Lacombe filmmaker, band win grant to produce music video

Local filmmaker Cassandra Paige Johnston will produce a music video for HAAZE's "AL" thanks to a STORYHIVE grant. Facebook

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The vision of a local filmmaker, paired with a local metal trio’s musical exploration into human vs. technology debate has earned a few creators $10,000 to produce a music video.

Cassandra Paige Johnston is teaming up with HAAZE – Alex Adamson, Mitchell Soloway and Jack Sutherland – to add some visual storytelling to their latest single, “Al,” thanks to STORYHIVE’s music edition grant program.

The project was one of 40 voted by the public to receive funding from over 221 entries across Alberta and B.C. Fresh off a STORYHIVE grant win to produce the short film “Ugly Girl” earlier this year, Johnston said she was a little shocked to have another project funded so soon.

“I was pretty surprised because we’d just won a grant. It’s really exciting,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful to the people who continue to vote and support both me as an independent filmmaker, and HAAZE as an independent band. They’re trying to make it, too, so it’s exciting to have so many people backing us.”

Johnston says she first got involved with the band simply by being friends with one of them, and routinely attends their shows. Growing up watching music videos after school with her sister, she said creating music videos has always been something she wanted to get into, and pitched the idea to the band.

Given HAAZE steers clear of the more country and folk-esque genres of music typically heard in the area, and has a more edgy, sludge and doom metal sound, they weren’t sure at first of how well the music would translate into a video, but it’s a challenge Johnston is ready to take on.

It helps it isn’t her first foray into making a music video, nor her first with the band.

“I made a little music video for HAAZE before for their song “Stereotypically doomed,” but we did it literally in my apartment. It was just the guys in it and we used a bunch of cool editing techniques and lightning techniques.

“I’m super excited to do an actual grant-funded music video.”

The difference between creating a short film and music video, she says, lies primarily in not having to worry about recording sound for the film. The other lies in having to work with the band and make sure their visions align and work with the music, all the while being able to tell a story without relying on dialogue.

Fortunately, the song – written from the perspective of Al the robot – revolves around the rise of technology, and one doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration.

“It’s about a woman who seeks revenge on the man who think he owns her. She’s a robot – it’s a futuristic, robots vs. humans, humans vs. nature and all those things that are super relevant right now,” she said. “We’re still working on a solid story, but I want it to be really exciting and unique.”

Given grant recipients from Alberta must shoot at least 75 per cent of their film within the province, as per STORYHIVE requirements, the plan is to shoot the music video in central Alberta.

“We’re hopefully going to get some local resources again and keep it small town,” Johnston said. “I find smaller town businesses and locations are usually more welcoming – and it’s easier access to locations. I know a lot of people in the area because I grew up here.”

They have until April 2019 to complete the project, and then it will be officially released in the summer on both and TELUS Optik TV On Demand.

Johnston’s previous project, Ugly Girl, is now complete and available to watch through the STORYHIVE website, as well as via YouTube and Facebook. Johnston says the plan is to send it to a few film festivals still accepting applications and see how it does.

STORYHIVE music video grants have also been received by musician Justine Vandergrift this year for the production of a video for her song “Hold your head high.”