Risa Rubin’s “Cry Longer” Music Video and Director Interview
We just can’t get enough of Risa Rubin! Last week, our very own Sabina Fooks had the privilege of sitting down with Risa to talk about her unique, exciting music. Recently, she’s released a music video to her track, “Cry Longer,” directed by the talented Jackie! Zhou. Our film editor, Sergio Zaciu, got the chance to meet up with Jackie! and discuss the creative process that led to the creation of this somber portrait of femininity through the ages. But before we delay you any further, enjoy the video:
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF DIRECTING RISA RUBIN’S “CRY LONGER”?
I was really itching to direct a project in a more serious way for a while. Prior to that, the most serious thing I made was a short film called MONEYSHOT. I really love directing and was still trying to figure out my voice as a director, and Risa was a regular at this thing my friends and I organized called the Tiny Apartment Show, where friends would come to my apartment and perform music, poetry and so on. I realized this could be a really cool collaboration. Cry Longer is this really interesting blend of happy and whimsical music with sad content which really resonated with me. The “pool” aesthetic really made sense to me; girls, crying in pools. So I really hoped Risa would see this the way I saw it, so I pitched it to Risa, and she was down! And it just kind of blossomed from there.
WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN GETTING THE VIDEO MADE?
It was pretty much free range, but I was really open to collaborating and workshopping with Tanner [our DP] and Sabina [our Producer]. At a certain point there was a realistic realization that I wouldn’t be able to show women filling up swimming pools with their tears in a low-budget music video. But there was just this thing where I really wanted to romanticize crying and feelings, so the idea of making the tears colorful was important. We all workshopped it and made sure it fit with the song’s meaning.
IN WHAT WAY DID THE MUSIC INFORM ON YOUR STYLISTIC CHOICES?
I think because the music is fairly gentle, I didn’t make my edits quite as punchy and flashy [as I usually would], so it was an exercise in self-restraint. Risa helped with that a lot. Helping moments breathe and making sure that it’s not cut-cut-cut, girl-girl-girl, but that each sequence played out like a full portrait of one person.
Image Source: Screenshot
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS MORE OF A LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE FILMMAKER?
Definitely more figurative, although there are literal tears in “Cry Longer.” It wasn’t like I was listening to it and thought, “Well, this lyric means that we need to show THIS.” It was more along the lines of figuring out “Here is the climax of the song, so I want an emotional beat here.”
YEAH, I REALLY LOVE THE PROGRESSION OF THE SONG AND HOW IT FLOWS CHRONOLOGICALLY.
Yeah, it’s very formatted.
IS THERE ANY MUSIC VIDEO YOU WISH YOU HAD DIRECTED?
Whoa. There are so many. I mean, I grew up watching blocks of music videos on MTV and MTV2. I really love “Sugar Water,” the Cibo Matto music video. Have you seen it?
It’s these two screens, and they’re basically the same thing, but one is playing in reverse and the other plays forwards and they meet halfway. Otherwise I really would love to direct a music video for MITSKI’s “First Love / Late Spring”.
Image Source: Screenshot
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER CINEMATIC INFLUENCES AND HOW DID THEY INFLUENCE YOU AS A MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR?
I definitely draw a lot from animation in general. Whether it’s from something as mainstream as SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS or anime, animation has always been a huge inspiration to see things with more color and exaggerated motions. I would say that animation as a format has definitely inspired me. AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER is a huge influence for me. Otherwise, I guess it’s all children’s programming. [Laughs] But something that’s great about children’s programming is this willingness to push reality.
AND IT’S A LOT OF VISUAL STORYTELLING, SO IT LENDS ITSELF NICELY TO MUSIC VIDEOS.
IF YOU WERE GIVEN CARTE BLANCHE TO MAKE ANY KIND OF MUSIC VIDEO, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Hmm… It really depends on the song, but I guess I always wanted to make a music video that has multiple people and multiple stories going on at once. And if I could invent new technology along with that would be great; like, if I would film five videos for the same song and use interactive music video functions so that the viewer could choose what story to follow. To have people interact with them, that would be the dream.
MUSIC VIDEOS ALWAYS SEEM SO FUN SINCE THEY LEAVE SO MUCH ROOM FOR EXPERIMENTATION, BUT WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN DIRECTING A MUSIC VIDEO?
I think the freedom can be fun, but creative ideas are born out of restrictions. There were no deadlines on this project, so one of the biggest challenges was knowing when to stop. In the end you know there could be a million versions of this video if you keep editing, so the challenge of letting go is really huge. Coming from a narrative, editing background, I always wanted edits to look seamless, but I had to learn to let go of rules. The first edit of this video was technically perfect, but it didn’t look right, so I had to learn to let go of rules and possibilities.
Image Source: Screenshot
WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO MAKE MUSIC VIDEOS?
Surround yourself by people that you are inspired by. I think there’s a mutual respect, especially when you’re working low-budget and are doing these passion projects. There’s nothing that matters more than surrounding yourself with people that your have respect for.
WITH THE DECLINE OF TELEVISED MUSIC VIDEOS, DO YOU THINK MUSIC VIDEOS ARE A DYING ART? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE OF MUSIC VIDEOS?
It’s a dying art in terms of mainstream audiences. TRL, citing videos and all that. But with the internet, everything has changed. Suddenly niche audiences are mainstream audiences within their own subcultures. When you are looking for an artist that you care about it’ll really excite you to see a music video, but yeah, your aunt probably won’t stumble upon the video. So in a way music videos will become more insular. It’s a pro and con, but I think people that appreciate it will get the opportunity to get closer to the creators.
AWESOME, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SITTING DOWN WITH US, JACKIE!
Of course! Thank you, Sergio!