Good Company (www.goodco.tv) in Los Angeles recently produced and posted a new video for Selena Gomez that draws inspiration from the works of French director Jean-Luc Godard. Back To You appears more as a short film than a music video. Directed by Scott Cudmore, who is represented in the United States by Good Company, the video has a retro, bubble-gum aesthetic that Gomez was instantly attracted to.
“The idea was to make it more of a short film,” Cudmore explains, “which has been my approach to music videos lately — going against the traditional formula of what a music video is. I am attracted to breaking the mold of music videos, cutting the song in and out, having dialogue. It doesn’t have to be a landscape of imagery. It can be entirely new.”
The concept loosely follows a French, new-wave film in which a young woman runs off with her ex, somewhere in the south of France. Cudmore says the team modeled the narrative loosely off of that concept, copying certain scenes that helped serve as a visual framework.
Good Company’s executive producer and co-founder Brian Welsh says that while music videos can be a challenge, due to strict budgets, the team agreed that this project needed to be shot on film — 16mm — in order to achieve the desired aesthetic. “Celluloid was the concept, and was critical for the aesthetic we were after,” Welsh explains. “It’s been a long time since we did a project solely on film.”
The shoot was initially scheduled for two days, but ultimately had to be limited to just one. All of the colored lighting effects were captured in-camera, much like they would have been by Godard.
According to Welsh, they avoided the urge to use many of the modern tools at their disposal to create the video’s look. “[We] took great care to keep it simple,” he states. “To use what they had available in the 1960s and not get overly complicated. Staying true to the references Scott set up in the beginning was critical for the outcome.”
Alex Hammer cut the project. While he is based out of Good Company’s New York office, he worked on Back To You from their Los Angeles location. “I enjoyed working on the more narrative side of it,” recalls Hammer. “I had to approach it with a steady hand and be very clever with movements and choices.”
Hammer cut the video using Adobe Premiere. “The act of cutting was very simple,” he explains. “There were no tricks to tell the story, which is a testament to the planning ahead of time.”
The 16mm film was scanned to 4K at FotoKem, and Hammer was then given proxy files for the edit. In addition to the final cut, he edited an alternative version that was much more complicated but not as successful in conveying the story. “Side by side,” he says, “this was the one that was right.”
Dave Hussey at Company 3 handled the color correction. The video has just a single visual effect — the car burning at the end. While the car is real, the fire was added as a CG visual effect. The group joked that setting a vintage Alfa Romeo ablaze at the dry ranch outside of LA they used for the shoot just wouldn’t have been practical.
All total, the production and post of Back To You spanned eight or nine days from shoot to final delivery.