FEBRUARY 23, 2022
USA | 4 minutes | 2020
Music video directed by Bao Vo
“Perpetual Heartbreak” is an intimate story of a person decidedly basking in the glorious power of sadness, which then leads into a dramatic epic internal dialogue. It is told in a single-shot music video that follows the protagonist’s thoughts from a quiet morning moment to a vast landscape of mixed emotions.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What was the inspiration for the Perpetual Heartbreak music video?
Bao Vo: My concept for the Perpetual Heartbreak music video was to visually mimic the song’s feeling of transitioning from an intimate internal dialog to a vast external daydream. My biggest goal as the director was to make the viewer believe that it would be a normal interior tracking shot, then surprise them with the camera going out of the window and in the cacophony of the Downtown LA skyline. The main still frame from the video in which the protagonist sits on the window sill is a reference to a scene in the 1995 anime “Ghost in the Shell” where Major Kusanagi is silhouetted in her apartment window, the city’s busy morning activities reflecting around her solitary outline.
CAF: Shooting the video in one take is so ambitious. How did you plan the single-shot take?
Vo: This video could not be planned in much detail because of the single-shot nature and the limitation of the drone’s camera and movements. Before the shoot, I only had a basic outline of the mandatory “still images” that we needed to achieve within one continuous shot. We had to fly the drone around to actually get a better sense of how everything would look on camera. Then our cinematographer Sean Li and I treated the single-shot project as a choreography challenge, basically aligning these mandatory still images in time with the progression of the music. Sean cited his experience as a DJ and pianist as helpful in moving the drone in time with the music.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the production process outside of single-shot?
Vo: Our biggest challenge was a result of shooting the video in a single shot, and that was the significant changes in lighting conditions from interior to exterior. Usually with multi-shot films or films shot on standard cameras, you can adjust camera settings for each lighting scenario. We were limited by the technology available in the drone camera, which we couldn’t adjust while in flight. Fortunately we had a very talented professional colorist, Timm Shingler, work on the video to help with those lighting transitions. We had to do about ten takes, including one that ended with the drone having to land on a rooftop parking lot nearby because the battery died. In the take that we chose, a few happy accidents happened which we’re really happy about, such as the bird flying across the screen at just the right time.
CAF: Are you working on anything new?
Vo: Professionally, I’m a songwriter and music producer, not a filmmaker. I just love to dabble in all the arts. “Perpetual Heartbreak” is a song from my debut album with the same name. I’m currently working on my second full-length album and another single-shot music video for a song called “Complicated Feelings.” We’re hoping that the new album and music video will be ready for release mid-to-late 2022. I also have lots of new music that will be released throughout 2022 by several other artists as well as my band Ming & Ping.
Perpetual Heartbreak is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Director, Writer, Producer: Bao Vo
Cinematographer: Sean Li
Colorist: Timm Shingler