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Elizabeth's Orne's "Quiet" Video For MILCK Highlights Universality of Violence
December 4, 2017
Director Elizabeth Orne's just-released music video for MILCK singing her poignant song "Quiet" uses the power of composition to convey the loneliness often felt by survivors of bullying and sexual assault. Orne tapped into her extensive art history background to create a meticulously crafted music video juxtaposing the beauty of life with the grief, shame and isolation survivors experience.
"The song is an anthem for the moment we are in culturally. Its about not being able to stay quiet any longer," says Orne. "As a director, I wanted to show the contrast between the characters internal world and the positive effect of discovering a loving, accepting community. I composed frames for the video that are initially super controlled and restricting, but by the song's end, as the girls come together with the orchestra to sing and play music together, the frames open up to be loose, moving and free."
Orne shared some examples of how visuals in the video are used to evoke emotion. For the opening bully scene the director chose a dirt road that felt a bit "fairy tale-ish", with dark twisting branches and shadows circling the action. "I wanted to make the cruelest moments in the stories also some of the most visually beautiful, so that it would create a tension in the viewer where they both want to look and look away, all at the same time," she says.
Mid video, the director also changed the aspect ratio. "I wanted to capture how alone and isolated you can feel in your own struggle, so we started the video in a square format with well composed, still frames," says Orne. "It was a visual presentation of feeling ‘boxed in' and trapped by your life. Later, when the girls arrive at the Teen Center, we open up to full screen and start moving the camera to help accentuate how it feels to suddenly realize you are not alone, and that there is love all around you."
Orne also did some unusual casting. "I suggested to MILCK that we cast the bullies as children," she says. "Bullying of transgendered folks is very serious and often life threatening. The psychological consequences can last for years or even decades after the physical wounds have healed. Though not physically intimidating, kids have a way of cutting straight to the heart of the matter: they say the cruelest things. They have a preternatural ability to zero in on exactly what your subconscious is afraid of and give voice to that. In this case, they make her fear that she will never be accepted for who she is, which we see later in the video has greater implications in her family life. They also present a predicament, even though they are humiliating her by lifting her skirt up repeatedly, she she can't fight back because she knows they are just little kids. I love how the actress, Christine Mangum, played the tension of that dilemma.
In a second storyline, MILCK wanted to depict an abusive relationship. "Again I wanted to create a meticulously composed frame that was hard to look away from," she says. "The white walls accentuate how drained the character feels emotionally. And the art work is reflected in the tattoo design on his arm. The shot is intentionally off-balance."
All of his did not distract Orne from getting great performances out of the actors. "Both of the lead teens we cast gave beautiful, evocative performances that allowed us to tell a complex emotional story very efficiently," says Orne. "The look that Shadia gives Christine when she arrives at the Teen Center is so moving. For Christine, who is transgendered in real life, this was her first major acting role. "
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