Josh Abbot Band | Wasn’t That Drunk

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Q&A with director
Evan Kaufmann

 

Q: How’d you get involved with the Josh Abbott Band? What was the process like of pitching your idea and selling them on your vision?

A: I’ve been working with Josh since 2008. We began working together when he saw this Wade Bowen video that I did when I was just getting started. Not long after that, I got a call from Josh, and he said that he loved my work. What was funny was that I didn’t know how to charge people for videos [laughs] because I had been doing stuff for free up until that point. But he’s been a client for years, now. As far as the pitching process, the video was Josh’s idea and we collaborated on it. We had never done a, sort of, “traditional,” CMT-type video before. Before that, we had dealt with heavier topics like sex trafficking and stuff, but Josh told me that he wanted to try and warmer, light-hearted video. So we developed the idea of having the performance in a loft, and it took off from there.

 

 

Q: What was different about shooting this music video as opposed to the ones you’ve done with them in the past?  

A: With the older videos and the work that we’ve done previously — we’ve just gotten better and better. In this video, I could just kind of play around with a lot of really nice imagery and focus on the emotions of the story. In the older videos I did with Josh, it was about the acting, and this one allowed us to do some really great performances plus have a lot of really great, cute character moments. It was a different muscle to flex, for sure.

 

Q: What immediately struck me was the long, tracking shot at the beginning. What was your inspiration for that shot, and what kind of coordination was involved with it?

A: I remember telling this to a friend: this was one of the hardest shoots I’ve ever done [laughs]. I flew into LA 3 days before, I hadn’t seen the location, and my DP was going to arrive like the day before from a shoot in Colorado. It was very scrambled. The shot was something I knew I wanted to get and I ended up doing it halfway through the shoot. [Josh] wanted to basically have a party [laughs], and so we were trying to do it with extras that had been drinking for like 6 hours. We ended up shooting 6 takes, which was actually fairly low for the kind of coordination that went into it, but it was definitely a challenge. I really love, and my approach is always, doing things that are cinematic. Josh asked me for a gorgeous, more mainstream video, so I tried to do that while also being as cinematic as possible. I tried to make something that was filmic and not something that’s overlit and too pop-y.

 

Q: You really succeeded at telling a complete story with the music video. When you’re only given the duration of a song, how do you weave a whole story? What visual elements do you utilize? How do the actual lyrics come into play?

A: I approached it without being too on the nose, but it’s definitely a story-driven song. I wanted to have story elements in there, definitely. The thing I like the most: the guy sees his old crush and they reconnect. However, what was most interesting to me was having Josh and Carly sing together. With them eyeing each other and singing together — they just had chemistry. Their energy was incredible, and I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s our video!” The alchemy was totally set, and I knew I needed fun B-roll footage — but the focus shifted to Josh and Carly because of their energy together. That’s what’s so much fun: to be open minded on the set and see what you find.

 

Q: Another element that was really interesting was the juxtaposition between the love scene and the single performances in the separate apartments. What was your main goal in the aesthetic, and how did you work to achieve it?

A: We kind of had to work with what we had. We discussed shooting the love scene at a hotel, but that was a logistical nightmare trying to do a whole company move and everything. The main thing I wanted was to keep a consistent look. The room in the love scene didn’t look like the apartment, but we threw in set dressing and lit it really warm. That process was tricky. I was freaking out about the love scene because I thought it was going to look so different; however, I think, overall, the vibes gelled really well together.