Indie Shorts: “Nick Miti: Illusions” (2016) by Bradley Grenon
Loud Green Bird doesn’t review music videos,* so today’s post is the exception that proves the rule. We made an exception to policy in the case of “Nick Miti: Illusions” (2016), which was made by indie filmmakers whose work the Bird knows. While it is an official Nick Miti music video, it is also a short indie film. It boasts a developed storyline, good acting, and theatrical-quality direction, cinematography, sound, and editing. Miti’s track supports the film’s story, rather than taking center stage as its overt subject. The result is a short that’s much more artistic than the average music video.
By their nature, music videos feature artists as musical performers and focus on visualizing their songs. Although many include a rudimentary storyline, it is often no more than a literalistic dramatization of the song’s lyrics. Production design and cinematography can be creative, but many sets and shots end up falling into one of the standard types expected by viewers. Although there are notable exceptions, music industry commercialism tends to trump cinematic art. After all, music videos are not just entertainment; they’re also music industry promotional and marketing tools that are designed to sell product.
By contrast, “Nick Miti: Illusions” presents its musical artist as an actor. Nick Miti appears in the role of a major character in a screenplay, not as a real-life musician performing his work for the camera. His character is part of a storyline that is much more developed than that found in a typical music video. Miti’s latest musical release, “Illusions,” serves as the centerpiece of the film’s musical score, rather than as its one and only subject.
Written and directed by Bradley Grenon, the short comes alive on the screen under its own power. Miti’s “Illusions” meshes well with the action, enhancing the desperate plight of Chip (J. P. Valenti), a gambling addict who’s chasing an elusive dream of the big score. Miti is convincing in the role of a grimly practical hit man (with a musical side-career) who’s sent to exact vengeance on behalf of Chip’s dealer, Jona (Jonthan Tavares). As a result, Miti comes off as a mysterious and intriguing figure: somebody who’s dangerous, but also talented enough that you want to get to know him better.
If Grenon had taken the heavy-handed directorial approach often seen in music videos, this could have been just another average music video. Working with DP/editor Chris Esper, he presents Miti and his work (as an actor and as a musician) in a cinematically artistic way that’s devoid of commercialism. The gritty shots mix street realism with touches of surrealism, mirroring the conflict between reality and illusion that’s the theme of Miti’s track. Skillful editing begins the story in the midst of its action, then flashes back to explain what happened before flashing forward to present the karmic aftermath of a bad decision.
Check it out on Nick Miti’s YouTube channel:
Disclosure: Loud Green Bird provided this free, “fair and honest” review of “Nick Miti: Illusions” at the request of its writer-director, Bradley Grenon. There were no financial considerations, so don’t be sending a hit man after the Bird.
*Loud Green Bird does not have a writer with the practical experience and critical expertise to weigh in with credibility on a musician’s talent and work. The Bird also does not have enough time to review the plethora of music videos produced by indie filmmakers nowadays.