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Gimme Ya Lovin': Christina Xing's homage to Chaplin for Joe Thomas Carter's new music video

May. 22, 2019
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Adolescent Content: How did you get involved in this project? 

Christina: Joe Thomas Carter (the artist) and I had talked about making a visual for a long minute. He’s also one of my really good friends. One night we met up and he had made a little power point to tag a long with my first listening of the song. In the powerpoint, he told me he wasn’t sure how we would incorporate Charlie Chaplin, but he wanted a concept where he was Chaplin because of the little piano loop in the song. I was immediately invested and began to hit the drawing board with ideas.

Adolescent: You clearly reference Charlie Chaplin throughout the video. How did you come up with the idea for this homage to slapstick? Do you have a favorite Chaplin film?

Christina: At first he wanted to do a video where he was Chaplin and he got the guy, and the guy was super in to him. Immediately I told him that wasn’t very Chaplin like! Chaplin would get the girl eventually, but only after countless times of acting a complete fool. Like in real life.

We started talking about our own experiences being into people and laughing about being curved or acting like a complete fool to impress someone you’re in to. Joe and I are REALLY guilty of this and my own personal humor is also extremely slapstick so it was hilarious getting to write the little jokes with the roller skates and tumble weed. That’s where the concept was really born. 

I had spent most of high school watching all of Chaplin’s films so getting to really pull from that film history and knowledge was great! My favorite Chaplin film is City Lights

Adolescent: The choreography in the video is so fun! Was this your first time directing choreography for a project? What is that process like for you? 

Christina: Thank you so much! I did a musical film that came out last year called How The Moon Fell From The Sky and No One Even Noticed that used a lot of choreography to really further the plot of the film and the relationships of the characters, so this isn’t my first rodeo! 

Usually I’ll tell the choreographer what portion of the song I wanted covered with dancing and then I’ll explain the ‘intention’ of the dance with a bunch of references to other great works (I was really inspired by VOGUE by Madonna and Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake). Sometimes I’d do very poor movements that illustrate the FEELING of each move (I am the last thing from a dancer). Then throughout the weeks Dainique Jones (the choreographer) would send me samples of the choreo and she is just an absolute visionary. 

On the shoot day, the directing would be focused exclusively to the FEELING and the expressions of each of those moves with the music. 

Adolescent: You made a music video earlier this year for Claud for their song “Never Meant to Call” and it seems to deal with similar themes of love and friendship. Is this a topic that follows you in your work a lot? 

Christina: That’s a really great observation actually. That is a big topic in my work. There’s this Mizuta Masahide haiku quote I consider to be the thesis of all my work: “Barn’s burnt down. Now I can see the moon.” My work is just a million little thank you letters to people that have loved or hurt me or that I have loved or hurt. Through the heartbreak and pain of those experiences I was able to finally see the moon… Which was love, friendship and family.

Adolescent: This is your second official music video and last time you described the process of moving away from narrative directing challenging. Do you think that there are certain strengths and/or weaknesses that come out when you’re directing a music video versus your narrative work? 

Christina: This is such a good question! I’d say the strengths that come out when I work on music videos would be my understanding of story (most music videos I’ve done have been basically little short films), ability to get a performance/reactions working with non-actors and my ability to understand shot progressions and shot psychology. Those are all things I got to practice a lot in narratives.

I have so many weaknesses and things I’m learning day to day, we would be here all night. The big ones are: Pacing. In music video, what the hell are you gonna do with a 5 minute take of a character breaking down? Chop it all up in to seconds and key moments. It’s been really hard for me to remember that sometimes less is more. Second thing is working with no dialogue. There is that constant anxiety of “Will the story come through?” “Am I crazy or does this reveal enough to the viewers?” sometimes to the point where you dumb down the story way too much.  Lastly I would say coverage. In my narratives I’m very much a performance based director. So I usually do one takes or very simple shot progression, nothing fancy. When doing music videos, I have to kind of push past that comfort zone and think of a bunch of creative shots JUST IN CASE we may need them in the edit or we need some cushion for a set of lyrics.

Adolescent: Lastly, I love when they get sucked into the TV. If you could travel to a fictional world like that, would you also enter the Chaplin universe or would you go somewhere else? 

Christina: I already feel like my life is already like the Chaplin universe. Always acting a fool. 

I’d love to make a universe where all my friends from all over the world can hop in a portal and we can see each other instantly. Like a time machine combined with facetime… But in person. Something like that.