Music Video: Eminem — <I>River</I>
Issue: March 1, 2018

Music Video: Eminem — River

Editor Sean Fazende of Cut+Run’s ( LA office recently completed work on a new music video for Eminem that features a guest collaboration with Ed Sheeran. The River video runs nearly seven minutes and incorporates both performance footage and material from what appears to be a documentary. The drama shows the artist with his current girlfriend, who recently left her husband. An interview with her ex is also included. The camera captures the explosive interaction between Eminem and the woman as she reveals to him her pregnancy results.

Fazende says he has worked with director Emil Nava in the past and jumped at the chance to take on this project when he heard about it in early January. Production spent approximately a day and a half capturing Ed Sheeran’s performance of the song’s chorus. Another two days were spent in LA shooting the sequences with Eminem, including his vocal performances and the documentary-style material.

The project made use of multiple formats, including 35mm, 16mm, MiniDV footage and imagery captured with iPhone and Phantom cameras. Fazende says the material came to him piecemeal, so he began his edit knowing that more material would be arriving in the near future. Using an Avid Media Composer, he spent approximately three days working on the initial edit, and a total of 10 days making slight tweaks as the piece went through its stages of approval.

Initially, the documentary was going to open up the video, but after some creative brainstorming, it was decided that the footage would be inserted at logical breaks in the song, as to extend the story without taking the viewer entirely out of the music video experience. 

“Basically, it was going to be a three-minute music video,” Fazende recalls, “but they captured so much good stuff and wanted to expand it.”

The goal in the treatment, he says, was to make it appear as real as possible, even though the documentary portion was contrived. 

“It’s obviously a faux documentary, but you want it to feel as real as we could make it,” says Fazende. “We didn’t want it to feel too disjointed, with performance and then throwaways at a story. We wanted it to be as integrated as it can be. 

It started as a long-form docu piece and a music video, and luckily Eminem was really on board with mending the two together to make this longer piece, which I think turned out better.”

Editorially, Fazende says they needed song breaks to help move the story along. “We built this story arc through the verses,” he explains. “There’s a relationship, the girl and husband break up, girl and Eminem date, the pregnancy and fight scene.”

The team really liked the performance of Eminem outside against the projection wall. Knowing that this material was going to be used in the third verse, the pregnancy sequence had to appear before it. 

Shooting film for some of the sequences created interesting flashes and light leaks that Fazende used for transitions. The eerie light leaks, which Fazenda attributes to the film camera’s starts and stops, also appear in the Ed Sheeran sequences. MiniDV was used for the interview sequences, and the camera zooms were all done manually, in-camera. The interlaced effect is a product of the dated MiniDV format. The Phantom was used for the slow-motion sequences where debris is flying about.

Fazende cut the project in his Media Composer at DNx36 resolution, ultimately delivering the piece as an HD 1920x1080 ProRes file.