Teenage rock band hopes song and film dealing with mental health issues and campus gun violence leads to conversation and healing.
Los Angeles-based Love Ghost, a teenage rock band inspired by 90’s grunge and hard rock subculture, is premiering on AWN their new animated music video, 9mm, which goes inside the mind of a high school shooter, asking important questions about the painful realities of campus gun violence and how mass shootings in the U.S. have reached epidemic proportions.
The band’s frontman and 9mm songwriter Finn Bell, who also wrote the video, tells AWN, “I am currently a high school student. My generation, we all struggle with loneliness, with isolation, with not knowing how to connect. Mental health is a struggle for most of us. Access to guns is too easy. I wrote this song from a place of anger and frustration with it all. For this video, we put ourselves into the mind of a shooter, to try and understand their mental state and other factors that contribute to their rage. I don't have answers, but something needs to change. We hope this can begin a conversation towards healing.”
Bell wanted the animation to reflect the mental state of the story’s hero, who is struggling with his own sanity while he navigates feeling like an outsider, trying to fit in at his high school. He explains, “We actually searched quite a bit to find the right animator, scouring animation grad schools, watching animated videos, and reaching out to any animator we thought might fit. With Rituparno [Maity], it was not his animation that drew us to him - which at the time was mostly advertising – but the fact he is an incredible painter. He has done some amazing tortured human faces that we thought might be incredible as animation. We are so happy to have worked with him.”
Maity, who lives in Howrah, near Kolkata, worked directly with Bell on the video’s production. He used Flash for the animation, Photoshop for backgrounds and After Effects for rendering. Paper and pencil were used for character designs, character turnarounds, background designs and props as well as for drawing several of the scenes. He relied heavily on his new Huion Kamvas GT-221 Pro tablet, which helped him achieve the particular visual style Bell was looking for. He notes, “I’ve always liked 2D classical hand-drawn animation. To me, hand-drawn animation feels more live, more human than CG.”
According to Maity, this was his first music video and he was not used to Bell’s desired style. “I started with a lot of research. I had never created this type of dark environment in my previous work, and this was also a new drawing-type animation style for me. It was a big challenge. After finishing the animatic, I completed the shot where the hero is drawing his gun in front of a mirror, and I felt happy with how it turned out. Finn particularly wanted the piece to have the same sort of feel as the movie Jacob’s Ladder. We experimented with many different characters and nightmare scenarios but wound up simplifying both the animation and the story itself. Finn also wanted the ending to not be clearly defined -- he wanted the audience to wonder what happens next.”
Bell ultimately decided late in the production that the video should open and close in color, with the remainder in black and white. Maity was able to adjust the style of the black and white sequences, incorporating more shadow and contrast to achieve the final desired look.
Love Ghost, produced by Eric Lilavois (Saint Motel, Surfer Blood), consists of Finn Bell (vocals, keys, guitar), Mya Greene (viola), Ryan Stevens (bass) and Samson Young (drums). The four-piece band blends heavy rock, garage psych and moody pop for a unique sonic fusion. Their music is influenced by their personal experiences with addiction, mental illness, heartache, love and coming of age. Despite the band’s youth, their music brings a nostalgic blend of distorted guitar melodies, heavy drums and emotionally stimulated lyrics. Love Ghost’s musical composition is inspired by a mix of old Universal horror films meshed with iconic grunge artists such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains.
You can find out more by visiting Love Ghost online:
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.