Iceland is an incredibly photogenic place. In April, a few friends and I rented a motorhome to drive the infamous ring road. What we experienced was beyond any of our expectations despite years of lusting over the flood of incredible Instagram posts flowing out of the country.
Upon landing in the country I realized I had forgot to pack a variable ND filter which all but dashed my hopes of making a more cinematic clip, or record any useable video at all. After a conversion mix up at a local camera store (and begrudgingly declining to buy the only ND filter at $650CAD), I stuck mainly to snapping photos. The occasional overcast day allowed me to shoot some clips (at F22, gross). You could say it was a bit of a filmmaking disaster, but with the money I didn’t spend on an ND filter I plan to return to the island.
The release of the music video I shot for Safe to Say comes almost 2 years after I set out on my own to become a full time filmmaker. It feels amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come from the early music videos I’ve shot to now. When I basically had no experience, just rolled with the punches and hoped to get an image somewhere near where I wanted.
In the production of this video we had a very specific idea of how we wanted the image to look. Brad Garcia (co-director and singer of Safe to Say) and I had many references to Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’ floating through our imagination and wanted to recreate that eerie feeling created by the dreamy-vintage image when juxtaposed with less fond memories. This style of image is something I’ve been pitching for a while but never had a chance to do. With Cooke lenses (my dream) out of the question for the budget, we had to figure out something else.
We ended up shooting 85% of the video on a Zeiss Distagon 35mm F1.4 with a Schneider Classic Soft 1/4 filter. The remaining shots were captured on vintage uncoated Zeiss lenses allowing the sun to blow out the image and give us that creamy/warm feeling in close-ups. The Schneider filter bloomed the highlights and softened the modern Zeiss lens just enough to match it. In the end I feel like the images match what we had in mind from the beginning which is an incredible feeling.