Cinematographer Ed Reiss teams with Australian band Polaris to shoot the music video for their track ‘Masochist’ – by Ed Reiss
When Polaris first sent over the lyrics and meaning of the song Masochist I ended up being so inspired that I sent over three unique treatments for them to choose between.
We ended up collaborating on the concept and merged two of my treatments into one, taking the best parts of each. The newly defined concept became a representation of something I tend to find recurring all the time in the creative industry: perfectionism. The desire to do better, and how that feeling of never being 100% happy with any finished piece of work can both elevate us and sometimes destroy us.
With this renewed concept in the bag, I really wanted to find the perfect talent to help breathe life into the main character of this story. I ended up reaching out to Zach Britt, vocalist from the band Dream On, Dreamer. I had previously worked on a music video with Dream On, Dreamer and I vividly remembered being impressed with Britt’s raw performance and relentless energy on set when filming. In way’s, he reminded me of the late Heath Ledger. Britt had this untapped spark that I was looking to bring further to light.
It all fell into place knowing that Britt is an artist himself, which enabled me to further expand on parts of the narrative so that we were actually able to have him create a painting from scratch, and even use some of his original paintings for our art department to dress the set. It was truly amazing to see him work from a blank canvas in real-time. It really created a palpable buzz on set that lasted the entire day.
As I both directed and shot this music video, it was vital for me to have a solid crew that I trusted around me, to help bring the vision to life. I called on board Anthony Littlechild as my B-camera operator to capture the raw energy on set. We could only paint once and destroy once; there were no resets. Having that extra angle was pivotal in creating a raw experience.
For the entirety of the clip we only shot in the one room, with an exception to the opening sequence. Speaking beforehand with my gaffer, Scott Pope, we decided on utilising the beautiful floor to ceiling windows and implementing a host of ARRI HMIs to create a continuity to the natural daylight coming through. We strategically diffused the light with layers of thin painter’s plastics that was part of our overall set design. After we had our lighting in position our main goal throughout the day was to bring in negative fill to control the light in close-ups.
For the look of the clip, I decided to opt for the Lomo round front anamorphic lenses. This came down to their lovely flaws that I’ve grown to adore over time. This translated nicely into the artists brush strokes – full of colour, character and quirks.
Over recent times I’ve been deconstructing the one-man-band approach and have delegated work amongst a larger crew. However, heading into this project I knew that I wanted to dedicate a large portion of the budget for our set design, which had me take on the reigns of editor and colourist once again!
With the concepts darker undertones and perfectionist nature being something that can relate back to personal works, especially after having put so much of myself into the project, I definitely am proud of the efforts of my crew in creating our final product.
Ed Reiss is a cinematographer from Melbourne with over seventy-plus music videos and counting in his arsenal of work.