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Published on Jul 6, 2011
My original spec music video for the incomparable Adele, whose sophomore album "21" has proven to be an unstoppable force of exquisite musicality and soul in a popular music landscape often times bereft of those vital qualities.
"21: Screen Tests" is my sincere attempt to capture the closest thing to emotional honesty, just as Adele and Andy Warhol (whose famous screen tests I've modeled this project after), have so effortlessly achieved. As a filmmaker who's accustomed to controlling everything to the tiniest detail and after the grandiose production of my last video, this persistent urge to strip subjects of all pretense finally clicked when I listened to her album for the first time and realized her voice was the perfect vehicle for this particular music video experiment. When she sings, something strong stirs...
Eleven hand-picked subjects were asked to memorize the lyrics to "Someone Like You" and nothing else. No costumes, makeup, choreography - I barely even spoke when filming them. Each was then surprised with a separate, preassigned song from "21" to listen and react to; the final result, then, is a comprehensive documentation of instinctive, human responses to Adele's entire album. (including the bonus track)
Warhol shot over 500 16mm black-and-white reels of celebrities, friends...whoever inspired him during the mid-'60s. Normal screen tests usually involve actors performing a scene to determine their suitability for a role - Warhol, on the other hand, simply shot his superstars with zero direction/expectation. They naturally reacted to the camera as themselves for an unbroken, several-minute shot, and the varying results are captivating. I attempted the same with my cast (with the exception of Adele's lyrical heartache as their only guide), whose wondrous, open spontaneity shocked both them and myself because the last thing you're asked to be on-camera...especially in Hollywood...is yourself.
I hope that less was indeed more in this homage to the bittersweet, powerful, indescribable spirit we call love. The individual, uncut screen tests will be released at a later time.
(This video is dedicated to two of my best friends: the future Harrison & Kalina Cavallero as of Saturday, July 9th, 2011. The world can only hope to be someone like you.)