This summer I was approached by Sam Roberts and the band about the possibility of directing a music video for their latest album, COLLIDER. They wanted to do something different, not a predictable performance video, so I had the freedom to do something I thought would be exciting. I spent a week listening to the album while reading the lyrics and riding the subways of New York. I wanted to explore the struggle of urban life through an unlikely character, and one of the ideas I proposed was the portrayal of an urban beekeeper. As a documentary filmmaker, I wanted to show a day in the life of this person. My neighborhood, the border of Williamsburg and Bushwick, was an ideal location. These streets have witnessed an unstoppable gentrification, so I wanted to shoot some of the abandoned buildings before they’re swallowed up. But I had to find an actual beekeeper, someone who deals with the struggle of urban life every day. For weeks I went to hive inspections with New York’s tight-knit beekeeping community and at the last minute, found the perfect lead. The first shoot was on one of New York’s typical 100 degree summer days. Sweating under the sun, we filmed our beekeeper effortlessly tending to her hives on their Brooklyn rooftop. It was starting to come together, but the beekeeper needed to have a dramatic encounter to elevate the story. Sam and I had worked on a video years ago, a gritty urban tale, and he wanted to evoke a similar emotion. We decide to plunge her into an encounter with a dark force. By the end, the video had transformed into a sort of short film. I can thank Sam for pushing this project into the realm of something truly different.
Right after I made my first documentary in the late 90s, I was living in Montreal and met Sam and members of what would eventually become the Sam Roberts band. The first music video I ever did was for them, an underground version of Brother Down, unreleased at the time. I also made a few video installations for shows of theirs in Montreal and Toronto. After moving to Brooklyn in 2000, I focused on documentaries, often about music. I went on to work with artists as diverse as seminal Brooklyn rock band Oneida to hip-hop legend Tragedy Khadafi. This summer, I released MAKE, the documentary that inspired Sufjan Steven’s last album. My current project, WITHOUT ART, is an analysis of the pollution of contemporary art.