Some great videos are the result of meticulous planning and coordination between the artist and the director. Others owe their existence to serendipity and are none the worse for it. The soulful, Los Angeles based group Terry Light didn’t hire independent filmmaker Kailee McGee to shoot a clip for “Lately,” their debut single – and that’s because they didn’t have to. She fell in love with the music (you will, too), and gave it a home in her film The Person I Am When No One Is Looking. In so doing, she’s deepened the meaning of Light’s song, highlighted its intensity, and foregrounded its indisputable cinematic qualities. No director could have done any more – or any better.
As an acknowledgment of this accidental masterstroke, Light is releasing the last four minutes of The Person I Am When No One Is Looking – the part of the film that’s scored by the song – and calling that a finished video. While it’s apparent that it’s part of a bigger story, you won’t see a clip in 2019 that looks sharper, or feels any more emotionally forthright or relevant to the moment, or suits the music any better than this one. McGee’s passion for the song is unmistakable, and the dance she performs on the streets of Los Angeles demonstrates a deep understanding of the music that goes well beyond words.
We don’t want to oversell the unlikeliness of this partnership. Light and McGee are friends, as is Mark Hadley, who scored The Person I Am When No One Is Looking and produced “Lately.” These artists are all part of the same circle of creative thinkers in Los Angeles, and they’re motivated by similar aesthetic impulses: they’re kicking back at modern alienation, examining the world we’ve created with modern technology, and attempting to forge human connections in a difficult environment for collective action.
That desire is at the heart of The Person I Am When No One Is Looking, which is part of the award-winning Omeleto series of short films. The film – and by extension, the video portion for “Lately” – presents Highland Park in Los Angeles as a gorgeous but slightly surreal landscape, populated by beautiful people driven by an unquenchable desire for attention and obsession with follower count. McGee’s character is both a victim and a perpetrator, and aggression and vulnerability are both visible in her astonishing street choreography. The result is a dance video that doubles as a powerful narrative, and a teaser for two dynamic works of art: both McGee’s film and Terry Light’s eclectic, heartfelt series of songs.