New York director Vincent Skeltis has invoked the spirit of the “Nasty Girl” in this remake of Vanity 6′s 1982 original. From impeccable 80s dance moves, to actress Jocelyn Saldana’s cherry red lips and leather jacket, the video embraces the 80s. Even in the context of modern Brooklyn, opening to the sounds of The Weeknd, the translation transcends eras, leaving you with the distinct impression that Skeltis’ video would be at home among contemporary videos, or nestled comfortably in MTV past. We spoke to Skeltis about remaking the video and his creative process…
Portable: What inspired you to do a remake video?
Vincent Skeltis: Jocelyn [Saldana], the girl dancing in the video, played the song for me and then showed me the original video. The last Self-Portrait film I made (THURS 1:15pm), dare I say, was a musical narrative which I had a great time making, and thought it would be fun to try and approach the music video format using similar techniques.
P: What was it in particular about “Nasty Girl” that you were drawn to?
Vincent Skeltis: The original video is fucking awful, and wonderfully so. I would recommend watching it. One of the back-up dancers, the blond woman (dancer on the right), reappears after an outfit change wearing a dagger on her waist… she looks like a forty-year old bar fly you’d see somewhere in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, meanwhile she’s dancing behind this stunning woman (Denise Matthews)–a woman so obviously high on something she almost seems faking it. So much about the1982 video blows my mind.
I have to credit Jocelyn for bringing it to my attention–it had been years since I heard the song or seen the original music video. She and I had been talking about working together for a while. I initially intended to shoot a speaking piece with her, something dark and seedy, shot cleanly on white–a visual departure from the films I have been making. I wrote some dialogue for her to perform, and floated a few other ideas, none of which I loved, before approaching her with anything. After Jocelyn showed me Vanity’s original video, I shelved my other ideas and suggested we remake “Nasty Girl.”
P: How did you go about translating this to modern Brooklyn? What were the biggest challenges?
Vincent Skeltis: There really weren’t any challenges. The gear and the space [we shot in] are mine. Working alone, it took a full day to shoot.
P: Why did you open with the Weeknd playing?
Vincent Skeltis: That decision was actually made while I was building the storyboards [days after the shoot]. I was reviewing footage and began grabbing stills to build my editor a rough visual direction (I find this easier than using timecode). The story I originally shot was a “teen-girl gets high and fantasizes a dance sequence”, and that would have worked fine using only one track, but looking at it on the boards felt weak. I happened to be listening to the House of Balloons album by The Weeknd while I was pulling stills for the boards. ”Wicked Games” just felt right.
P: You didn’t have a crew when you produced this. Why? What were the advantages and drawbacks?
Vincent Skeltis: To be clear, I didn’t have a crew while shooting this, but did work with some other very talented people on the post side of things. We wanted to loosely “remake” the original video, which, judging by the look of it, and considering the period of time in which it was shot (1982) probably only cost $1,500 to make.
One of the advantages of working alone on a project like this is that I can light everything and operate both cameras by myself, and come out expense-free so long as I don’t mind working a little harder than if I had hired a Producer, Grip, Gaffer, Operator and a DP. Why complicate things if unnecessary? The piece didn’t call for fancy gear or technical rigging of any kind… I wouldn’t say there are any drawbacks to this process.
Before I started working with film and video I was doing still photography; if the project or job called for a large crew or production we would bring in the necessary people depending on what the job called for. The same applies to my film process. We’re about to begin shooting a short-film with mulitple locations and a bunch of actors and extras. I have no plans to shoot that by myself.
The post-production for something like this is another story. I can shoot these particular types of pieces myself, so long as the concept doesn’t call for heavy production, but in order to achieve the edit and look I was after, Colin Patton (Editor) and everyone (Sal Malfitano, Lily Tilton and Rosalind Paradis) at The Mill came through big.
P: People have been remaking movies for a while now – do you think there’s a market for music video remakes?
Vincent Skeltis: Yeah, I do think there’s a market to remake music videos. Well, maybe not a market, but definitely an audience… Haven’t you watched a music video thought to yourself, “What if they did __________ instead of _________?”
I know I have. With so much amazing music available and being made at such a fast clip, multiple interpretations of the same track could be fun for music and art collectors, if not also necessary.
Sadly, record labels could never legitimatize a need to see this happen… But, with the advent of digital tech, we can realistically revisit older songs and reimagine the visual representation of music we at one time loved or grew up with. It’s possible. In fact, it’s kinda happening already; it’s actually been happening. They’re called Commercials.