? Who would you like to work with in the future?
SS: It'd be a dream come true to do a video with Robert Vaughn or Antoine Filion. People don't know enough about Antoine….the world needs more Antoine!
As far as my own work goes, I'm always writing, testing, and shooting different things. I enjoy working with all genres of music, but I often create video remixes to flex my editing chops if I'm really into a track.
GLG: What are some of your favorite videos?
SS: I have so many, I could fill this whole page up: The Smashing Pumpkins’ "Rocket", The Grateful Dead’s "Touch of Gray", Nirvana’s "Heart Shaped Box", all of Busta Rhymes’ videos, The Beatles’ "Strawberry Fields Forever", MIA’s "Paper Planes", anything by OK Go or Lady Gaga. Oh, and Tyler The Creator has some good videos out at the moment.
GLG: What is the best piece of advice you could give a band that wants to hire a director to shoot a music video?
SS: That one’s easy, get in touch with me!
GLG: What are the most rewarding and challenging things about directing music videos?
SS: The best things about directing include shooting, editing, and making a film.The worst would be the times when I’m not doing any of those things.
This week’s Other Side is brought to you by: Lauren Mercury Roberts