JUNE 16, 2021
USA | 2 minutes | 2020
Directed by Nevin Millan
Featuring Nevin Millan, Anna Trebunskaya
SUNSET SESSIONS: Never Tear Us Apart (cover)
Acoustic cover song by Nevin Millan of “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS. Featuring Dancer Anna Trebunskaya. Collab music & dance video from our rooftop in Los Angeles during COVID-19 quarantine.
CineAsian Films (CAF): How did this cover and collaboration come about?
Nevin Millan: The dancer in the video is my wife, Anna Trebunskaya, who is an 11 season veteran pro dancer from Dancing with the Stars. In addition to acting, writing, and filmmaking, I am also a musician. Not long after the 2020 quarantine started, I began playing acoustic covers of songs and throwing them up on my Instagram and YouTube accounts for fun. A few months into it, we were getting antsy to do more creative projects, so we decided it might be a fun idea to do a collaboration together. One song I had just started learning was “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS…an 80s classic that I love. Out of the 4 or 5 songs we liked, she was most inspired and challenged by that one, so we selected it and I focused on learning it by heart in preparation for the shoot. It was also a logistical challenge with regards to shooting location and how to shoot it, which we had to get creative with and batted around a bunch of ideas until we settled on the concept of shooting on our rooftop.
CAF: Did you have enough time to prepare and rehearse for the choreography?
Millan: I learned the song over a few weeks while she put together ideas for the choreography. We also have 2 young children we are quarantined with, so not a lot of extra time to dedicate to these vanity projects, but we did the best we could. We shot it in the summer of 2020, so we knew we’d get a killer sunset and planned accordingly. The trick was to plan it all correctly so that we were rehearsed enough to shoot it in as few takes as possible. The day before, we did a run through on our roof to see how it would go and it seemed everything was pretty solid. So we decided we would shoot it the next day…and of course, as often happens, it got a little complicated.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while shooting this (and during the gorgeous sunset!)?
Millan: I wish we’d had a BTS crew shooting us attempting to shoot this because it would be hilarious. The evening of the shoot our kids were acting up a bit…they wanted to watch, but couldn’t keep quiet enough for us to get a take. Bribery with chocolate did the trick. You see, I didn’t pre-record the music and shoot to playback like most music videos are done – I was playing it LIVE on the roof right there – an extra complication that I’m not sure I would do again if there were this many moving parts! While we got incredibly lucky with the stunning visual of the sunset that evening, the temperature had gotten uncustomarily chilly for a summer night in LA and super windy. My fingers were freezing up, so playing the guitar was tough. Anna was shivering. The wind was creating issues with sound. And more than once, our tripods were blown over mid-take. It was a comedy of errors! We had a DSLR as the main camera angle and both our iPhones set up at two other angles. The audio was run through to the DSLR from a lav mic I had on… not the best set up, but it’s what we had laying around. In retrospect, I should’ve purchased a boom and had our 6 yr old daughter hold that up to give her something to do, haha.
One of the best moments, however, was that our takes ended up happening around 8PM when our whole neighborhood would erupt in applause for the health care workers’ shift change. And someone would let off fireworks every night around that time too. I had not been expecting that, but we serendipitously caught a firework in the background of one of the shots…completely unplanned and unintentional but it totally works for the video and the moment in the story of the song! When I was going through the footage I couldn’t believe it! The focus is off on that shot, but I was like, “We’re keeping it in there!”. We also had somewhat of an audience watching us from other rooftops, which was fun.
As a performer and filmmaker, I wanted to fix many imperfections in it…as artists often do. But given the circumstances and challenges of capturing something like this – a live collab rooftop performance shot on our own, whilst managing 2 children, all timed perfectly to a sunset in windy conditions in a couple of takes, during a quarantine due to a global pandemic…I gave myself some leeway and we’re happy about how it came out, all things considered.
CAF: How have you been staying creatively fulfilled during this challenging time?
Millan: I have been going through peaks and valleys, creatively. While I went through a couple of whirlwind phases last year where I was writing and creating like crazy – finished a stage play and a feature script, shot a short film – there were times when I was just too distracted. For example, the mayhem around the election, then the holidays, etc., just couldn’t seem to focus. One thing I’ve learned the past year is patience… to be patient with myself, the industry, the universe. This time has been challenging on everyone, especially children, so I put my focus on them a lot.
Last October I was lucky enough to act in a feature film called Vengeance Turns – a female-led western indie film. We went through all the Covid safety protocols and they shot it out in a few weeks. That was a fun gift after 7 months of quarantining. I’m about to get into another creative flow and finish up a few more writing projects I’ve been working on steadily. And my wife and I are looking to collab on a few more projects this coming year as well.
SUNSET SESSIONS: Never Tear Us Apart (cover) 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, Producer: Nevin Millan
Shot on iPhone X, iPhone 8, Canon DSLR
More from Nevin Millan: The Mutation, The Ferryman