Just over a year ago, Emily Kai Bock, then studying film at Concordia, had an idea for a music video for her friend Grimes's song Oblivion: Pair the aggressive industrial sound and ethereal voice with surprising visuals – a monster truck rally.
Bock studied the Olympic Stadium schedule and landed on the Oct. 1 weekend, which offered good macho alternatives: a football game and a motocross event. Without going through official channels, she and cinematographer Evan Prosofsky snuck in 35 mm cameras and made the video, which features Grimes (real name: Claire Boucher) equipped with headphones and a boom box, surrounded by a heavily male dirt bike/football crowd.
Total budget: $3,000 – put on a credit card – which included the tickets, and buying beer and pizza for Boucher's brother's friends, who provided their moshing talents for free.
The video, since viewed on YouTube more than 3.3 million times, has just been nominated for a U.K. Music Video Award.
It has also proven to be a rookie touchdown for Bock, 29, who was born in Toronto and also lived in Vancouver before moving to Montreal. On the strength of Oblivion, she has received multiple requests for representation, along with a whole bunch of "cool opportunities," including shooting a video for Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear. The Grimes clip "did a lot for me," Bock says. And for just $3,000.
This summer, she was contacted by Grizzly Bear's Ed Drost about the possibility of making a music video for their single Yet Again, off their September Shields release. Have a listen to the song and call him back with an idea, he asked. Immediately she envisioned a figure skater.
"I listened to it and I called him back," she says. "And I just rambled the entire idea to him. And he was, like, great. His only feedback was: Make it crazier.
The video, shot in Toronto over four days in August for $35,000, features a figure skater on some literal and figurative thin ice who spends a long, lonely night trying to find her way home.
Up next: Bock travels to New York on Wednesday to shoot a video with the French pop artist Owlle and to work on a documentary on New York's underground rap scene for Nokia Music in association with Sundance.
There have been commercial opportunities too, including a slick Coca Cola ad. Shot in Toronto last May, it's playing in movie theatres now.
"My friend went to The Master the other night," says Bock, "and texted me: 'Hey, you're opening for The Master.'"