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Good Nightly to The Nightly Show

I was mindlessly checking Facebook one afternoon and was completely stunned and saddened to learn that one of the few new shows that I regularly watched, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore was cancelled by Comedy Central after two seasons.

Wuuuuuut?

Courtesy of littlegreenfootballs.com

Courtesy of littlegreenfootballs.com

Actually, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as there have been continuous signs that the show hasn’t clicked with many people. Ratings were always low and very rarely got media attention, until the announcement of the untimely cancellation, where the consensus is that this is a huge injustice and will leave a vacuum for sharp political commentary.

I am certainly disappointed by this news, even though it wasn’t a perfect show. In fact Nightly had lots of rough patches. Quite a number of the sketches from the earlier run such as the amateur theater reenactments of headline news were embarrassingly lame. There were far too many editions of “Nightly, Nightly” a misfire parody of the celebrity driven Entertainment Tonight-style of news stories, made totally unbearable by Grace Parra’s annoying overacting.

The most problematic element of the show, the panel discussions, were usually mediocre at best, hampered in part by the brevity of each episode and partly by the guests, entertainers who didn’t always have the best grasp of politics. Wilmore wasn’t always a forceful moderator, often kowtowing to guests, even when they’re obviously babbling idiocy, like ignorant loudmouth Anthony Anderson ranting about a New Zealand basketball player’s use of the word “monkey,” oblivious to the cultural differences of the word.

But out of that messiness came its greatest strength, originality. As network late-night is more about a set-in-stone brand, Wilmore’s flexible formula gave him a chance to create his own vibe of a no-nonsense truth teller who was also highly personable and compassionate.

Wilmore was better than anyone (yes, including John Oliver whose jokey asides often feel intrusive and pale to his sharp journalistic analysis) at seamlessly blending sardonic quips in the midst of commenting on tragic stories.

Social media went wild for Jon Stewart’s somber, no joke take on the Charleston church shooting, but while Stewart and others threw their hands up in the air, Wilmore immediately contextualized the tragedy and making mincemeat out of the ever-tacky Fox News who wasted no time spinning the shooting as a war against Christians rather than the race issue that it clearly was.

When everybody else dodged with sending their “thoughts” to the Paris terror victims for days after the massacre, Wilmore again was a first comedy responder. He humorously reminded his audience about France’s role in forming America, as well as some of America’s stupid foreign policies under Bush, all in the spirit of a genuine sense of grief.

I’m just as sad for the core team of correspondents as I am for Wilmore, most of whom I suspect will struggle to find another gig for a while. I greatly respect Wilmore for sharing the spotlight with strong scene-stealing comedians, especially MVP Mike Yard. Out of all the staff, Yard is consistently the sharpest and most subversive voice on the program and has a special knack at starting with an unexpected angle and taking it to an even more surprising direction; his report on the plantation weddings highlights his ability at uncomfortable hilarity. Even in the panel discussions where most people mince their words to act as a mutual agreement society, Yard is one of the only ones willing to say the hard truths, even when they weren’t met with wild applause.

My second fave is Holly Walker who brought an invigorating audacity to her slightly unhinged characters, best of which was the “incognegro” truther. I even kind of warmed to people who really put me off at first like Franchesca Ramsey and Robin Thede.

What galls me most about this cancellation was how little time they gave the fans. I’m not asking for a year’s notice a la Oprah, but certainly Comedy Central could have given us more than a week to process the news, most businesses at least give two weeks’ notice. Even Wilmore was blindsided, causing him to rightly quip, “…keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”

While Nightly may not have had the viewership that Comedy Central wanted, they have made a huge mistake of ending the only show on its network to substantially skewer our thoroughly demented and fraught socio-political climate and call out the entertainment media for its lopsided coverage and extreme intellectual dishonesty. Meanwhile, the craziness continues and late-night remains the same old, same old.

Misc: The Greatest Presidential Show On Earth

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Many people think that politics should be kept out of entertainment. When the presidential candidates are more outrageous and intellectually dishonest than reality stars, they are totally in the entertainment domain. Since the traditional entertainment world is a snoozerama right now, I will turn my attention towards amateur punditry.

The obvious person to start with is Donald Trump, for whom 2015 is his Helen Mirren year, although his art of the douche is less honorable than her art of The Queen. As celebrities and public figures become increasingly scripted and appease-y to the bland (but increasingly absolutist) mainstream, Trump’s eagerness to go for the extreme jugular is a spectacle welcomed by many as the Gospel Truth. Even people who are repelled by his egomaniacal xenophobic conspiracy-theory rhetoric and hotheaded frat boy delivery can’t take their eyes off him.

Unlike 2008 when Trump had no tolerance for the derision hurled at him after his overly prolonged birther campaign aimed at Obama, he has developed a much thicker skin, taking his public troll number one reputation in great stride. He combats his adversaries with meaningless, but emphatic hyperbole of a New World movie villain emerging like an orangutan-haired hydra, stooping to a shocking new low every day.

Unlike earnest worry wart liberals, I do not think Trump’s monopoly of the airwaves or winning the Republican nomination would bring about Doomsday and not only because Doomsday is more plausible than his nomination. (I find the prospect of the President coming down to two dynasties- the Clintons and the Bushs- more disconcerting.)

Although Trump’s campaign has been resoundingly negative, he is really the only one (other than Bernie) who has inspired euphoria in people who were formerly apathetic or jaded towards politics, however misplaced and twisted it manifests itself. In spite of himself, Trump is the 2016 Obama for society’s outliers.

As somebody with a weakness for colorful eccentrics, I thank The Donald from the bottom of my heart for inspiring weirdos for coming out of the woodwork. I love co-founder of “Women for Trump,” Paula Johnson, an unassuming-looking Yankee woman with the voice and neurosis of Gladys Kravitz.

My absolute faves are the North Carolina Born-Again Republicans “Diamond” and “Silk” who “Stump for Trump” with Televangelistic zeal on their YouTube vlog The Viewers View. These ladies have the best comic timing and repartee since Craig Ferguson and Geoff. Like DT, they’re brash, unfiltered, hilarious, and shameless self-promoters. I haven’t seen this many women flock around one man since Charles Manson.

The only person close to Trump’s level of loony, off-the-wall rhetoric is Ben Carson, who proves that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a brain surgeon. Unlike a manic Trump, Carson registers on camera like he had an unfortunate dose of anesthesia that has resulted in an irrevocable side effect of narcolepsy (perhaps this is his relatability to the millions of overmedicated Americans). He does have his peculiar charms, namely comparing everything he doesn’t like to Nazism or slavery in the laconic, but sincere tone of a John Wayne character. Possibly the only person who lied about being Dexter when he was more like Dexter’s Laboratory, Carson, who has transformed into Howard Beale without probable cause, acts as if he might stab a “liberal bias” journalist.

Carly Fiorina’s American success story of an everywoman who rises from secretary to CEO is your typical pat biopic that leaves out the interesting details (namely her patrician diplomat family, her Stanford alumnus, and that she was a Stepford wife in Italy for a year).

Courtesy of news.yahoo.com

Courtesy of news.yahoo.com

Her Eliza Doolittle-like transformation on the campaign circuit is an astonishing feat. When she ran for governor in 2010, she looked like a frumpy, aloof NYU economics professor who couldn’t defend her appalling fire-happy HP record and subsequently lost to Barbara Boxer big time. In just a few years, she gussied up with a corporate Barbie MILF makeover, and spoke fluent Conservative Politicalese with the speed of a savant. With O. Henry irony, her presidential polish has resulted in apathy from many Republicans banking on a “maverick.”

Jeb Bush isn’t so much low energy as much as he’s a tightly controlled shill. In spite of his best efforts to be the vanilla inoffensive candidate for the Establishment, every time he responds to a tough question, stuff happens. He’s exactly like his bro, except he doesn’t do the trust fund baby dork dance as well and won’t tell a joke all the way through. If we’re destined to have an unbridled Republican asshole, gimme Trump.

Ted Cruz isn’t only a dead ringer for character actor Pat Buttram with his squinty doughy face and hammy Southern twang, he is the Mr. Haney of this race, which has been Hootervillized with an elitist makeover. Like Haney, Cruz comes off like a dumb country hick, but under his shtick he is a devious political operator and a real threat for the nomination. Just as scary as his ideology is his “dummy doll” laugh.

When the roster of candidates are like rejects from The Gong Show it makes sense that the GOP would stand by the next, next, next, next best thing, Marco Rubio. Because he doesn’t advocate for the slaughter of all the relatives of terrorists or claim that the Pyramids were grain storage sites for Joseph, many assume he’s the voice of reason. Perhaps the most mealy-mouthed of them all, Rubio has hinted at declaring war with China and has a Tetris style immigration plan that keeps undocumented people in limbo for years. No matter how much his camp tries to push the boy wonder image, most people are hip to the fact that he’s old goods in a new package.

For the past 20-odd years, Hillary Clinton has been a magnet for a collection of hysterical, often sinister conspiracy theories. She brings a lot of this on herself with her guarded WASPy secretiveness and her political incestuousness. Like a stubborn old dog, Mrs. Clinton pathologically does everything behind bolted doors. Her most profound moment was when she told Black Lives Matter activists that you have to change laws before you change hearts, but alas it was, you guessed it, behind closed doors.

She is more detestable than the average bear politician because of her extreme disingenuousness. She is as adept at personability as Hyacinth Bucket (“Bou-kay”) is at poshness, though unfortunately Hillary lacks Patricia Routledge’s genius comic timing. She does herself no favors with her belligerent attitude that it’s her manifest destiny to be the first woman president. The excruciating irony is how the DNC and older affluent Dems are berating the progressives’ “irresponsible” support of Bernie claiming that Hillary is the only realistic candidate. They seem to forget that she lost big time back in 2008 and everybody had to plead with the kicking and screaming woman with a “Mr. Gorbochav, tear down the wall” inevitability. Oh yeah, the first two words that spring to most people’s minds are “liar” and “unlikable.”

Common wisdom attributes Bernie Sanders’ surge in the polls to championing substantial structural changes from the 1% to help the 99%. But he also benefits from the Betty White effect, which makes elderly white people more lovable to the millennials on social media (even Martin Shkreli felt the Bern). With his mad scientist hairdo and gruff New York accent plus his record as a Senator consistently on the right side of history, Bernie has normal people and capable politician street cred.

Martin O’Malley is the political equivalent of actor Jay Harrington. Both men are handsome, intelligent, and personable. But both have been overshadowed by shiftier, less rational, more idiosyncratic co-stars, and their significant contributions to their “shows” are underrated. In my world, O’Malley would have a real shot for the nomination and Better Off Ted would still be on the air.

There are still a stupid amount of people running who haven’t got a shot in hell, because they didn’t take the wise strippers’ advice from Gypsy. Let this be a lesson to all prospective candidates, you gotta get a gimmick.

Holiday Shopping: A Few of My Favorite Things Pt. 2

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

Courtesy of www.estatevacationrentals.com

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

[Editors Note: This is the second part of a 2-part article. You can find Part 1 here]

So let’s talk apparel. If you’re shopping for someone that you know well enough and feel comfortable purchasing some clothing for them here are some of my favorite sites to choose from. Just one thing to note here many of these sites use junior sizing for their women’s clothing, which means the shirts are fitted and tend to run small. It might be best to order men’s/unisex if your lady friend has a heavier build. When in doubt, each site will have a size chart to serve as your guide.

Popuptee (http://popuptee.com/) –First up on our list is a tee shirt rotation site. How this works is you’ll notice a timer at the top of the site, when this timer runs out a new list of shirts will be featured. The average is about 4 days per group of shirts. They have more shirts available in the vault section of their site; these are ones that sold very well and are offered again at a higher price ($19.99 versus $12.99). Often times there will be a theme or two featured so if you don’t find what you’re looking for try again later. One thing to note, this one can take a while to ship since they don’t print the shirts until after the sale is over.

RiptApparel- (https://www.riptapparel.com/) –This site started as a 24-hour tee shirt rotation site, but has evolved into so much more. On the home page you will see a few shirts featured. These change every single day so if you see something, grab it because it could be gone tomorrow. Similar to the previous site, this one offers some of its best sellers in the store section but in addition to shirts you can also get hoodies, onesies, coasters, sketch books, prints and toys. Also this site features both toddler and youth sizes which is good if you’re looking for the little ones.

TeeFury- (https://www.teefury.com/) –The one that started it all for me, this store also started as a 24 hour shirt site but has also expanded its catalogue within the past year. You can order hoodies, ugly sweaters, leggings, shoes, and prints.

TeePublic- (https://www.teepublic.com/) –This site is awesome. All the designs are made for fans by fans. It also pays the artists one of the highest percentages of all these sites which is why I support them. Now all the designs are available as shirts but selected designs can also be printed to tank tops, long sleeve tees, baseball tees, kid sizes, crewnecks, hoodies, wall art, and phone cases. Unfortunately the  site has one glitch I found recently. The only way to find out if the design you like is available is to click on the shop, filter by what item you want and see if it lists your design. Basically the drop down menu has a bug which I’m hoping they can fix soon. Otherwise I’ve got to say I’ve order over $200 worth of gifts from them in the past and their customer service is excellent, I think my order arrived within a week as well so that’s always a good thing.

TeeTurtle- (http://www.teeturtle.com/) – I might be biased in saying this is my favorite of all the tee shirt shops because they are just so cute. This site uses a particular style and features chibi-fied versions of your favorite characters and anthropomorphized animals. They also have a sister site, http://lookcuter.com/ which features all original designs.

 

A couple things to keep in mind, since you are online shopping just pay attention to your shipping dates. Remember if you’re not seeing the person until after the holidays you don’t have to expedite and pay an additional charge to rush it in. Above all remember it’s the thought that counts. Here’s to you and your loved ones, we’ll see you all in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cream of the Crop and Bottom of the Barrel Pt 1: 10 Star Films

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

 [Editor’s Note: This is the First of a 2-Part Series]

Now I will admit I’m probably a more lenient critic than most because I know how much money goes into these movies. Even if a movie is god awful and terrible, if there was something in there that shows someone in the creative team cared enough about what they were doing, they’ll still get a rating. When I write the review I like to think of it as a film school critique-  by the way it’s so hard to make a student film. But often times when a film is flawed it’s somewhere in its execution so my job and responsibility as a critic is trying to understand what this film was trying to do.

For a film not to get a zero ranking it has to pretty much look like no one was trying. On the flip side it is very hard for me to give a 10 star rating because a movie has to be darn near flawless, which is not easy to do, making it special and deserving of such high praise.

Films that are so bad they are good do not count because they would not earn either rating. Keep in mind these are only from the films I have seen (like The Shawshank Redemption, I will see it one day I promise) so I am not trying to intentionally snub a film in hopes of being pretentious.

So here we go…  starting with my 10/10 stars. I’ll list these in chronological order. Sequels will be one listing in the event that multiple films in the same cinematic universe are eligible. And to preface a little bit of my general criteria, it breaks down into three main categories. On a technical aspect: framing, lighting, visuals, sound, and editing. Secondly, accessibility; is the story good, are the characters believable, is this something the casual movie goer and the film critic can both enjoy? The third basis is unique for each film; how the film relates to others within its genre, sometimes how it compares to the director’s other works, and anything else that could be counted as a standout factor.  These will be relatively spoiler free, just some basic plot information given in act 1.

Courtesy of www.silentera.com

Courtesy of www.silentera.com

Broken Blossoms (1919, Griffith)

Now I know, D.W. Griffith fans, you expect the film he’s more known for, The Birth of a Nation. Here’s my issue with that film and it’s not the one you’re thinking. It’s nearly three hours long, which I know is not comfortable for most people to sit through. Also people don’t tend to realize that it’s the story of the civil war told through the loser’s perspective and get caught up in thinking it’s just all racism. This is what I like about Broken Blossoms. Sorry America, we’re terrible… in most early cinema the Asian was cast as a drunken, lecherous idiot. This film presents him as a hero, though it is done with yellow face, the message in the film is clear and it’s an apology from Griffith and it asks the audience for tolerance.

Sherlock Jr. (1924, Keaton)

Full disclosure, I like Keaton more than Chaplin. This is not to say Chaplin’s films are not worthy of 10 stars, I’ve just only seen maybe one or two of his films versus many of Keaton’s. I also really enjoy Steamboat Bill Jr as a close second and at the risk of having a dozen Keaton film’s I’m just going to include this one. One of the most impressive facts about Keaton though is he did all his own stunts, and this was before the days of advanced special effects.

Sunrise (1927, Murnau)

How can you compare the silent era to today’s films? Truth be told, the fact that they could do so much without spoken dialogue is in itself incredible. The story is simple. A farmer is unfaithful to his wife, his mistress tries to convince him to kill her, he then finds he’s really not happy with anyone but her and they fall in love again. I’m completely oversimplifying this and not doing it justice. Just trust me, it’s a great film.

Metropolis (1927, Lang)

Meanwhile in Germany… one of the greatest works of science fiction ever made was born. A film so innovative for its time it nearly bankrupted Germany’s film industry, it’s fantastic. Unfortunately we may never see it in its entirety since pieces have gone missing. If there’s only one flaw it’s that the two predominate females present in the film represent the laziest archetypes of the virgin and the whore… but at the time that was often the way it was.

Courtesy of jeezjon.typepad.com

Courtesy of jeezjon.typepad.com

The Wizard of Oz (1939, Fleming)

There’s a reason they play this film numerous times on television and back in the days before DVD and VHS when this film was played on television it was an event. Yes the story is simple but the message is such a reflection of the times; there really is no place like home. I believe this film will continue to enchant for generations to come.

Citizen Kane (1941, Welles)

To be honest I’m more afraid of a mob of film students showing up outside my house with pitch forks if I omit this film. Yes, it’s a great film but I don’t know if I can call it “the best film ever made.” The camera work, the fact that they used cheesecloth to create a ceiling in a shot, and all the other behind the scenes technical aspects are brilliant. The two issues I have with the film are essentially irrelevant to its brilliance. One being if Kane died alone in his bed, how did anyone hear his last words? The second being I completely missed “Rosebud” the first time around and at the end was like “Wait, where was that in the film?” If I needed the metaphor explained I imagine others did as well.

Double Indemnity (1944, Wilder)

Film Noir is one of those genres that is starting to re-emerge slowly into mainstream story telling. It’s a basic formula that can be cliché at times but when executed correctly can be absolutely brilliant. Of the film noirs I’ve viewed this is by far my favorite. With stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck directed by Billy Wilder, it’s a formula for success. What younger audiences might not be as keen to pick up on is the introduction to Stanwyck’s character, Phyllis. Without dialogue, we know she’s a bad girl and she’s out to get what she wants no matter what it takes, all through the use of a towel and Venetian blinds.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, Capra)

We’ve all been at a dark point in our lives where we’ve pondered if the world would be better off without us. This film doesn’t shy away from answering that question and it’s beautifully wrapped up into a Christmas film. If you think about the juxtaposition, I don’t think you could have a more appropriate pairing considering the holidays are a time of depression for many. The message still holds up today because it’s another everyman type story- the world isn’t significantly different without him there, but the people who never met him don’t have the joy in their lives that he brought to it because he was never born. It shows us to appreciate what we have. Also it stars Jimmy Stewart who is possibly one of the best actors of all time.

Courtesy of drafthouse.com

Courtesy of drafthouse.com

Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Donen and Kelly)

I confess I have a soft spot for films about film. But this one is extra special because it presents cinema in a way that explains the transition into talkies in 103 minutes versus a semester of film history. The songs are good and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Gene Kelly perform. There’s also something just so very special about Technicolor.

Rear Window (1954, Hitchcock)

I might be in a minority thinking this is superior to Vertigo. The film has a limited set compared to many other Hitchcock films, with all the action happening in a confined space. In this way we’re almost forced into the wheelchair of Jimmy Stewart as he watches his neighbors day by day until he witnesses something out of the ordinary, a murder committed in a neighboring window. The staging is great, the suspense palpable, a film that really puts you into the shoes of its protagonist.

Some like it Hot (1959, Wilder)

I’m sorry, I haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard which is why it hasn’t shown up here. But you want a classic director look no further than Billy Wilder. This is quite possibly the best comedy that has ever been made. It has three of the greatest stars who ever lived headlining it. Also it deals with subject matter that you have to stop and think was kind of risqué for the time, especially that closing line, “well, nobody’s perfect.”

Psycho (1960, Hitchcock)

I will say most Hitchcock films can be ranked incredibly high on my personal favorite list. There are just so many reasons this film deserves the love, first upon release it was completely snubbed by critics. Oh yeah and this was after Hitch gave up almost everything to get the film made. The studios thought the idea was too vulgar, a toilet shown on camera! Heaven forbid. So it was up to him to work with what he had to get it produced, to the point he almost lost his house. Did I mention this completely redefined the slasher genre? And it’s one of the few films that gives you a heroine to follow and then kills her off, forcing you to identify with Norman Bates… yeah creepy.

Courtesy of www.imdb.com

Courtesy of www.imdb.com

The Graduate (1967, Nichols –no relation)

A film that even today’s audience might be able to relate to. A disillusioned college graduate finds himself drifting through life. Maybe less relatable in the storyline about being seduced by an older woman but finds himself torn when he falls in love with her daughter. If you turn this into a metaphor of wanting to stick to what is older and more familiar with embarrassing new changes in life it might make a little more sense. Mrs. Robinson might be one of the more complex and sympathetic females (yes I said sympathetic) to ever grace the screen.

The Godfather Parts 1 and 2 (1972-1974, Coppola)

So fun fact, I’m half Italian and a distant cousin of mine was up against Al Pacino for the role of Michael Corleone; but that’s not why this film is special to me. First off, what an ensemble cast and everyone brings their A-game. Visually it’s candy for the eyes with brilliant choices in framing and lighting. But even if you’re not a cinephile there’s a great story to go with it that can captivate you for six hours and fifteen minutes (let’s face it, you’re going to watch both in one sitting). At its root part one is about a father who leads a life of crime and his sons, one of whom has evaded the streets, even becoming a war hero. Then slowly he’s pulled into the world of crime and the hero turns into a monster. The scene where Michael says “I’m with you now,” and Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) has a single tear fall, is all the audience needs to know that this is the beginning of the end. Some argue part two tops its predecessor because Coppola was given more artistic freedom, personally I don’t think you can have the second without the first but at the same time part two embellishes part one which is why both are works of perfection.

Tune in next week for more of Heather’s 10 Star Films as well as her 0 Star Films.

Music: Interview with Singer-Songwriter E.M. Watson

On August 1st, 1981 MTV entered the airwaves. In its heyday, it opened the gates for enterprising pop musicians and innovative filmmakers who quickly transformed music videos into a new art form as well as a means to segue into bestselling concerts and other forms of filmmaking.

Although MTV has become a station for everything other than music videos, music video filmmaking is undergoing a revival from up-an-coming indie filmmakers and emerging artists, much in the same spirit of the pioneers of this mode of expression.

To honor this artistic resurgence, I will have a three-part series of interviews with the people who make music videos, one performer and two directors. Thanks to E.M. Watson, Michael Daye, and Jordan St. Martin Reyes for taking the time to correspond with me.

Courtesy of E.M. Watson

Courtesy of E.M. Watson

We begin with E.M. Watson, a Georgia based singer and songwriter, whose latest music video “Don’t Be Judgin’ Me” has won awards at local film festivals. You can check out his music with his band Playground Hero here as well as his own solo work here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

How did you become a part of Espeute Productions?

I was close friends with the founder, Daniel Espeut when he started the company in 2005. He and I worked on various film projects as a team until we eventually split off to pursue different endeavors. Daniel continued building the business while I pursued a career in fitness and martial arts. In 2009 I decided to change my career and pursue music full time and attain a Marketing Psychology degree. I built an in-home studio, enrolled in school and taught myself music production at night. Eventually I attained clients that needed my services including Espeuté Productions, where I found that I was the happiest when working on the Espeuté projects. In 2014 Daniel and I decided to join forces to build the Espeuté brand and it allowed me to utilize my marketing psychology degree as well as my musical gifts.

When people pitch video concepts to you, what qualities do you look for?

I consider myself a scenario based song writer. It’s the “moment” that inspires me to write a song. I expect that the music video concept will allow the viewer to feel and see the “moment” as I did when I was inspired to write the song. I strongly feel that a music video should be an enhancer and not a modifier. I see way too many music videos that alternate my perspective of a song because the lyrics and the video are on two different wavelengths. As an avid music lover, I want to be able to connect with the songwriter when I hear their song. I want to be able to relate my own personal experience with the songwriter’s experience and I feel that a good music video should do that.

What were your first impressions when Daniel Espeut presented you with the concept for “Don’t Be Judgin’ Me?”

At first I was a little hesitant because I wasn’t sure if it would work. He and I had never done a one take music video before and the amount of costume changes needed just seemed a little over the top. But he was very confident and I knew he was a talented individual so I trusted his vision. In a strange way I felt that he understood the underlying message of the song more than I did even though I had written it. Sometimes other people will connect more with your song and make you realize a deeper meaning for why you wrote it. I strongly believe that this was just one of those special cases.

Describe the pre-production processes of each of your music videos – Could be the One, Light Me Up, and Don’t Be Judgin Me. What were some of the major similarities between the three as well as the major differences?

For “Don’t Be Judgin’ Me” the pre-production was very long and tedious. Daniel Espeut and I spent a great deal of time getting permits, doing choreography, mapping out the location, putting together the proper team and much more. We wanted to make sure we nailed the concept because we only had 4 hours to do it and in the end there was no refund.

With “Could Be The One” and “Light Me Up” I took a stronger leadership role with the creation of the concepts. I worked a great deal with my brand manager, Daniel Goldberg on developing the concepts for the videos and we had many late night discussions on the style I was looking for. As I stated earlier, I am a scenario based songwriter and I crave simplicity and subtleties with my style of music videos. Though the concepts are different for all three music videos, you will find that they all take the viewer into one particular moment and allow them to see and feel what I am feeling.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of being a performer in the music videos? The biggest challenges?

When you perform in a music video you get the chance to give the viewer and full experience. You have to give more of yourself to the viewer in hopes that they will feel your message. Not only do you have to attempt to re-live certain experiences and portray that on film but you must dive deep into the minds of other performers and try and get them to do the same. It’s like you create a whole new world and you have to make sure everything in that world makes sense. As a performer on stage you are limited with how much you can give to the audience. Maybe with a large budget and countless rehearsals you can attempt to duplicate the effect of a music video but you only get that one chance to do it right.

E.M. Watson and Espeute Productions crew rehearsing "Don't Be Judgin' Me." Courtesy of Watson.

E.M. Watson and Espeute Productions crew rehearsing “Don’t Be Judgin’ Me.” Courtesy of Watson.

Would like to give a huge shout out to Justin Daniel, the manager of my band Playground Hero for all of the hard work he puts into our careers. I would also like to thank my band members Davon Watson, Ian Rowland and Wade Stephens for all that they do.