Overwhelmed by loneliness, Mothica turns to an addictive quick fix to ease the pain - and accidentally unleashes her inner demon.
Though he grew up in Wyoming, Ian Rowe decided not to be a cowboy and instead is a film, commercial, and music video director based in San Francisco.
It was our pleasure to spoke to Ian about his recent project for LA Indies.
What was the inspiration behind the making of "Mothica-Blackout"?
With music videos, I see myself as a marketer of the artist’s song and their intention in writing it. So it’s a collaboration. Some artists I work with are purely visual and others are very story driven. Mothica is both. She is an independent musician and artist who has gathered an incredible following all on her own, so her point of view is paramount in captivating that audience. A large part of what makes Mothica special how open she is. She has consistently been candid, both in her music and on social media, about her struggles with mental health and alcohol, and thankfully her sobriety and growth as a person and artist. The song “Blackout” details the darker part in her journey before sobriety, when she’s sort of enjoying the free fall even though she knows it might lead to her demise.
She came to me with very specific ideas in mind. In the video, she wanted to grow a demon as a manifestation of her her own demons with addiction, she wanted the demon to be blue to tie it to her album “Blue Hour” and ensure it wouldn’t be confused with Satan proper, and lastly, she wanted him to carry her off into a body of water. From there, we talked more about how those things might appear throughout the video and I sat down to write out a narrative.
What were some of the challenges of working on this production?
I have to say, this music video was really lovely! Since Mothica was funding it herself, and since we produced it together, everything ran very smoothly. No middle-men involved.
The only real trouble we had was time. With independent budgets, you’re always building the track in front of the train in a sense. You have less time and less people on set so you’re always rushing. On top of that, making sure everyone was COVID safe, tested, masked, and distanced also took time and resources.
But, that said, still a very pleasant experience from concept to completion.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and what was the first project that you created?
I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming and there wasn’t a lot to do with your free time if you were a kid. I happened to make a friend who liked making music and movies as much as I did and that love and friendship continued into adulthood - Dillon Petrillo is the editor of “Blackout” and a frequent collaborator on my work since childhood.
It was only after directing and writing commercials for years that I decided to try to pursue personal work again. I started by funding a small, short film I wrote and directed called “The Boy” about a young man named Charlie who dances for his struggling friend to prove it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s very sweet and nostalgic and went on to show at a few festivals. From there, I wrote and directed my first music video “New Friends” for an artist named Maty Noyes where she murders and dismembers her terrible roommates and sews them together to make a better friend. So, very different vibe. But that video is coming up on 20 million plays now, so I think people like a little darkness, yeah?
Which directors have been influential in your work and why?
When I was in elementary school, I watched Psycho on VHS and it had a profound impact on me. The way Alfred Hitchcock composed shots like a puzzle being revealed piece by piece made me understand the importance and signature of a director.
Joe Dante has a way with approaching the mundane in an exciting way. A lot of his movies involve some disturbance in suburbia, my favorite being “The ‘Burbs”. That movie has everything, humor, horror, heart. It’s a great showcase of his talent with juggling genres.
Spike Jonze has a few of my favorite movies of all time under his belt. His worlds feel so tangible. I really love the way he pays attention to build that reality into even the silliest of ideas. He’s an adult with a child’s imagination.
I’m struggling to pick, there’s too many.
What genre of filmmaking do you like to work on?
I love genre storytelling! Comedy, horror, action, fantasy. I’ve had the privilege of working on projects that span genres. I think for me it’s more about the story and whether or not it’s fun an interesting. That said, I do think horror and I have a special relationship.
What is the most challenging aspect of making an independent film?
I think the most challenging aspect of making an independent film for me is also one of its strengths - lack of resources. With smaller budgets and smaller timelines, you really don’t have anything to lean on. This can be scary at first, but if you trust your collaborators to help you come up with solutions, the results are usually better than you would have accomplished just throwing money at the problem.
What is your plan for further distribution of your film?
Aside from being available on YouTube and Vimeo, “Blackout” has been submitted to a handful of music video festivals. Mothica and I just hope we can get in front of anyone who might appreciate the story.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
This is a heavy question! I think cinema has an enormous impact on society. It can be a mirror to your own story, or a window into someone else’s, it can be confrontational or teach empathy. It’s an enormous tool with endless emotional possibility. Unfortunately, cinema has suffered from a lack of diverse voices at the helm. From the bottom of the industry to the top. So, although its potential is great, and although it’s something that I truly love, it currently does not reflect the full, human story. I’m looking forward to the day when the scales are more balanced. Imagine how beautiful that will be.
What is your next project?
I have another music video with Maty Noyes that is wrapped and just waiting on release. I can’t say much about it, but it’s definitely a genre video as well! Other than that, I’m working on a few film and television ideas and am always looking for commercial work between.
Why do you make films and what draws you to the language of cinema and directing?
I was always sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. I love writing stories and drawing, composing music and acting. Later in life, directing was the one job I discovered where knowing a little about a lot of those things is actually what makes you a master. At least one day, I hope.