Head Like a Kite: “Director’s Cut”

Introducing “Director’s Cut” my latest music video and the latest track from the electronic duo Head Like a Kite (this time featuring MC Tilson).

If you’re a photo/video lover, a music aficionado, a do-gooder or any combo therein please pass this along. We created this pro-bono and it’s my hope it’ll inspire you and your friends to pull out $7 for 30 exclusive tracks from Seattle’s hottest bands as a part of our GiveSeattle.org project. Included in this uber-affordable compilation are exclusive tracks from Fleet Foxes, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), and many more. And a reminder that 100% of sales–every cent of that 7 bucks–goes directly to Art Corps and Seattle area food banks.

If you’re a photo/video nut like me and you want to know more about how we made this little video inside a video, complete with behind the scenes photos, hit the ‘continue reading link’ below.

1. Concept/Treatment. Ever felt like you’re staring in the movie that is your own life? The drama, the celebration, those stranger than fiction moments. Life can be a mysterious state where you’re sometimes not sure if you’re awake or dreaming. The lyrics to this song are a stream of consciousness about precisely this. I wanted some visuals to match. Some elements to match reality, some that don’t make sense, and some that toggled Tilson (the guest MC and “star” of the vid) both IN and OUT of that state.

2. Mood. Head Like A Kite are all about a party. They’re all sorts of crazy talented, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s refreshing. And it was important to them the the video reflected that. Hence the “cartoon-y” feel to the video.

3. Constraints.
Given a. that we’re making this video as a part of our holiday project to raise awareness for our fundraiser; and b)that we’ve set some “loose” parameters on ourselves and other vid makers for the project that we want them to be simple enough to be shot in one take or thereabouts.

4. Mechanisms. The mechanisms we used to create all three of above are pretty simple: First, we filmed a path in an around our studio WITHOUT the lead character except for the very beginning and the very end (so he could pop in and out of his life), but WITH the band popping up in various places, timed with the chorus.

“I close my eyes so I can watch the dreams suspend night. All of this time the movie reels spin in my mind”

That was shot in 3 takes.

Second, we sewed those 3 takes together into one movie. We made it black and white and we projected it a screen, at life-size proportions.

Third, we put MC Tilson in front of that screen and filmed him “inside” the projected video while he delivered the lyrics and moved throughout the lifesized world we created according to a series of choreographed moves that had him moving in and out of doorways, up stairs and around corners. We made it just real enough to make it believable but seem to the trained eye that somethings just not quite right (ala the awake/dream state.

Hope you dig. Here’s some photos to show you our setup.

Please visit www.giveseattle.org and download our #1 selling album in Seattle right now for just $7. Help those less fortunate and get some great new tunes.

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LOVED IT! WOW that was AWESOME! That song was great and the video was very well done! Good job to all involved!

Sam Rogers says:

This video was a breath of fresh air… really dope!!!

Hey Nevton. Dave from Head Like a Kite here. Here are the lyrics:

Film with no edits Life's one take
Get a body double for the close-up
Up-close personal problem with daily's
Last minute rewrites we
wrongs casted
pre productions post production
Onscreen Love interest off screen actress stays in character method thespian theater trained thespian all lines remembered and delivered on cue motion picture debut lighting is an issue scouted location cinematic impact directors vision intact a movie made for the lead I didn't have to read but when I hears action watch their reaction Plus I'll do my own stunts what more do you want before we roll tape'n what's my motivation other than
Budget camera time and nominations or the criticism false words
from conversation

" I close my eyes so I can watch the dreams suspend night
All of this time the movie reels spin in my mind"

Feel like an extra in my own life stand'n around with no parts don't look directly in the camera when the scene starts don't look directly at anyone that has parts just stay on mark right there stay parked as I keep shooting at a clock try'n kill time me joy on cutting room floor They done killed kind tell the grip ta get a grip and anything than can lift No thanks to your support I'm making guerilla short Soon to be on IFC then pan back to me Then pan back to me Aces Deuces answer print black bag frame rate day for night depth of field jump cut shutter Gate

"I close my eyes so can watch the dreams suspend night
All of this time the movie reels spin in my mind"

With a Co star So I'm in
STAR Co -m-p-a-n-y
Dolly on super 8 emotion like emlution
Developed at the magic hour silhouette on silver screen safe area room tone work print Color temp Light so ambient Academy leader numbered down
were sidewalks float above the ground
you have to leap to meet the street street street
street car named no tires will take you on the fastest trip you've ever known

"I close my eyes so I can watch the dreams suspend night
All of this time the movie reels spin in my mind"

nevton says:

hey give us foreginers – lirics for this song
please please
i can understood while reading in english
no good while hear and also write :(

Very nice vid. I like how your doing more and more now. keep up the good work.


JJNJ says:

I've been checking out Head Like a Kite on LALA, I am into them now.

Thanks Chase

cool video with good edits keep it up

Nima says:

Amazing song and music video. Very refreshing to see.

I really like the garage door closing on the band shot, very cool.

Christopher Stampar says:

This is brilliant Chase! Such a creative way to shoot the video, very different and vastly entertaining. You never cease to amaze. thanks for the breakdown too!


fxmixer says:

Dude, there's so much awesome here! Don't know if it was intentional or not, but the garage door going up and down at the beginning looks like level meters on an amp; so sweet. Keep the creativity coming!

Zac Crow says:

Is anyone else having trouble viewing the vids?

I am using Safari.


J.W. Ramp says:

I just bought and downloaded the GIVE Seattle album and tossed it into iTunes – bummer, because there's no metadata in the tracks – such a pain in the ass copying all the artist names over into the proper fields…

Do you have any pull with the GIVE Seattle crew to get those files remade?

earl says:

ok, i'm gonna get flamed for saying this but that was about 100 bazzillion times better than your last music video, i was connected, i was engaged and most importantly it FELT like a chase jarvis "joint" (is that the hipster phrase for it?), it had your style all over it, and thats why it works. it was fun and free and engaging, and you didn't try to over do it, plus that dude looks like someone you would want to hang out with.

so in your language…"that was sick stupid shkeezy weezy flip floppy fly on the download kicking it old school style..", sorry, i'm 38 and not hip :-)

great work.

Squeeker says:

Holy Cow! I LOVE this video and the music! I can't stop watching it!

Jeff says:

I really dug the video the first time watching it (the song is great!). But, after reading and seeing how you did it and rewatched it, wow, that is frigging wild. The sense of motion through the scene from the camera angle and Tilson's body positioning is just too cool!

David says:

That was stinkin' rad! x-D

Had to re-watch after seein how you did it. Now where's my credit card…? *looks around*

mike says:

Gritty and ultra urban – stoked bro!

Daven says:

Chase, this is incredible. I think this is honestly your best video work yet. I believe that constraints — be they budget, time, equipment, or otherwise — do not close creative doors, but open them. This is proof right here. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real!

Sounds like a great project…good luck.

luckyamorosa says:

Awe-Inspiring …. :-) love it the whole Idea & Concept !!!!

Chase Jarvis says:

@michael walker: indeed I dig the meta layers.

Chase Jarvis says:

we kept the shadow in the foreground and the in there, honestly, so it felt underproduced, projected, and artificial. if our goal was to create a "perfect" or "professional" video, we'd have siimply put two more days in shooting and another half day in rehearsal/post, and it would have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

but we didn't. instead we did it in 8 hours over two days, on purpose, and we had a blast. it should feel like that. but you better believe we'll do it again ;)

AsherSN says:

I liked the ‘not so commercial’ look very much. it was a cool representation of the band. much more personal, which i think made it easier to really enjoy the music.
I only wish i could find more of Tilson’s music!
I have only found a short video clip about soggy rice and the other great song ft. hlak.
Do you know any places where I could find more?


Alex H says:

Really liking the loose-ness of this vid Chase (and Scott and D). Not overproduced but a ton of really cool things going on with the effed up colors and shadows and perspectives. Makes my head feel a bit like a kite. On a boozy afternoon.

Anytime you need a guy for the panda suit, you know who to call.


I would like to know how you made the shadows moving on and off of the lead character? Video was cool, and cooler still after reading your description of how it was done.

rj says:

It's OK for a non-budget video. The music is not as annoying as in your previous video (the one with a nazi) and the video is OK-ish, but I won't say it's done fully professional. It looks like a rough version pre-postproduction.

The shadow at the bottom is really annoying as well as the random shadows at the singer's face. In one moment there's clearly some f*up when the singer is standing right in front of the band and his shadow is apparently casting on green screen or some wall.

All in all, not a great video. not totally boring for your fan as we can see more of your fabulous studio!

durrdesign says:

Love the song but that shadow on the bottom just keeps bothering me.

It's great to see your evolution as an artist unfold in front us all.

Perfect idea and perfect execution. Same as Zack Arias, I wasn't impressed at first but after a bit, I was drawn in completely:)

Magster says:

I second Zack. Thought it was bog standard at first, turns out it was first class! We need a how-to video, pls, thx v much.

Zack Arias says:

Give Seattle note —> I ordered the tracks, got the welcome email, but then the download code email never came.

For some reason the welcome email scoots through the spam filter but my spam filter caught the download code email even though it is from the same email address as the welcome email. Strange but the good folks at Give Seattle told me this may be the issue and sure enough it was. They are working on it.


At first I thought it was chroma key. But then I thought it looked too smooth so it must be in camera. Then I was wondering how did he walk up those stairs without looking down once? So no, I didn't have it figured out. Dig the track. Thanks for sharing.

Bartek says:

Great job again, Chase!

Panda costume ^^


ONE POT says:

my friend, you and your crew continue to amaze me – and fuckin hats off to tilson, dave, and trent – they boyz are the best!

Rob King says:

Chase this is insane. Love the idea.

Sick job! I couldn't figure out why he was "walking" so weird… Now it makes sense!

Insanely great video, insanely great music! I love it! Great concept!

Photobby says:

Filthy. Took me till the second chorus to figure out what was up with the vid. Well thought out. High school out of the box thinking but with pro polish.

Lucas Botz says:

Awesome!! I love the way you did it and how raw it is. Way to go outside the box.

Matt Lange says:

Wow, crazy simple execution with a tremendous result. As someone who does photography and video for a living, I'm impressed. Kudos to you, your team and the bad.


Ghislain says:

I understand Zack's comment. But something is bugging me… When the main singer is lost in the dark and we loose contact with his eye… seems odd… I like the movement, the way it's filmed but then you see the shadow of a microphone on his face, kinda weird.! :) Not trying to minimize your work Chase, I am a big fan but I find this one weird… But I'll watch it again read your comments as well maybe there is a reason why this is done like this. :) cheers!

OKAY! I'm a sucker for things like this, but I think I get it. If indeed I DID see a separation point at 3:22, it was extremely well-hidden–But I'm still trying to prove it to myself.
Great video. Beautiful grit, and a lot of fun to watch.

Zack Arias says:

Now I've gone in and read the tech to see if it meshed up with my reverse engineering ideas.

Well done indeed. I've purchased the tracks!


Tim says:

Thats sick Chase. Thanks for the behind the scenes. When I was watching it I was like WTF is going on!

Well done like always. I think the key part in all of your vids is everyone is having fun. Keep up the good work.

Seems like you love meta layers in your art, nice job!

Kain says:

Awesome video Chase! I really dig their sound. Thanks for introducing them to us.

Eric says:

Dude, I dig. Great work!

Zack Arias says:

For the first 30 seconds or so I was really unimpressed. Then about half way through I started to turn my head to one side like a dog. By the end I was saying "How in the FCK did he do that?"

Holy shit holmes. Well done. It looks simple enough but I can only imagine that was a pain in the ass! Great job!

AND… I love that song!


matt s. says:

Featuring CJ in a panda costume!

That was awesome, thanks for sharing.

My new mantra for all things creative: WWCJD?

Nice Nice Nice!!!! Chase that was outta control nasty man! The vid was great really like how you punched the emcee in and out at the front and back. Also the shadow on the emcee through the garage matched what he was walking through. Good work! Also Great song! I'm getting that music tonight! "…shooting the clock to kill time" The emcee in me wants to fly out and chipher with the band & emcee. Seriously, his word play was slick and the music was blaze!

Jason D. Smith says:

Great vid Chase! At first my thought was "damn, that's a big garage". But then it was "No, that's a big studio". Then I was caught looking forward to what he was walking thru next because I was never quite sure. Fun stuff!

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