Scott Foley is a sixth grade teacher in Somerville, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. Aside from his day job, Foley is a budding videographer whose range of work has tremendously expanded within the last couple years. Foley produces, shoots, and edits his own film projects. More recently he has ventured into the area of music video production and is currently shooting three different videos for various musicians.
One of the most impressive aspects of Foley’s artistry is that the self-taught videographer pushes himself to try a new approach with each video–something that is immediately noticeable when reviewing his collection of work on his Vimeo account. Each video tests new effects, ideas, equipment…Foley sees unearthed challenges as enticing opportunities.
One ever-consistent bit of charm in Foley’s work is the inclusion of his girlfriend in many of his projects. What might sound like an annoying reoccurrence at first is actually his simple and elegant female muse. She plays the characters well, sinking into whatever mold is necessary, sometimes helping Foley script the videos. Together, they generate some really beautiful footage. In one instance, the duo presents a weighty, scripted video haiku, in another they’re touring the carefree, summery streets of Boston.
THE BOMBER JACKET spoke with Foley about how he got into filmmaking, what his experience has been so far, and what he has planned in terms of music video work.
TBJ: Your current career is in education…what sparked your interest in film?
Scott Foley: I have a bachelor’s in international relations and a master’s of arts in teaching. I often suggest I should have gone to film school instead, yet life is as it is. In high school I took my first steps into the film world via public access television. Five friends and I had a 26-week-long comedy skit show. It is during this time period that I really began to love the process of editing footage. A few years later, while in college at Union, before transferring to Boston University, I was president of the very first television network. It was hard work getting the funding and speaking with various on-campus entities for approval, yet when it came together, it really came together. I am proud to say it is still in existence today.
It seems as if your videos require a lot of time and care. With a full-time job in another field, how do you find time to create such great pieces?
I heard once that each minute of edited footage should equate to one hour of work. I often spend five hours on a forty-five second clip.
It is difficult to find the time, yet you do. There are have been multiple mornings in which my sixth grade students have asked, “Why are your eyes all red?” I reply simply, “Well students, your teacher is also a world-famous director who has deadlines. You have them as well. Cough up the homework, kid.”
How many videos have you made so far? Which one are you most proud of thus far?
I have made well over a hundred short videos, yet I have only allowed sixty or so to be public. On average, I produce three shorts a month. The one which I am most proud of in terms of editing, composition, and color is a short promo I did for Katachi magazine, which can be found here. In terms of raw emotional gravitas, without a doubt, my favorite is titled, “Laura,” which can be found here. It is a video that commemorates the day in which we first began officially dating. If we ever get into an argument, I sit and watch it. It takes me back. It makes us whole again.
At what point did you think, “Okay, I want to take this more seriously”?
I have not yet thought that. I am a very all or nothing type of person. The world has yet to see my serious work. I have yet to see my serious work. It lives only in my mind. For now.
What kind of equipment do you prefer when shooting and why?
When shooting I use a Canon 5D Mark II for all but the slow-motion shots, which I use my Canon T2i for, due to its 60fps option. Audio wise, I run with a camera mounted Rode Videomic Pro. I would love to step up to more professional gear, yet sadly I do not have the funding as of yet.
When editing, it seems as if you really go for Adobe and Sony software over Apple’s Final Cut. What’s your reasoning behind this choice?
The reasoning is deeply psychological and in no way based upon technical qualities. Put bluntly, I do not like the phrase, “industry standard.” Thus if everyone is going to be forced to use Apple Products, I am going to use Sony. I like to push my work in different directions. I hate not being a leader.
It seems like you do a lot of experimenting in your videos, using your girlfriend as your muse–one of the videos with her is even called “My Muse.” Can you comment on this?
Certainly, I can. I have shot close to thirty videos featuring only her face. They have become very popular. I believe this is due to the fact that she is sexy, and more importantly (apparently), true emotion can be felt between her and I by the audience. It is not only a foreign camera following around a beautiful girl, but a lover, chasing another, and this makes all the difference. Her and I often joke as to how far this connection can go, how far can we stretch the “young couple in love” concept. And so far, we have hit no boundaries. She writes, models, acts. I film, edit, encourage. Teamwork.
How do you go about learning new techniques? You’re self-taught, correct?
I am self-taught and proud of it. I began simply by searching through Vimeo and Videocopilot for online tutorials while living at home in a bunk-bed, at the age of 22, jobless. Eventually, as it so happens with all nerds, I learned of Internet film forums and message boards. It was there that I was able to learn much of the technical jargon. Now, I watch short films constantly, specifically music videos, and attempt to recreate their visual effects in my own head, using only the tools I have at hand. If you see me walking down the street, and my eyes are toward the sky, it may be because it is a beautiful day, yet more than likely it is because I am trying to deconstruct and construct the visual elements of the last video I saw, like a mechanic, a film mechanic.
Your videos are always very clean and colorful, sharp. What inspired your aesthetic?
This question, the question regarding inspiration, always bothers me, as I can never do the answer justice. I believe much of my sharp aesthetic comes from my own personality. I am cut and dry. I am black and white. I am impulsive. I am extreme. I tell it as it is. If given the choice between a rounded edge and straight edge, I will choose the straight.
What are you ultimately trying to accomplish in your videos?
I have but not a clue. I am lost at this point in my life. Perhaps I am trying to find myself. Perhaps it is all bullshit. Perhaps I am a modern day, older, Holden Caulfield. Perhaps. So it goes.
Which kinds of videos do you enjoy making the most?
First off, I enjoy making videos of my loved ones. I love the idea of capturing moments in time, for life is so transient and fleeting. I want to make it stop. I want to immortalize my favorite people in amber–like the mosquito in Jurassic Park.
Yet, I also enjoy making videos that have the potential to make someone cry. To me, crying is the ultimate show of emotion. If I can bring another, a stranger, to this point, without them ever hearing my voice in real time, without them ever seeing the ridge of my nose, I have done something magical. I also like creating videos that cause people to question their lives, their methods, and what is truly most important to them.
I aim to wither down the wick.
Over a two-year period, your Vimeo account has gotten pretty popular. What was your method of “getting out there”?
I share my work with as many people as possible, and do my best to comment constructively on other’s. Vimeo is not only about creating videos, but also about creating a sense of community. Thus, on almost every single comment I have ever received, you will see a reply written by myself, thanking them for taking the time out of their day to sit and stare at my work.
In the summer of 2010 you shot a video and used Memoryhouse’s song as the soundtrack. Pitchfork ended up posting about the video. How did that happen and what was your reaction?
To be quite honest, it all happened quite randomly. I heard their song. I liked it. I put it on a CD and drove down to Walmart with my mother. I shot some spontaneous footage of the car ride and edited the images to fit the mood (which undoubtedly also fit my at-the-time life mood). I shared it with a few Vimeo staff members and before I knew it, it was being posted about all over the Interweb. Until you, Jennifer Brown, alerted me to the fact that Pitchfork was a mainstream website, alla a Facebook like, I had but not a clue. For all I knew, Pitchfork could have been an offshoot of Home Depot. I was quite taken aback.
In terms of music, which kinds of sounds interest you?
I like music that evokes emotion in subtle fashions. I also like music that speaks to my swagger game. I go back and forth. I am a polarized person. Monday may start out with some Beach House and Friday may end with some Pusha T. Thus, on my twitter account, you will see both rappers and chillwave bands following my work. It is odd, yet it is me.
You’ve done some work with musicians. Are you hoping or planning on doing some more music videos in the future?
I have three music videos being shot currently (one rap, one chillwave, one folk) and I hope to do more in the future, for sure. Music videos are quickly becoming my ideal canvas. I love music. I love images. They work together. Get it right, get it tight.
Which music videos out there are your favorites?
Thank you for asking seemingly impossible questions to answer. Currently, my two favorite videos are, The Shoes’ “Time to Dance,” and Plan B’s “Ill Manors.” Both videos are extremely intense. Both videos will leave you with hot blood.
Will you consider changing professions and making videography your full-time job if things get busier?
I have not only considered it, but plan to put the plan into action sometime next year, once I have saved up enough money from teaching. It will not be easy, or safe, but something I feel I have to risk. I hope all of my supporters make the jump with me. Here’s to hoping.