A Chinese fortune cat’s arm tilts back and forth almost ridiculing a girl who lays restless on her bed. She listens to a record player as painful thoughts run through her mind. In a lucid dream-like way, the girl then changes t-shirts over and over revealing imprinted messages that both reflect what she’s feeling and simultaneously divulge lyrics from Dillon Francis’ Without You. Her thoughts manifest into waking up repeatedly in scenes with a man, most likely the subject of all her ruminations.
As I watched this music video I realized two things. One, this girl has more problems than Hannah Horvath–wait, no one has more problems than Hannah Horvath. Two, the minds that created this came from three crazy filmmakers from LMU.
Loyola Marymount University alums Mister (Tomas) Whitmore (Production – B.A. ’06), Patrick Jones (Production – B.A. ‘07) and Devon Gibbs (Studio Arts – B.A. ‘07) are the inventive minds responsible for this visual treat. Whitmore and Gibbs co-directed while Jones was the cinematographer. The music video Without You will be playing in the Eclectic Mix Music Video Program at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. I got a chance to ask these three ingenious creatives what they were thinking.
“The idea spawned from the label, who originally wanted to do a lyric video using t-shirts,” said Whitmore. “We expanded on the idea by building out a narrative that really took its lead from the song’s lyrics, which is all about a girl not accepting that her boyfriend has broken up with her. The biggest thing we spent a lot of time working out was making sure that it felt like a wild ride into her emotional state.”
The visual ideas that were executed in the music video came from the two co-directors. “Tomas and I have very similar minds for creative, so we formed a really solid support system to bounce ideas back and forth,” said Gibbs. Gibbs works professionally as a print designer so his ideas came from a different place. “I have a slightly different visual vocabulary then a typical director. This gave us an opportunity to use my static designs as characters to fill out a motion piece and that was really a fun experience.”
As Whitmore and Gibbs developed the idea, he sent a treatment to Jones who was “stoked on it.” He knew to deliver the video they wanted, they had to stay within the modest budget they had. “We decided to put together a very small crew and shoot over a couple of days versus forcing ourselves into a quick shoot with more toys and people involved,” said Jones. “Tomas and Devon would come up with an idea, and then a few of us would sit around the table to figure out the best way on how to make it happen.”
The group’s collaborative chemistry was preordained. Whitmore, Jones and Gibbs have been working on each other’s projects since their days at LMU. “(Jones and Gibbs) were two guys whom I built strong creative relationships with back in college,” said Whitmore. “I met both of them at time when most young artists are still molding their creative ethos, and I think LMU provided the type of open and expressive environment that allowed for that sort of discovery.”
At LMU, Jones shot Whitmore’s short The Lonely Boys. “Tomas is full of excitement. He’s constantly running around, has so much energy and a strong creative voice,” said Jones. “I feel like I’m always looking for the next great students graduating from LMU to come work along side me.”
After speaking with Whitmore, Gibbs and Jones, a couple things bubble to the surface as the reasons why they’ve been successful. It’s all about relationships, from their connections at LMU, to PA and entry level jobs out of college, people they’ve worked for and all the people they’ve worked with since.
“I can connect the dots between my very first work experience to where I am today; it’s all one giant evolutionary blob in my mind,” said Whitmore. “I have this friend who always reminds me that ‘A single job doesn’t make a career.’ That’s a really refreshing thing to remind yourself of amidst the constant industry jargon that mutters ‘you’re only as good as your last work.’ I think that kind of mentality can be damaging sometimes, especially to a young artist. I don’t think you can make perfect work every day; there’s up’s and downs.”
For Without You, the t-shirts that were featured in the music video were sold by Dillon Francis and his management team to raise money for After School Matters, a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens with limited resources an after school program to enrich their education.
Click here for tickets and info for the screening of Without You at the L.A. Film Festival on June 13, 2014.
Watch Without You: