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A simple haircut can serve a massive purpose.
The shearing of locks can represent a new beginning, an awakening where the past is left behind with the hair swept up on the floor. It can be utilized to represent who a person truly is, and give that person the sense of self they may have always felt beneath the surface, hidden under hair that acts like curtains guarding their identity.
For Jac Mestel of Happy Little Clouds, the haircut represented a coming-of-age, and a visual presentation of who they are as a person. Which makes the theme behind Happy Little Clouds” new video for “Beneath,” directed by Jenny Bergman of The Secret Bureau of Art & Design with cinematography and editing by Treebeard Media’s Stephen Lo Verme, all the more real; what begins in a darker, more desolate place eventually evolves into something more positive and colorful, and the acceptance at the end of the clip (ahh shit spoiler alert!) is the destination of a path towards the realization of one’s self.
And doing the haircutting in the video was a young girl named Britta, who we featured on Vanyaland during Carissa Johnson’s set at Porchfest last year.
“Britta really did cut my hair in this video, and I had been growing it out with this scene in mind because haircuts for me have been important for my own gender/sexual identity soul search,” Mestel tells us. “When I first got my hair cut short in college, for the first time I felt liberated. I was still scared of what people would think of me, but it was the first time I had done something for myself that was closer to physically representing who I feel like inside. So in many ways this video is more than just showing a song, it is a piece of me that I hope will help anyone who struggles with ignoring their inner child and understanding themselves.”
Mestel goes a deeper into the video’s aesthetic theme, adding: “There is a ton of juxtaposition and symbolism with the visuals. The beginning starts out in this kind of depressed state in the dilapidated pool with this dingy mattress where you find the band literally below ground. All the camera angles are lower. This represents the kind of depressed state one feels when trapped and alone by the isolation of feeling different but having to go along with what you think society wants you to be. By the end the pool looks very different and you’ll see the same mattress has become a pool float that lifts my character above ground and into a state of just being themselves fully and enjoying the other people who have also found their authentic selves. We used a drone to get a high angle of the last show to bring it full-circle.”
That drone was supplied by “Just Bill” Woodworth, one of many contributions to the video by familiar faces in the Boston music scene. In addition to the countless recognizable names making cameos in the video (Leesa Coyne! Brooke Feinberg! Linnea Herzog! Magen Tracy!), the clip was filmed at Eric Donohue’s parents’ pool and various other locations between Maine and Massachusetts. Additional cinematography was done by Bergman and Treebeard’s Erin Genett, Sophie Kaplan handled costume design (note that red dress), Amber Tortorelli perfected the hair and makeup, and Eliza Carpenter added production support and acted as “kid wrangler.”
That last bit was especially important.
“We play with the inner-child theme too and Britta was a lot of fun to work with,” Mestel says. “She got a lot of lollipops out of the situation too, which I’m sure she’ll remember fondly. Her character really embodies that very innocent, unscathed self that doesn’t care about what the world thinks yet and is reminding my character of how to just be.”
The video is already blazing a trail for positive change, as its screening January 5 at ONCE in Somerville also served as a fundraiser for awareness of issues surrounding transgender rights in Massachusetts, raising over $500 for the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Hit up Happy Little Clouds’ Facebook page for more on the band and the making of the video