Zenith

The purpose of the Senior Zenith Project is to ignite passion and elevate my skills and experiences to create the ultimate and most successful Freestyle project.

Proposal

For my Zenith project, I want to do a narrative music video similar to Marshmallow’s “Happier”.

Because I have already done a project surrounding post production, I want to focus on the actual production aspect of this project by developing my visual storytelling skills and using colors and light to effectively set a mood and convey a message. For pre-production I will work on songwriting and crafting lyrics that I will sing with my friend Leela who will accompany me with electric guitar. As of now, our song is about loneliness and the style is more alternative/indie. We will record the song in the studio then I will mix it together. For production, I will create and execute a shot list depending on the storyline I choose and shoot the footage. I want to work with set production/design more heavily to improve visual cues that will indicate the storyline without my use of words or narration. I am unsure if I want to do shots of me lip syncing and performing the actual song yet but I am open to it. For post, I will edit in Premiere pro and keep it light with cuts, with a bigger focus on color grading. This project is a passion for me because I love music and it’s amazing to me when a song can pull you out of your daily life and remind you of another time in your life. I want to be able to combine music with the visual storytelling of a narrative video to show others the power of collaboration between music and visuals.

Process

As the first step of my project, I worked on writing the song lyrics that will determine the content of my music video. The point of a music video is to highlight the message of the lyrics by providing visuals. I decided to write my song lyrics about the idea of loneliness vs. being alone. As I was writing, I felt the need to end the song by coming back to the idea of being alone, and how sometimes it can be better to be with yourself than to surround yourself with those who don’t mean anything. Here’s a rough draft of my lyrics:

am i alone? am i lonely?
some say they’re the same
i’m not alone
there are faces all around
but they’re all just a bunch of names i will forget.

there’s no names to count no numbers
that could help me escape from
this place within my head

there’s no destination
for my mind to desire
some days the static gets louder
i feel numb to the fire

how do i find myself if there’s no one to find
getting lost was a phase but you’re still on my mind

there’s no names to count no numbers
that could help me escape from
this place within my head

sometimes when it’s just me and the sky
it’s easier to see clearly
i can finally breathe
when the crowd fails to swallow me

and when i get the chance to just sit still
i realize there’s more to me
the warmth of home within my chest
I’m not lonely
just alone

yes i’m alone, but i’m not lonely
i belong within the trees
they guide me home
no confusion with the numbers
of all those names of faces i will forget…


Here is a still shot from one of my filming days.
Another still from my shoot.

Throughout this process, I have been editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Photo Gallery

Personally, photography has always been one of my greatest passions so I couldn’t go on a video shoot without snapping some photos! I had my actress Chloe change outfits depending on our location in order to portray a specific mood and to showcase contrast with the location. One of my favorite things to play with is color and light, so I really took into account the different color pallets I was featuring in my film.

Cover Art

I decided to add another aspect to my project because I had some extra time. I took a lot of pictures along the entire shoot and thought they could work well together in a sort of collage. I used Adobe Illustrator and Lightroom to edit some of my favorite photos and put them together as one album cover. I chose to keep a constant color theme in order to maintain a single mood that correlates to the video itself.

Cover Album for “Lone” by Mia Polcyn.

“Lone” by Mia Polcyn

Here is my video! I am very happy with how it turned out and I would hope to make another project like this sometime in the future. I learned a lot about visual storytelling and about how I feel on the topic.

Here is the finished product.

Reflection

For our final project as students at Freestyle Academy, our only requirement was to pursue an interest that we’ve discovered throughout our past two years of exploring the variety of mediums in art. Knowing that this project was the ultimate goal at Freestyle, I had genuinely been brainstorming ideas for my Zenith since junior year. I’ve always loved music and singing, but it’s usually something I do for fun. However, having some of my closest friends in Freestyle helped me to visualize a project where I could combine my love for singing with a form of visualization in my film class. Long story short, I decided to write a song with one of my super talented friends, and make a music video to go along with it. Over summer, I started writing lyrics with my friend Leela, a task that ended up being a lot harder than I had imagined. The inspiration for the song came from my true feelings towards this year and writing it actually helped me find closure within my own feelings, something I’ve always loved about music. Because of the song’s indie style, I knew that I wanted my music video to be in a more vintage setting, with an old 80s film vibe. This project was easy more me to be motivated about because I would be able to work on and improve my visual storytelling, something that I hope to continue to pursue in my future. I have always been super passionate about photography, and this project actually allowed me to translate an idea of a still image into footage that captured the true emotion of the song.

After researching the evolution of obscenity in music videos from the MTV era to now, I was able to gather knowledge about how these artists have learned more creative ways to tell a story through a video. It helped me realize that the meaning in each shot needed to really match the mood of the song so that a viewer could watch the video and really understand the music without even really paying attention to it. These two topics connect because my video takes on a more vintage vibe which had to match a certain era of music. I looked into a lot of MTV music videos from the 70s and 80s to try to match the style. For this project, I was able to collaborate with my fried and model, Chloe Christiansen, which ended up being even more successful than I imagined. I was happy that I got to handle the directing and editing mostly by myself, but when it came to subject matter, Chloe was perfect. I felt that her style and energy really matched what I was going for, and she was open-minded enough to shoot with me in the middle of the crowded streets of San Francisco.

If I was able to do this project over again, I would definitely try to get a wider variety of shots using more techniques to maintain the interest and element of surprise throughout my video. I also would have experimented with recording the song in an actual studio so that I could play more with stronger acoustics and instrument mixing. Overall, I believe that I developed my visual literacy significantly because of the role I played in shooting film that meshed with my song as perfectly as possible. Because of this project, I’ll always remember to experiment and take risks in order to get the shot. I’ve learned that even the crazy ideas can end up being the ones that work the best.

After partaking in the ultimate Freestyle Project, I am surprised to say that I feel like this project is one of the best ones I’ve done in my two years. I can tell that I truly ignited my passion because of how relaxed I was during the process and how much fun I had at each step. The excitement each round of dailies brought me was unmatchable, and definitely encouraged me to keep shooting high quality clips on each day of shooting. I have always been a perfectionist about my work, and I think that quality shined perfectly through with this project. I truly put all of my energy and class time into making this video into a product I could be proud of. Being able to present my work in front of the whole school made me feel so happy that other people were proud of it too, especially my teachers. I am lucky to say that my work represents Freestyle Academy, and I will never forget the passion for storytelling that my peers and teachers have installed inside me throughout my time here. This project helped me self-reflect in a way that I believe everyone should experience through whichever medium they choose. I would hope that the work I’ve left behind here at Freestyle will continue to inspire students to do so for years to come.