Creating a memorable music video is much like growing an unusual moustache. It takes patience and nerve. … But if he or she stays the course, remaining true to their vision, they will doubtless create something unique. While the finished ‘moustache’ may not be to everybody’s taste it will stand out. It will entertain. It will provoke.
– from Colonel Blimp, a music video production company
On an editing job once, I sat down with the director of the project as he read off a list of notes for the next cut. Most were things we had discussed previously, some were additions of his own, and still others had come from the client. He breezed through the list mostly, but indulged his hand-scribbled notes a frown and change of tone as he searched the page for a silvery way to say what he must. He could not find one apparently, and stammered the last note to me almost as a question. “They say it should be more… stately.”
“Yeah, they kept saying it. Stately.”
And sure enough, there he was, in quotes, hand-written, and dressed in black ink on the page. Stately.
In many edit suites conversation tends to huddle around one word or theme. In advertising that word is almost always funny. “Is it funny,” the creatives will ask. “Is it funny,” the agency producer. “That’s really funny,” the account person will assent nervously, the rest of the account team nodding assuredly. “Not funny enough, can we tweak it a bit?” That was the Creative Director, almost always armed with some foreign accent that can’t help but sound authoritative.
Editing a film, the word might be true, “is it true?” Or breathe, “does it breathe?” Again and again. Tweaking, watching, asking.
On the streets we hold another set of presentational responsibilities. We must, most of us anyway, wear clothes and groom ourselves. We wear clothes firstly so that we don’t freeze to death, secondly, probably, so that people on the subway won’t laugh at us for not wearing them, and thirdly there is often something we are trying to say with them. I’m not the type to go listening to my closet in the morning, but I don’t doubt that there are a few shirts that scream “Pick me! Pick me!” each morning. Alas. I prefer the ones that play hard-to-get.
On the topic of personal grooming, my friend Michael has spent the past couple of months wading the unspeakably treacherous and always divisive waters of the mustachioed. It was his lip, it seems, and not his closet that began speaking to him one morning. Shutting it up was not so easy as simply ignoring it – he needed it to talk after all. He decided instead to cultivate its unique voice. (And just so we’re all on the same page here, the voice I’m talking about is the unwavering one his upper lip must have raised in order to convince him to grow hair upon it, not his speaking voice, which is cool too, if a bit loud sometimes) That voice became a mustache.
I happen to be a fan, I submit. But the question I pose to you, dear reader, is a matter of great import, and I ask that you raise your voice in response:
Is it stately?