Music video director, Ryan Foregger talks about his latest music video Make Them Laugh, the first single off the new Clare and the Reasons LP KR-51.
When Clare Maulduar Manchon of Clare and the Reasons sent me the track, Make Them Laugh, I knew instantly I’d be working with a great song. There is such an eerie, old-fashioned quality to the song that immediately set my imagination in motion. While I wanted to draw on the circus imagery in the song, I felt the video needed to really capture what the song meant to me. The lines, ‘This is what it takes… just to make them laugh’ resonated with me and that notion that ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’ got me thinking about life as a performance – the things that we do reluctantly to please others, whether we have a choice or not.
I wanted to create a world that could illustrate that in the simplest terms. If the video was about actual circus performers, or singers, or strippers or anything real-life, the beautiful sadness that Clare injected into the song would feel cheap and judgmental. I needed a world that was fantastical and self-contained – something that existed inside a box. That’s where the idea for a human whac-a-mole came from. There is such a nice anticipatory backstage build to the song, and a rhythmic payoff that fit perfectly with performers being smashed. It’s such an obvious, even violent rejection of a performance. Rejection is such a great fear for performers and everyone really. I wanted to make that aspect as literal as possible.
So the concept is that these performers are eternally trapped in the whac-a-mole. Anytime a quarter is put into the machine, the players take their places and are at the mercy of the ruthless stage manager and the mallet above. I imagined that this game was abandoned long ago and it sits outside a circus tent literally constructed from the ghosts of circus past.
Clare and I had ridiculously busy schedules and had only a few days available to pull it all together. I gathered together a great team on short notice. Art Director Akin Mckenzie and stylist Veronica Foregger translated the initial concept beautifully, and Émilie Richard-Froozan filled the cast with amazing people. The four of us pulled everything together in less than 24 hours. Hazuki Matsushita did a phenomenal job with hair and makeup, and Ben Mayer and I split cinematography duties between two sets shooting simultaneously.
The video was shot at Artistic Cube Studio in Manhattan. It was perfect location because its wide-open layout allowed for us to build a backstage set in one end of the studio while shooting all the green screen coverage on the cyc at the other end. Akin utilized the existing makeup tables and built the backstage set out from there. The biggest challenge was creating the harnesses, but luckily we benefitted from the kindness a few dominatrices and some odds and ends from Home Depot.
I took on post-production myself despite traveling most of the time. Cutting in Poland, compositing in Germany, and tweaking in Italy presented a challenge, but ultimately a working holiday was worth it. The video came out exactly as I’d envisioned it and that’s always the ultimate reward. To turn your imagination into something tangible – there is no better feeling.
Clare and The Reasons
See more of Ryan Foregger’s work