‘February 12th, 1910. It was the biggest snowfall on record in New York State, but the headline that ran in all the papers the next day wasn’t about the weather, it was about me; the first invisible baby…’
So begins Vancouver art-pop singer-songwriter Hilary Grist’s newest adventurous music video. This time incorporating elements of classic 1950s detective film noir with an invisible super-human twist. And just in time for the cold, foggy days of autumn and next week’s All Hallow’s Eve when we all want to indulge in a little campy make believe.
A whole cast of kooky 50s era gents and dames bring the video’s off the wall comic book mystery to life: an invisible detective, a femme fatale, a torch singer, a couple of mobsters and a mad scientist.
The video was filmed at the infamous Penthouse Nightclub in Vancouver and, unbelievably, in Hilary’s 600 square foot apartment where they built sets for the home-made science lab and the invisible detective’s office. “I like to take a hands-on approach in making my music videos.” says Grist. “Being involved in building the props and set decorating is challenging but also really rewarding.” The sets were built from scratch out of plywood, a style used on old TV shows and films. The ‘science lab’ set was constructed on one side of the walls and the ‘detective office’ set on the other, allowing the team to save space and quickly switch between the two locations.
Hilary along with her director, producer and husband, Mike Southworth, were heavily involved in every step of the process. “By doing as much as possible ourselves, we were able to spend the limited budget we had on the important things like professional equipment, cast and crew,” says Southworth. “Director of Photography Byron Kopman was brought in because of his dark sci-fi experience on TV’s ‘Supernatural’. Local actors Kendra Anderson, Ryan Smith and Gregory Berry played brilliant lead roles alongside a Vancouver music scene who’s who of cameo appearances. But possibly one of the most interesting parts of the film is it’s mixture of old film styles and approaches. We studied a lot of film noir classics and 1930s sci-fi movies. We ended up doing almost all of the special effects for real, in-camera, which is how they had to do it back then,” says director Mike Southworth.
The DIY duo have been a building a reputation for highly imaginative and ambitious music videos since Hilary’s ‘Tall Buildings’ video in 2011 featuring a handmade 8ft cardboard piano-city. “This time, we wanted to make a fun mini film with a narrative.” says Hilary. “The song’s lyrics are a reminder of how as life goes on we tend to grow more and more careful when what we really need to remember is to let go. The older I get, the more I want to re-capture that magical feeling of wild child-like fantasy. My music, art and videos do that for me – and hopefully for others too!”