Earlier this summer, pop recording artist Selena Gomez released her fourth single off her 2015 LP “Revival,” The Kill ‘Em With Kindness music video takes a dramatic, black-and-white look at a fashion model’s photo shoot. The model, naturally, is Gomez and the director was Emil Nava, who's also taken on projects for Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran. With fast cuts of Gomez modeling before a simple, white backdrop, shots of bullets and blood-dripped flowers and interpretive dancers, the video was shot on 16mm film at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. It was edited on an Avid by Cut+Run’s Sean Fazende, who has worked with Nava on several projects and says the two have developed a proven worklow.
“I’d seen the treatment before the shoot, but for the first rough cut [Nava] allowed me to be creative and put together a cut based on my instincts,” says Fazende. “That being said, working with Emil is an extremely collaborative effort, so the Selena video really didn’t start taking form until we both got in the edit bay together. Given its more surreal nature, it was a process of trying things out to see what was working best and what wasn’t working in the edit.
"Initially the video didn’t incorporate as many of the flash cuts that ended up in the final product, but I think we both realized early on that it was going to be a key theme in the video.”
According to Fazende, Nava wanted to give viewers the vibe that they were witnessing a private performance by Gomez. She’s setup for a photo-shoot, but as the camera pushes back, the audience can see that she’s alone in an empty room. “We don’t see the large entourage that you’d expect, creating a voyeuristic feel,” explains Fazende. “It’s a stark contrast from what you’d expect to see in a Selena Gomez [pop] video.”
With a series of quick cuts throughout the video, Fazende describes it as “frenetic,” explaining that the video has “a unique stylistic approach rooted in the film that it was shot on. There are so many interesting moments captured within the flash frames and rollouts, and it’s these frames that inspired the entire editing style of the video.
“The edit can be seen as a bit jarring, but I always find that the flashes have a strong impact on the viewer. It’s almost if you’re always trying to catch up and ask yourself internally, 'What did I just see?' Sometimes I use this to set up a new scene and sometimes it’s purely aesthetic. Either way, it keeps the viewer a little on edge and more importantly keeps the viewer interested in what’s coming next [or at least that’s the goal].”
Fazende, who cuts lots of music videos, having grown up in the MTV era, says he’s “always had a deep-seeded passion for the genre.” When he learned this project was shot on film, he says “there was a big smile on my face. I’m probably the last generation of editors to start in the industry when shooting film was the norm and I think that has had a large impact on my editing style as a whole and the editing style of this music video. I’m glad Emil chose to shoot film because I think any other medium would have made for a completely different end result. It’s the organic nature of film that shaped the entire feel.”
As for his final thoughts on the video’s outcome, “I’m extremely happy with how the video turned out. It’s fun to get the freedom to get ‘cutty’ and a little experimental, but rarely do you get to work on a project with an artist as big as Selena Gomez that offers that liberty. Emil is one of the hardest working directors I’ve ever seen and I’m glad he trusted me to follow through on his vision. I’ve also earned a newfound respect for Selena Gomez. It would be easy for an artist that big to look at this video and shelve it. It’s not a pop video, its not ‘on brand,’ there’s no choreographed dance, no neon lights, no chiseled abs, but she still put it out there and I’m happy to be a part of it.”