Singer/songwriter Korby Lenker has to be one of the hardest-working, most all-around creative guys in Nashville. In addition to releasing an album earlier this year, Lenker also just published his first book of short stories, Medium Hero, and is relaunching a live performance web series, Wigby. Still, when he needed a video for his “If I Prove False”, Lenker turned to another local renaissance man, Dawson Wells, who had previously helmed his “Forbidden Fruit” piece. The result is what can, perhaps, be best described as a live-action stop motion love story, even though that doesn’t completely capture it.
Of the concept, Wells explains, “The idea evolved from a brainstorming session with Korby and Blaque (our female lead) that began by playing ‘If I Prove False’ over Charlie Chaplin films. We found the song gave the comedy a kind of sweetness and romantic sincerity that was very endearing. … The finished product, though, is not necessarily the video we set out to make. What we were trying was fairly experimental for us and we had a lot of limitations in terms of what we could afford production-wise. Some things we tried didn’t work, but sometimes that failure can lead you down an even more creative path.”
Though Lenker had conceived of the plot for “Forbidden Fruit”, he took a back seat on this one and let Wells drive: “That was really all him. I had just come off a three-month tour and was out of ideas, inspiration, energy, and Dawson was up to try something, so I just let him roll with whatever he wanted to do. My only criteria was that we should include Blaque. Videos look better if they have pretty girls in them.”
The “comic book style” was something Wells had been contemplating for a while as a way to tie a storyline and a song together in a video. “In some cases, it can be difficult to put together a cohesive story line in a music video. It’s different than a short film because the song is perceived as the primary focus and the visuals are their to accentuate the themes of the song,” Wells offers. “When the song has a very linear story, adding a second storyline over the top can very quickly get confusing for the viewer. I thought the comic book style could be a fun way to narrate a new story and allow the video to take on a dual purpose. It can accentuate the song and be it’s own kind of Chaplin-esque silent film.”
As a filmmaker himself, Lenker understands the importance and power of the medium for musicians, although he admits that “There was a long time in my musical career that I didn’t like videos. I had decided they undercut the purity of the music.” He had a change of heart about eight years ago when he started hanging out with other musician/filmmaker types. Now, he admits, “as long as the video serves the feeling of the song, it’s doing its job.” But there’s something more to the process that is really what hooked him. “Working with people I like trumps everything else but my own vision, in terms of how I make creative decisions,” Lenker says. “Nothing is sacred, everything is relative, there are no rules. Make things you like and work with people you like and the rest be damned.”