Holly Olmos directed the music video for Olivia Castagna's song "Things Don't, They Just" in preparation for the HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show.
The art of the music video is one that is intriguingly unique. Music videos are able to combine the magic of song and film into one piece of artwork, with an innumerable amount these videos being created and shared throughout the past many decades. While the platform is undeniably popular, creating a cocktail of two art forms can take a lot of work, effort, and creativity.
That's why we decided to take a look into the production of high school students Holly Olmos and Olivia Castagna's music video "Things Don't, They Just." Olivia Castagna, a high school senior who specializes in vocals and guitar, wrote the song over a period of time and the final song was admitted to be performed in HB Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Playlist 2018 show, which features a number of talented students performing both originals and the most popular songs of the year. The MMET Popular Music branch, which Olivia is a member of, collaborates with the MMET Media branch each year to create music videos for the admitted original songs in the show, which inspired the creation of Olivia and Holly's music video. Holly Olmos is also a senior in high school, who is a member of MMET Media, who specializes in filmmaking. Holly and Olivia had previously worked on a music video for Playlist 2017, and continued their partnership for the most recent show.
In interviewing the two of them, I was able to take a deeper look into what it took to create the music video for "Things Don't, They Just" and find out more about each individual growing artist.
Olivia Castagna: Vocalist and Guitarist
Caitlyn: How did your song “Things Don’t, They Just” evolve since its first chords to its final edit?
Olivia: One day in the summer, I was playing my guitar and found a chord change that I really liked, and I had later come up with the first words of the chorus. Then, I wrote a cool riff that I liked and decided to put that with the other guitar part. At first, I had a completely different melody but thought it was too “predictable", so I tried making the pronunciation of the words longer.
C: Who was involved in the creation of your song?
O: I wrote all of the guitar parts and lyrics, and then I gave it to my teacher Mr. Simmons, and he helped with adding the drum and bass which really put the whole feel of the song together.
C: What was your experience filming your music video like? What is it like to watch film and your song merge together?
O: It was really cool getting to work closely with my director Holly Olmos. We’ve been friends for years now and it is really cool whenever we get to collaborate with both of our ideas and skills. I love the stylistic touches that she makes to the chorus through wide framed shots. It is super rewarding to see the final product after we both worked really hard on it.
C: When and how did you start making music and playing? Did you start with singing or guitar?
O: I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old and always thought it was really interesting and fun. I was in a couple of bands when I was little (lol), and that’s when I started writing some songs. My sister and I really got into writing songs when I was a freshman and she was in 7th grade. I’ve always been primarily a guitarist until I started writing songs. I felt like it was a gateway into singing and gave me confidence because no one could tell me I was playing my own songs wrong.
C: You have been a member of the Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Pop program for years now. How has this program shaped you as a musician and performer and what are the most valuable things it has taught you?
O: MMET Pop has really opened my mind up to many different genres of music, people, and new technology, and I am so thankful for that. It has taught me to go outside of my comfort zone and to be more confident as a musician and a person in general. Through MMET Pop, I have found what I want to do as a career in my future as a Recording Arts and Music Technology major.
C: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
O: I admire Carrie Brownstein of the show Portlandia because she is a female musician that has fought her way to be where she wanted to be. When reading her book I felt so connected to how she felt as not only a musician but as a “fan” of music, as well. I also admire the band Devo for never giving up on who they wanted to be, even if it was definitely not the "norm". I admire Ozzy Osbourne for his fearlessness and for making history for hard rock/metal. I admire Lady Gaga for not listening to what people said was the right thing to do and just did what she did best, which was being herself. Anyways, my point is that I admire every musician who is brave enough to share their heart and soul with the world no matter what genre or time period.
C: Why do you enjoy creating and performing music? What role does music play in your life?
O: I enjoy creating and performing music because it lets my mind rest from all the worries that I have. It’s a way that I can drain my brain from everything that I had come in contact with that day. I know this sounds kind of cheesy, but music is like therapy to me and without it I don’t know what I would do to get by. I listen to music constantly and my favorite thing about it is that it excites me and changes my mood completely. It has given me so many opportunities to meet new people discover my passion.
C: What obstacles have you faced as a female teenager in pursuing music?
O: As a female musician in music, I have dealt with people having low expectations about my talent and ability, along with assuming I’m just a "pop" singer-songwriter. I have had many people ask me if I really wanted to play a song because they thought it was too hard for me to play. As a freshman in MMET Pop, I was the only girl guitarist in the underclassmen class amongst a sea of guy instrumentalists, which, at times, made me feel separated. I feel like people assume what I’m going to sound like without spending the time to get to know me and my music. But in this process I’ve gotten to work with many other girl instrumentalist and we’ve created a tight bond in our community.
C: What advice would you give to others looking to pursue music? Any last thoughts on music or being a woman in the arts?
O: I would tell anyone who wants to pursue music to do it no matter what, even if they try and don’t like it . It is important to give it a chance because it can’t open so many doors for somebody and is always there when maybe people can’t be. It is a very positive way to help people get out their emotions and stress that is weighing on them. Sometimes I feel that is common that female instrumentalists feel intimidated in a male-dominated industry, and my advice for them is that if you do what makes you feel good inside, it doesn’t matter what people think about you and in that music will always set you free. You can do it no matter what people tell you and you are capable of achieving anything you can think of.
Holly Olmos: Filmmaker
Caitlyn: Many of the music videos you create are notably visually aesthetic and pleasing. Do you make this a goal when making your music videos or is this something you decide depending on the song?
Holly: When creating music videos for original artists, I like to create an aesthetic atmosphere that represents the song and the artist’s taste accordingly. Making sure the music video is eye catching while complimenting the song well is my main goal.
C: You have worked with Olivia on a music video before. How does working with close friends on a video compare to working with others that you don’t know as well?
H: Working with a close friend, such as Olivia, helped a lot for the pre-production process since her aesthetic and vibe with her music was very clear to me prior. Since we both have strong work ethics, we had smooth executions and making creative compromises was great as well.
C: What was the production process of “Things Don’t, They Just” like and what experience did you have while filming it?
H: For the production process of “Things Don’t, They Just”, we spent a lot of time on finding locations that had aesthetic similarities and contrasts. Bringing variety to the table was what was important to the both us. During filming, keeping an eye of the pacing of camera movements and a good amount of footage from each location was highly important. Overall, filming was very successful and smooth process.
C: How many people were involved in the making of Olivia’s music video?
H: Olivia and I were actually the only ones involved in the making of her music video. The concept for her music video called for a simplistic crew. I found it a great learning experience for myself by taking action in each aspect of the making of the music video with Olivia.
C: What would you say is key when directing a music video and collaborating with others?
H: The key when directing a music video and collaborating with others is planning every aspect for the music video beforehand and having the crew be prepared and on the same page and mindset as you. Having your film days set out saves an enormous amount of time and future problems. As for the crew, making sure you have people who are just as passionate on this project as you is very important and can determine the atmosphere and flow of the video too.
C: How did you come up with the idea for your music video?
H: Hearing how Olivia’s song had a simplistic flow to it, amping up the colors and timing of the video was what we really saw as great potential to play with.. Some parts of the video were inspired to have that symmetrical, wide shot look by the movie “Moonrise Kingdom” as well. Going for the peaceful visuals was what fit best for the song.
C: How does making music videos compare to classic filmmaking? Which do you prefer?
H: Making music videos compares to classic filmmaking in a sense that by using visuals and music, you can tell a story/message without loads of dialogue. It shows the rawness and simplicity of storytelling basically. Between creating music videos and short films, I like to go right in between the two types by using minimal and quality dialogue and meaningful music to carry the story along as a whole. Both types of video art are equally important to me in their different ways.
C: You have been a member of the Academy of the Performing Arts' MMET Media program for almost four years now. How has this program shaped you as a filmmaker and what is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your experience there?
H: Being a member of APA’s MMET program for four years has been such a blessing in shaping my craft and love for film. Each year, I’ve learned more and more of the reality of the film set life, the different film positions and how they contribute to the project, and details of the filmmaking and storytelling process. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from my experience of being in this program is that connections and bonds with your fellow teammates is so important. Learning with and from your peers is what makes a difference.
C: Considering that filmmaking is a very male-dominated art form, were there ever any obstacles you had to overcome as female director?
H: Currently, I haven’t faced any specific obstacles regarding my gender in filmmaking. When I’m working, I’d just see a hardworking cinematographer or director working on the project. Gender really doesn’t cross my mind during work, even my own. I see the people around me that have a voice and we all come as one to create a final product.
C: Do you have any advice to give other young filmmakers or last thoughts you would like to share on the topic of filmmaking or being a woman in the arts?
H: As a growing filmmaker who still has loads to learn still, one thing I can share to other young filmmakers is something that one of my teachers has told me and that is, the best way to get better and learn is to fail. Failing isn’t something to be ashamed of all the time. You start to really learn from yourself and seeing yourself grow in confidence is what really can set you apart and thrive.
Follow Olivia and Holly on Instagram!
Olivia Castagna: @space.is.rad
Holly Olmos: @ohollywhy
Founder and President of the Heart2Art Project