Monday, April 03, 2006

Director Profile: Elliot Jokelson

One of the greatest and most-promising directors in the music video industry right now is Elliot Jokelson, best known for his work with TV On The Radio on "Staring At The Sun" and "Dreams". He also directed Pinback's wonderful video for "Fortress" last year, which garnered the #8 spot on my Top 65 Videos of 2005 list. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find recycled techniques or even any similarities between the three videos, as they all function in completely different cinematic mediums, a testament to the innovation and originality of Jokelson. "Staring At The Sun" is a synthesized post-production masterpiece, "Fortress", on which Jokelson teamed up with animation team Loyalkaspar, is one of the best animated videos of recent years, while "Dreams", his third and most recent clip, is a narrative-driven video with great special effects, his first to use a professional actor.

"Staring At The Sun", which Jokelson directed in 2004 for TVotR, relies heavily on video synthesizers and employs the use of a wobbulator, but aside from being a funny word I don't really know what that last term means. However, the most incredible effect achieved in the video is the - for lack of a better term - "green thread" effect, in which the band member's bodies are dematerialized and reduced to green threads, which are then manipulated to create a very cool effect. Easily one of my top five favorite videos of 2004.

.MOV: "Staring At The Sun" - TV On The Radio [highly recommended]


I've spent hours debating in my mind (not really) over which video, Jonas Odell's "Smile" or Elliot Jokelson's "Fortress", featured the best animation of 2005, and I still can't decide, but I do know that Jokelson created an absolutely stunning clip for Pinback's finest single, my favorite of his work yet. I love the beautiful opening scenes with the prince and princess frolicking about in the meadows, but the whole thing's wonderful really. I also like the whole crazy eyes thing with the soldiers, but the highlight has to be the choreography scene with the dancing knights. Beautiful animation.

.MOV:"Fortress" - Pinback [highly highly recommended]

In this video, a Easter Island-esque (only a lot meaner/scarier looking) head descends from the clouds on a city to more or less engage in a staring contest with a homeless man standing on top of a skyscraper (yeah, don't ask). Another way one could summarize this video is with a simple "What the fuck?", as that's pretty much what's going through the viewer's head the entire time. However, it's a beautifully done clip, and check out the incredible reflection rendering at about the halfway point, remarkable considering this entire video was filmed on only a $31,000 budget. Overall the video just features wonderful cinematography and photography direction, and after a couple views the meaning becomes clear and proves it's rich in that department. Reader Neville provides an astute (and accurate - it was affirmed by Elliot himself) analysis:

The whole thing sums up to be a representation of a momentary elevation of state of mind whereby the homeless guy can look at himself, and underneath the horror (screaming head) is a compassionate understanding of all the mistakes and flaws (not just his own, the whole city's) that brought him to the point of homelessness...

.MOV: "Dreams" - TV On The Radio [highly recommended]

Spot on, then. You can download all three of these videos as good quality .mov files, courtesy of direct links from Elliot's site, or you can grab them in iPod format below. Whatever you do, make sure you watch these.

Videos: [all iPod Compatible]
"Staring At The Sun" - TV On The Radio [highly recommended]
"Fortress" - Pinback [highly highly recommended]
"Dreams" - TV On The Radio [highly recommended]