Crowdfunding Pick: CLARA-NOVA Music Video

“I see and hear a lot of female stories that aren’t getting told and if I can write them, embody them, get someone to give me money to put them on the silver screen, then I will.”

Still from “Electric”

Music videos were my first introduction to the concept of filmmaking. I avidly watched music videos (first on the countdown shows and then online) and used to make up my own to my favourite songs. It never really clicked, though, that it was a real thing I could do so here we are almost two decades later and I’m just a big fan of music videos instead.

So when the team behind “Electric,” an upcoming music video for artist CLARA-NOVA got in touch about their crowdfunding campaign, I was already sold. Music video? Yes, please. A music video directed, shot, produced by women and featuring a female artist? Obviously. All of that plus set in Paris and described as a “sensory ride as we rekindle the thrill of young love.” UM, ABSOLUTELY. (Also the song is super fab too.)

The “Electric” crowdfunding campaign has just over a week left, which means there’s plenty of time to share and, if you feel so inclined, donate your hard-earned dollars. We had a chance to chat with director Laura Beckner and indie pop artist Sydney Wayser about the project—read on below!

Laura Beckner

Laura Beckner is a writer, director, and actor. Her film directing debut, (le) Rebound, premiered at the 2017 Aspenshorts Film Festival and won Best Short Film at the Woodstock Film Festival, Best Filmmaker award at ARFF Around Films Amsterdam and the ICG Emerging Cinematographer Award. She has a feature film in development and she can be seen on the upcoming season of TV series Deutschland 86.

Sydney Wayser (CLARA-NOVA)

CLARA-NOVA is the latest musical project from French-American indie pop artist Sydney Wayser. With influences ranging from Jeff Buckley to Feist to Serge Gainsbourg, her music has been added to dozens of tastemaker playlists, with the press dubbing her “one to watch.” She has performed with Lorde, The Kooks, and Lucius to name a few and has been featured playing at SXSW and on Last Call with Carson Daly.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with music / filmmaking.

Laura Beckner: I’ve been an actor and singer my whole life. I did commercials and lots of musical theater when I was young. I started writing comedy sketches in college and I realized I liked being on the other side of filmmaking too and that’s what led me to directing.

Sydney Wayser: I have been playing music since I was a kid. My dad is a musician and I grew up listening to him play and sing his songs. I’d sit on his lap and put my hands on his hands while he played the piano to feel what it felt like to play. Eventually I started to write my own songs and music has been my life’s passion ever since.

Behind the scenes of “Electric”

Tell us about “Electric” (The song and also the video)! Where did the idea come from?

SW: “Electric” is an unabashed love song. It’s about that first blush moment, that spark. When director Laura Beckner and I were conceptualizing the video, we knew in an instant it needed to be about unexpected love and the opening up of life and adventure as a result. We decided on Paris as the location: the city of love, the city of lights. Once that was set, the rest wrote itself quite naturally.

LB: The song is about love. For me, the concept of someone moving through life unconnected and then having an unexpected person in unexpected places break you open—that’s love; the highs and the lows, when time stands still and then the speediness of it all. I felt all those moments happening in a city like Paris, where style and life and struggle spill out into the beautiful streets.

Still from “Electric”

I imagine it varies per project, but can you walk us through the process of going from song to music video? Is the song always the jumping off point?

LB: I wanted to do a music video for Sydney. I loved everything about who she was, her music and her style. I trusted that we had a shared appreciation of each other as artists that would result a beautiful collaboration. Sometimes that’s the best place to start. We bet on each other before there was any specific song or concept.

What would be your number one bit of advice for folks shooting on a super tight budget?

LB: You have to get over any shame about asking for favours right from the get go. Ask, ask, ask. People will say no and try to make you feel bad and you have to dust yourself off and move right on to the next.

What excites you about using crowdfunding?

LB: Crowdfunding is an amazing experiment in psychology and generosity. I have had complete strangers back my projects because they like my vision, which reminds me to keep going. I’ve also had people from my past come from out of nowhere to offer their support, like a friend who I waited tables with years ago at a restaurant. That reminds me that every chapter of life counts.

SW: Crowdfunding is a fun way to be connected with your fans and community. What I’ve learned through crowdfunding is people show up in incredible and unexpected ways! Your friends share posts, donate, contribute art for exclusives, etc. You very quickly see your tribe grow in width and in depth. People want to see you succeed and their endless support provides strength, confidence, and courage to continue the project during all the ebbs and flows.

Behind the scenes of “Electric”

Tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who are working on this project!

LB: The women just kept pouring in! Meagan Adele Lopez our producer is a powerhouse in Paris who is doing everything from producing features, writing her own work to organizing a yearly retreat for creatives in the French countryside. Ludovica Isidori, our cinematographer, is a tiny Italian ball of fire who works all the time in Los Angeles. We were so lucky to have her on board and it was my first time directing alongside a female DP, the experience was wonderful—we were a great, albeit tough, team! But there are so many more: our assistant camera Fanny Boutonne, who was integral to the production and just three steps ahead of us all the time; our production designer Julie Trudgett somehow transformed a bathroom in the basement of a club into a glam shot… The whole team was amazing.

Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your work.

LB: I believe that the way our world is now, women absolutely have to work twice as hard to have the careers that men have and also in their families and personal lives. We are dealing with very, very old social constructs that just don’t support a modern way of thinking about gender roles or what life is about. I see and hear a lot of female stories that aren’t getting told and if I can write them, embody them, get someone to give me money to put them on the silver screen, then I will.

Still from “Electric”

Who are your favourite women working in the industry?

LB: Katherine Bigelow, Agnes Varda, Jane Campion, Tina Fey, Sarah Treem

What’s the best advice about creating you’ve ever received?

LB: Don’t compromise your vision.

Stop making excuses. Just do it, get it made, and get it finished.

What mythical creature do you wish actually existed?

LB: I mean, I immediately thought of a pegasus…

SW: I’ll double down on Pegasus as well!

If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

LB: Marlene Dietrich

Recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers!

LB: Not for everyone, but if you can do horror… Raw, written and directed by Julia Ducournau (by the way, it’s her first film!).

Follow along with the team production diary here.
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