Marc Webb Music Video, Short film and Major Movie Director
Marc Webb was born in Indiana, later moving to and attending the University of Wisconsin where he graduated with an English degree. These creative skills were later transferred to directing small and major music videos for a range of artists across different genres. After years of music videos, Web released his first major motion picture, 500 Days of Summer in 2009 and has now been selected to direct the new Spiderman film in 2012.
Webb first directed a major music video in 1997 with Blues Traveler for their song, Canadian Rose. When comparing the video with ones he’s directed 13 years later you are exposed to the changes and developments he has made, although this can quite simply be put down to technology improvements and the style and genre of the band. However, there is a clear link between the videos Webb has produced and the way he has made them so appealing to the audience and the band. The features and effects he uses are also quite common throughout his work and the videos he has directed. There is a clear link between the artists Webb works with too, many of them working with him more than once which creates a link between their own videos. For example, Webb has directed four of Green Day’s videos (Waiting ’01, 21 Guns ’09, 21 st Century Breakdown ’09 and Last of the American Girls ’10), five My Chemical Romance videos (I’m Not Okay ’04, Helena ’04, The Ghost of You ’05, I Don’t Love You ’07 and Teenagers ’07) and many more. It even seems apparent that when he has worked with a certain artist, its unlikely they do not work with him again which shows his pure skill and effort in his work.
Although many of the videos Webb has directed are based around the rock and alternative genre, there are some exceptions to this such as The Pussycat Dolls, Nelly and Regina Spektor. Because of Webb’s ability to vary in genre and style (in terms of video and the actual music) we are able to see that he is open minded and willing to take on anything, with a range of different ideas and factors in mind. All of these factors contribute to the success of the director himself and shows his progress and recognition throughout the years, seeing as he his now directing big blockbuster movies which project true creativity and complete skill in the area he is working, and will be working in the future.
Marc Webb: Chocolate by Snow Patrol
Although underrated and under-recognised, the video for Chocolate by Snow Patrol was directed by Marc Webb and continues to be one of my favourites. The main theme of this video is that the world is soon coming to an end, in which it shows people running riot, panicking and cherishing their last moments alive and on earth, however, throughout these scenes the band act calm, just performing in their own space and expressing their lyrics. The whole scenario of this video is based around an hour glass which is determining everyone's last moments and the reoccurring line sang “I promise I’ll do anything you ask, this time.” tells us that when simply heard it means the singer or writer is looking for forgiveness in a friend or partner, however when listened to with the video we realise he won’t be able to be forgiven and then given another chance, there will not be another “...this time”. So Webb has simply added another meaning to this song already, just by the theme of the video.
White, plain backgrounds
Simple yet retro details
Motif of time
Scenes of panic (newspapers, running, disaster etc.)
Singer as centre of attention
Similar /common buildings
The base of the track adds to the fast pace movement
Guitar beginning also matches the clock movement
Music cut out when the hourglass finishes
A range of camera shots are used including establishing, long, close ups etc.
Focus in and out on events
Steady hand use- to create a panicking effect
Lighting and editing
Clear and light scenes showing modernity
Neutral colours, no warmth or comfort
Quick shots and transfers, again to show panic
Little/few effects=more realistic
Marc Webb: Move along by All American Rejects
All American Rejects are known for their “I don’t care” attitude throughout their music and videos for their songs, Webb shows this beautifully in the video for Move Along which consists of the main vocalist singing during a variety of situations and problems that have occurred during his life. The movement between shots of him singing are so clear and smooth that the audience almost come to believe each shot isn’t a different piece of filming. In addition, there is a clear link between the lyrics that are singing and the actions shown in the video (for example, “hands are shaking cold, these hands are meant to hold” which at the time shows hand movements or related scenes.) which creates a meaning of the song and the video. A contrast is also created with the emotions shown by the lead singer, when he appears to be said (during the majority of the song) a dull and angry atmosphere is given to the scene. Webb also makes a contrast in the climax of the song and video where the lead singer basically gives up (according to the lyrics) and jumps into and empty swimming pool, however while he’s falling hands appear to catch and support him. This shows the Webb, although considering the bands style, added one of his own ideas to create a deeper meaning.
The lead singer is the main feature of this video and is centred in most scenes
Movement in background of these scenes, but he is still
Drum beat matches the shot changes and actual drumming filmed
Lyrics match certain scenes and images throughout the video
Stop-motion style camera changes
Camera shots vary from extreme close-ups to birds eye view
Head on images
Lighting and editing
Most scenes at sunset to show tiredness
Quick changes between shots
Slow motion when the glass is being smashed
Marc Webb: Better by Regina Spektor
Marc Webb has directed a couple of Regina Spektor’s videos, however I chose to analysis Better because I think it shows a different side to Webb’s ideas. The video consists of Regina Spektor singing in a field while replicas of her sing, dance and move around with her. Although it’s supposed to be cute and fun (which it is), there are also some elements of creepiness because of the odd situation without any explanation. All of these women have doll like features and do not appear to be friendly in anywhere. This video does seem completely different to some of the others Webb has directed but I think theirs a perfect balance between the artist and director and you are able to see Regina Spektor had an input in creating this look.
Landscape and establishing shots are used to create a sense of tranquillity and space
Close up on Regina’s face are used to show she is the real artist- and to link with her other videos
The lighting is beautiful in this video, it matches the genre of music and theme of the song
Sunset representing love and emotions
However, dark skies add to that odd and haunting feel
The chorus and repetition of the title “Better” is exaggerated by the video
Especially when the open the umbrellas to the sound of Better
The piano being played matches footsteps
The scenery of this video adds to the romantic feel to the song
Nature becomes a big part of this video
The use of ‘replicated girls’ creates mixed feelings for the audience
Marc Webb: I Don’t Love You by My Chemical Romance
My Chemical Romance, after great success of their early music and dark emo-styled videos, went to director Marc Webb in 2007 rather than Sam Bayer who directed “Welcome To The Black parade” and “Famous Last Words” for something more heartfelt, artistic and completely different to their previous image, despite Webb directing I’m Not Okay, Helena, The Ghost of You and Teenagers. I Don’t Love You is a typical love song/story but didn’t excel in the charts like their other songs did. However, the video makes it a better song that it was reviewed as. The video consists of a black and white (literally and metaphorically) view of a couple who quickly fall in and out of love with each other while the band play separately in a dark shed-like room. What makes this video so unique is the dramatic appearances of these characters and how their painted and exaggerated to show it isn't real life and love doesn't work like that, which is revealed when the amp and two guitars explode along with Gerard Way’s voice and the ‘picture perfect girl’ is splattered with black tears.
A still camera is used throughout to create a story like effect
And also to dramatise the explosions
Lighting and Editing
Black and white is used throughout again to show purity and anger
Also to contrast the idea of simplicity- because it isn’t
Picture perfect scenes
Everything is ruined at the end
Slow motion- slow pace
Complete contrast in how loud the sound is
Pace of the video matches the tempo and amplification of the music
Marc Webb: Why Do You Let Me Stay Here by She and Him
She and Him originally made a video for Why Do You Let Me Stay Here which was part filming, part animation. However, when Webb produced the film 500 Days of Summer which featured Zooey Deschanel (main vocalist of She and Him) as the lead role, he later re-made a video for this song involving Deschanel and her co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This video consists of Gordon-Levitt walking into a bank and demanding money from Deschanel, she removes his glasses and they begin to dance throughout the whole video, at the end she puts his glasses back on and he walks out with the money. Some of Webb’s typicals are featured such as the vintage/retro style and spacious settings. The video also ties in with his actual film, 500 Days of Summer in the fact that its filmed in the same locations, involving the same people and the same style is used throughout. And there’s a contrast between the happy dancing and innocent gestures with the dark lighting and actual crime he’s committing.
Dark, yet empty spaces
Old fashioned bank
No sense of time or year
Retro/old fashioned details
Lighting and editing
Dark- adds to dark tone
Although contrasts with their dancing and happy faces
Few editing but some involved in their dancing
Sound connects with the actions and videos
Such as the piano playing as she ‘plays’ it on his nose
Establishing shot to tell us the setting
Close up on gun and money
Camera from below/above to show height
Marc Webb: Bad Day by Daniel Powter
Bad Day was Daniel Powter’s first successful single which was widely viewed for both the song and the video. Webb filmed the video in Los Angles and created the storyline of two single people going through their everyday schedule and only connected by their similar events and a graffiti drawing which they both separately add to. A large part of this video is shown as a split screen which gives us an impression of the two people being connected in such a way, Powter is shown throughout in the same type of areas as the characters, however he isn't part of the story, he is just singing along. Although the song is about someone having a bad day, the video demonstrates how the two characters needing each other because of their similarities in both actions and needs. The fact that Webb has created a story out of this song makes its so much more meaningful and interesting to watch. The characters are yet again cleverly connected by the drawings which are shown in a split screen and the poster they both graffiti over in turn on the subway. Contrast is a big factor of this video, however pathetic fallacy is used in reverse as happiness is shown when the weather and atmosphere is bad, and sadness and loneliness is present in the sunny scenes.
Images and places we as an audience can relate to makes it easier for us to watch
Everyday/ordinary people makes a good change to those usually in the media
The artist is shown out of the story to make it clearer for us
Repeats of the same movements from characters makes it easier for us to tell it’s taken place over numerous days
Range of shots to separate purposes and emotions
Powter is shown playing the piano throughout so the video does intertwine with the song
Actions match the track; such as turning the alarm clock off
Lighting and Editing
Split screen is used a lot in this video to show the contrast and similarities of the two characters
Short shots of filming to keep up with the beat and flow of song
Themes and Motifs
After looking at only a few of Marc Webb’s many music videos we are able to recognise some of his key themes and motifs throughout. Although genres, bands and attitudes vary with these videos, we are able to see Webb’s symbolism and unique design in them all. Here are just a few that are easily noticeable.
Big open spaces are used a lot throughout Webb’s music videos, which creates an airiness and artistic feel to each video, making them more pleasant to watch Tables are also featured in many of Marc Webb’s videos, they are usually used to portray loneliness in songs about love. Dramatic contrasts is a feature Webb uses to make his videos more visually interesting and inspiring to the audience, this is portrayed on many different scales throughout his videos.
Themes and Motifs Continued... The use of retro and classic objects is definitely a part of Marc Webb’s signature style in terms of him music videos, along with artistic details. This adds respect and a degree of seriousness to the artists songs and videos, and because special effects aren’t used to the maximum all the videos are quite realistic and easy to watch. Marc Webb is also a big user of split screen which makes him stand out as a director as it isn’t hugely common in music videos. His biggest use is in Sparta’s video for Breaking the Broken.