Lam Tien Yue
of Skinny Love
This evaluation will be a critical
analysis of the music video, Skinny Love as
produced by me and Max Soo for the Moving Camera module. For the first section
I will be explaining our production process and our experience in creating and
developing this music video. Part two of this evaluation will be an analysis of
our audience, content and style of the music video overall. Finally, I will
discuss my understanding of the roles I played throughout this production, and
thus concluding this evaluation of Skinny
Love with my own reflections and thoughts from this project, and my
analysis of the video from my perspective.
When we were first given the brief,
Max and I instantly knew we wanted to do a music video as it would be an
interesting video to make. “Music video
is one of the most important emergent forms of contemporary popular culture. It
has a profound impact both on music, fashion and youth culture, and on the
codes and forms that operate across television, film and advertising.” (Frith, 2005) However, we were having
trouble choosing a song and the direction we wanted to go, as there is such a
wide variety of choices. As we were listening to music on Spotify, Skinny Love by Birdy came on and we had
a sudden spark of inspiration to use that song for our music video. We
brainstormed a few ideas and concepts but ultimately we wanted to tell the
story of lost love as told by the song.
We settled on a story about an abusive
relationship, which included a lot of physical fights and a lot of symbolism in
our narrative. When we pitched our idea to our fellow friends, they did not
understand what we were trying to portray, only then we realized we might have
taken our concept a bit too far. We finally settled on telling the story of a
girl who is struggling in a broken relationship as her boyfriend changes to
become someone she despises.
Our production stage went relatively
smoothly, though we did have some hiccups on the way. All our pre-production
went well, and we had already found our two talents, Hannah and Connor to be
our main leads, but Connor pulled out right before production started. Hence, we
were stuck without a lead actor and had to choice but to push back our
schedule. Thankfully, Hannah helped us find a friend, Kurtis who was willing to
act for us and we could proceed with the shoot. We also faced some
miscommunication with one of our locations as the boss was not informed about
our shoot. However, our biggest struggle would be scheduling, as both of our
talents were only available for a very limited time. As a result, what could
have been a short three day shoot had to be done in five days over the span of
One highlight was working with our
talents as they were very willing to follow direction, and also put a lot of
effort to their character. As Penn (1976) said: “after all, a character on a page is really only dozen lines of
dialogue. Once you assign those to a whole person, he or she becomes that
person.” Hannah, especially impressed us as she went the extra mile to
become the character, even learning the song on piano even though she only had
to mime it. Also, this video was my first time working with Max. We had a good
working dynamic with each other and took full responsibility for the roles we
delegated. We were able to think of alternative ways to solve our problems. For
instance, we struggled in booking equipment as everything had already been
used. We had to think of alternatives- we were not able to use a Steadicam
hence we stuck with tracks and dollies, and we were not given a tripod for our
slider so we used a table for our base. Max has guided me through the
production process and I have learnt quite a bit just by working with him.
As Urban Dictionary points out, the
term Skinny Love can be loosely
defined as a relationship that lacks love, or as we derived- broken. We wanted
to highlight how life is not just happy endings, and how many people choose to
stay in their perpetual cycles of a broken relationship, thinking it can be
saved. People would rather settle for inadequate relationships than be single
and open to something — or someone — that could make them happy. (Martin,
2014) We also wanted to touch on the reasons why a relationship may
deteriorate, such as alcohol and physical abuse, as shown through Kurtis’
character. We believe that it may deliver an emotional impact to our target
audience of young adults (in their 20s- 30s) as it is a very real and relevant subject
that happens in their life.
The primary inspiration for Skinny Love was from the original video
itself (Birdy – Skinny Love Official Music Video, 2011). By keeping the moody
cold tones that were present in the music video we were able to portray a sad
emotion, thus applying it in our grading and lighting. We also took some
inspiration from Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014),
especially for the arguments and fighting. We wanted Kurtis to really embody
the anger and physical abuse that Ben Affleck’s character shows in the film,
almost as if showing no remorse. Besides, there were other nods to the film
such as an argument at the doorway as he storms out. We kept the inspiration
throughout the film as we highlighted the many intense emotions one may battle
in a broken relationship.
Right Back from Black Mirror (Brooker,
2011) was another influence in our production, especially in the scenes after
their big argument where they start to give each other the cold shoulder. One
scene in particular where both characters are seated at two opposing ends of a
couch watching TV was influenced by Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson’s
characters perfectly portraying distance, though near to each other.
This video relies a lot on symbolisms
to tell the story. Symbolic images help us to understand abstract concepts that
cannot always be translated into words. (Sheridan, 2004) Colour played a
significant role in portraying a contrast between her happier and sad times. Towards
the end of the video, everything goes back in reverse showing how it goes back
to the start, but it is just another cycle where everything is bound to happen
again. Finally we see them hand in hand, but she’s unhappy. Many couples are
stuck in these kinds of relationships, and in this case she has chosen to stay.
“If you are in a committed relationship
with someone who isn’t meeting your expectations they either won’t talk about
it or won’t do what you want, then you have two choices: You can leave, or you
can choose to accept them exactly as they are.” (Paul, 2017)
Throughout the course of this
production Max and I managed to balance our workload equally. We made sure that
our ideas were all a collaborative effort, and helped each other develop
creatively and professionally to achieve the best outcome. We co-directed and
co-produced this music video, but we also took charge of certain parts of
production respectively. Max mainly took charge of the production side, while
my main role was in post-production. Albeit the lack of equipment needed for
the shoot, we had to make do with what we have. Nevertheless, I still learnt a
lot on how to apply camera movements in our shots and how important it is to
tell our story as it was my first time working with tracks and dollies as well.
For pre-production I was the one who
wrote the story before bringing it out to life. After discussing our ideas with
Max, I wrote down a detailed treatment to summarize the key events of the
story, which then only we could proceed on with our scriptwriting. I also
planned out the props and wardrobe for the talents, which is something new to
me. Little did I know that they was more detail that needed to be thought of to
be able to tell our story.
For the post-production aspect I
wanted to make the narrative flow as smoothly as possible, with intercuts of
her singing in between the story. The style of the music video was very montage
style, aiming not to mimic reality but to draw attention to ideas by clashing
shots to create deeper meaning. (Barnwell, 2008) Particularly during the
flashbacks, we see how their romance bloomed while they were still happy. I
also wanted to portray the parallels and contrast between two separate scenes
through intercuts, similar to the one as shown in Crossing Points (2017), a short film by Wong Fu Productions. This
particular transition is done by having the subject shot in the exact sane
composition and framing for two different shots. For this instance, one moment
Hannah is in a restaurant enjoying herself in her date, another moment she is
at the dinner table angrily waiting for her boyfriend to come home. I made sure
that throughout the production we shot with our intended edit in mind.
Despite the fact that it was a small
production team of just me and Max, with some help from our friends, I believe
that we were able to balance our responsibilities well and managed our time to
make sure we were kept on track.
As a whole, I am proud of what we have
produced, despite the lack of manpower and budget. Our shots are well lit,
looks of professional standard, and we managed to achieve our goal of having
almost 80% of moving camera shots. It has really improved our quality of work
visually, as compared to previous projects.
I am also happy that we have a cast
who really dived deep into their emotions for the role, and it really shows in
music video. Furthermore, I am proud of our story as it is one with an
emotional impact, as intended with the original song, highlighting the aspects
of life that are sometimes not so often talked about.
However, there are indeed a few
aspects that I feel we could have improved upon to achieve a much better
outcome. For example, we relied on handheld shots too much and as a
consequence, some of our footage ended up being shaky. Even though that is a
minor problem but it is the tiniest details that make or break a film. We had
also made some mistakes that we overlooked during production. Some of our best
shots were out of focus, and the camera movements such as the opening argument scene
were not smooth. Thankfully, all these mistakes could be fixed in
post-production, but we should have been more alert while shooting. Some of our
shots could have been done better with the right equipment, but circumstances
had left us to make do with whatever we had.
Looking back at Skinny Love, there is definitely still room for improvement but
ultimately, it is still one of my prouder works.
Frith, S. (2005). Sound and vision. London: Routledge.
Sherman, E. (1988). Directing the film. Los Angeles:
Barnwell, J. (2008). The fundamentals of film-making. Lausanne:
Sheridan, S. (2004). Developing digital short films.
Indianapolis, Ind: New Riders.
Martin, L. (2014). 7 Stupid Reasons People Stay In
Relationships When They’re Unhappy. online Elite Daily. Available at:
Accessed 18 Jan. 2018.
Paul, M. (2017). This Is The Most Common Cause Of
Unhappiness In Relationships (According To A Couples Therapist). online
Available at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/your-relationship-is-probably-unhappy-for-this-reason
Accessed 18 Jan. 2018.
Gone Girl. (2014). film Dir. David Fincher, Ben Affleck,
Rosamund Pike, Twentieth Century Fox.
Birdy – Skinny Love Official Music Video. (2011). video
Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.
Crossing Points (2017). video Wong Fu Productions Available
at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXW1KE7MzzE Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.
Black Mirror. (2011). video UK: Charlie Brooker.