Silent Planet - "Understanding Love as Loss"
This past Thanksgiving, we had an opportunity to collaborate with Silent Planet's 3rd music video for their 2016 album release, Everything Was Sound. Videos produced post-album release are particularly exciting because fans are already familiar with the material on the album; and with this familiarity comes a heightened level of excitement prior to releasing a music video for a song that's already loved by Silent Planet's fans.
The concept for Understanding Love as Loss is more of a general, thematic expression instead of a traditional, unfolding narrative. There's an intent behind this, of course. While some music videos are written to tell a story, this method we used is intended to allow the viewer to tap into their own stories. Rather than painting a picture for the viewer, a thematically-driven video provides the canvas and colors, allowing the viewer to paint their own picture, so to speak. We want the viewer to derive an essence from the song rather than tell them a specific story.
Despite being thematically-driven, there is a narrative tied to the backbone of the visuals we developed. Silent Planet's vocalist, Garrett Russell, was particularly influenced by four influential authors: Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and David Foster Wallace. All of them ended their lives by way of suicide. Virginia Woolf in particular ended her life by filling her coat with stones and drowning herself in a lake. As the director, I wrote a treatment that combined the basic aesthetic of this author's demise with very specific themes that reflected my own experience as an individual affected by suicide.
In August 2015, my own father took his life in a desperate act to free himself from a 7-year crescendo of physical pain as well as the psychological illness of depression. I chose to illustrate "Life" - in my personal belief as God intended - through a free form improvisational dance. Our Triple Threat actress, Elizabeth, had a strong background in theater and dance, which resulted in the incredibly beautiful expression of Freedom we had hoped for. We were very fortunate to find and cast her for this role. Red Georgia Clay was introduced as a substance in an alternate duality that physically represented the heaviness burdening an individual dealing with depression and suicidal thinking. Clay was chosen intentionally over mud or dirt because it has an oily property to it that makes it astoundingly difficult to wash off, even with soap and water.
The more I pondered about how the author drowned herself, the more obvious it became to utilize Water as a theme. Her choice to attain freedom by "cleansing" herself of her struggles tied in directly with our clay theme. When these two themes are combined, we're left with the 3rd and final theme: the creation of Residue. Residue is important to our thematic portrayal because it illustrates the aftermath of what's left in the wake of suicide. There's little opportunity for reconciliation. I can't make amends with my father directly because he's gone. He left a stain on our family and friends that isn't so easily removed. We have wounds that partially heal, but never fully.
In the production, we have an illustration of water rushing into a clay pit with our actress desperately trying to climb out. While I've never been clinically depressed, I imagine that the soul and psyche of anyone going through such an illness has an innate desire to be free from it. We are born with an instinctual motivation to survive. No one would actively choose to be in such a state of demise and hopelessness - and knowing my father as an exceptionally logical, intellectual person, I knew his entire being was actively trying to clamor out of this clay pit he found himself in, fighting with desperation to avoid the looming solution he dared not succumb to. As his survivor, fragrances of healing have emerged through accepting his defeat and our loss.
The 4th theme of the video is the intended response for each viewer; for me this is the theme of Hope. Hope is the theme unearthed in my spirit while processing a response to the very film I created. As a believer in the Trinity, I believe in and have hope for a freedom beyond death's grasp and dominion over our failing bodies. While depression may win over the body, I believe it ultimately fails in the grand scheme of our souls and eternity. The very reason death scares us isn't the pain of passing through its gates; it's the fear of the unknown that lies on the other side. Hope is a direct catalyst for healing I have that I've drawn on my own canvas. It's very easy to put aside the hurt, distracting ourselves with substance to fill the void, reducing our wounds to a dull pain near the point of subconsciousness. However, music like Silent Planet's, created with intent, can stir an uneasiness in ourselves which usually means we have tensions in our lives in need of resolving. Our struggles and brokenness demands a response. While everyone's search for a response is different, I have a responder who met me in my clay pit - and his name is Jesus.
Lighting & BTS // Aaron Marsh
Assistant Cam Op // Drew Jacoby
PA // Grant Butler
Location Management // David Cobb
Talent // Elizabeth Sanford
Written & Directed by Kevin Johnson