In her first animated music video, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings take on a pack of rampaging, cat-calling wolves in the ultimate battle of dance. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!

To honor the amazing opportunity of working with Sharon Jones, director Lizzi Akana and the Slanted Studios team created a psychedelic mythology worthy of the Dap-Queen herself. To date the music video has garnered over 250,000 views on YouTube and Vimeo.

Honors
Winner: “Best Music Video” 45th ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival
Official Selection: Vimeo Staff Pick
Official Selection: 2014 Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film
Official Selection: Anima Mundi 2014
Official Selection: Animation Block Party 2014
Official Selection: 17th Brooklyn Film Festival
Official Selection: Oulu Music Video Festival (Finland)
Official Selection: Animation Torrent
Official Selection: 23rd Arizona International Film Festival
Official Selection: 2014 Palm Beach International Film Festival
Official Selection: 2014 Byron Bay International Film Festival

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Label: Daptone Records

Production Company: Slanted Studios
Executive Producer: Michelle Higa Fox

Director: Lizzi Akana
Art Director: Erin Kilkenny
Technical Director: Michelle Higa Fox
Additional Design: Josh Goodrich
Animation: Josh Goodrich, Shixie Shi, Tim Beckhardt, David Hobizal, Leah Shore, Gabriel Pulecio, Nika Offenbac
Watercolor Animation: Leeanne Brennan
FX Animation: Matt Timms
Special Thanks: Futurestack, Merlin, Olive, and the Fig Tree

October 2013

Stills

Director Statement

This is a very special project to me for many reasons. I’ve been a Sharon Jones fan for years, so when Daptone approached me to produce a video for her I leapt at the opportunity. Thematically, the song retreat is a powerful anthem for Sharon as an artist and performer, especially in the wake of her cancer diagnosis. Knowing that Sharon was experiencing adversity in her personal life, it was extremely important for me to portray her in the video as an indomitable force of nature. The tone of the song naturally yields itself to the theme of an epic showdown, so the trick became how to show our hero overcoming insurmountable odds in a way that would be visually exciting and still have a Sharon Jones flavor to it. That challenge became the backbone behind every decision that was made on this video.

Aesthetically, we took inspiration from many sources. Daptone is an independent label whose sound harkens back to classic soul of the late 60’s and 70’s, so we started our research by pouring over classic psychedelic animation that popularized that era. We took notes from films such as Yellow Submarine, Fantastic Planet, The Point, The Wall, and Heavy Metal, but also looked to individual artists outside of that sphere. We were particularly inspired by the work of Alan Aldridge, the theatricality of Busby Berkeley, and the backgrounds of Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle, specifically the strong silhouetted designs in Sleeping Beauty. We even did a fair amount of research into Greek mythology and fairy tales to bring larger themes into play. By pulling inspiration from many influences, we strove to create a unique world that would ultimately strengthen Sharon’s mythology.

I could not have done this project without the amazing team that was assembled. The sheer talent that was procured for such a small independent project was staggering, but this truly was a labor of love for everyone involved. A special shoutout to the heart and soul of Team Sharon: Michelle Higa Fox, Erin Kilkenny, and Shixie Shi. From concept to final, the process of making this music video was a collaborative effort between myself and these three women. In my entire crew I had an embarrassment of riches, but without the contributions of these key players this video could not have existed.

All in all, I am deeply grateful for this experience. It’s not often that one gets to pay tribute to an artist that they deeply respect, but more importantly it was an opportunity for me to collaborate with a group of insanely talented artists that I am also lucky enough to call my friends. On this one project I have grown light years as a director, and the lessons I’ve learned throughout the process are invaluable.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Lizzi Akana

Behind the Scenes

Making-Of Progression

1 Comment

  1. Slanted Studios » Lizzi Akan Interviewed on Portable
    November 27, 2013

    […] Great interview on Portable.tv with director Lizzi Akana about the genesis of our music video for Retreat! […]