A Summertime Dime – 10 Questions With Carlos Lopez Estrada

If you’re a music video fan, you’ve likely seen some of Carlos Lopez Estrada’s eye-catching work over the past month.

The director currently has three videos generating buzz on the web: Black Taxi’s “Take Off The Edge”, LEAL’s “Disco Ball”, and most recently “Summertime” by Los Angeles-based hip-hop group clipping.

Estrada’s fourth collaboration with the band (following “Inside Out”, “Work, Work”, and “Get Up”), “Summertime” offers viewers a streetside view of the citizens of Los Angeles.

The twist? Instead of actors, the features of rappers Daveed Diggs and King Tee are superimposed over unsuspecting passersby – creating an effect that’s equal parts unsettling and hilarious.

We’re big fans of Carlos’s work here at Boom Unit, and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the production of “Summertime”.

clipping-summertime-girl-beach-2

When and where was the video shot?
We shot the video in Los Angeles in December of last year. Not quite summertime, but oh well…

How large was the production crew on the shoot?
We had two crews riding around in two cars. I think eight people total. We warned everyone ahead of time that it was going to be far from glamorous, and we were probably going to get kicked out of a few places. Everyone was excited about it.

Niko (our DP) and I went to film school together, so we were already used to being sneaky and stupid with cameras. We had no shot list, no schedule, no idea of what we were going to find, and a very willing crew. Anyone could come up with an idea, or see something interesting, and scream out “Hey! Look at that old lady at the bus stop!” and we would just U-turn and start filming.

clipping-summertime-old-lady-bus-stop

What inspired the concept?
We had just finished another video for Clipping, for their song “Inside Out” and the label made us blur out an image we used of a guy called Rerun so that we wouldn’t get into any legal problems for using his likeness without his permission.

Anyway, I thought it would be funny to do an entire video that would explore this black censor bar concept and realized that we could also make everyone rap by putting Daveed’s mouth on them. It was too exciting to not do it.

rerun-clipping-inside-out

Were there any subjects you filmed who got particularly angry?
Yeah, a lot of people got angry. Also, a lot of people were incredibly cool about it and happy to help our cause.

What did you tell them you were doing?
We had a few different tactics but I think the most successful one was asking people if we could film them while already filming them. We’d wait for them to say “No,” roll for a few more seconds, say “Okay, sorry.” and walk away.

My favorite shots in the video are split seconds before someone shook their head or covered their face. The no-effects cut is probably better than the actual video, but I’m afraid we’ll never be able to show that anywhere.

We believe it! I imagine you encountered some interesting people driving around filming randomly on the streets of LA…

This photo was taken by the photographer that appears in the actual video. He is an old-schooler who takes portraits on film- and was nice enough to print this for us in this amazing frame. The actual moment when he took this photo is in the video.

carlos-lopez-estrada-clipping-summertime

It seems like you got a ton of footage – were any shots particularly challenging to get?
The driving shots were surprisingly hard to film. I wanted to shoot much more stuff with other people in cars, but we realized that it would be dangerous to surprise people while driving. So we decided to only pull the camera out during heavy traffic and red lights.

Speaking of challenges, there have been a lot of comments online about the arrest scene. How did that unfold?
Well, you know… It isn’t the proudest moment of my career, so I’ll just leave you with the stuff we put into the video. I’ll just say that the cops were cool and had a sense of humor about it.

Did you experience any particular challenges in post?
Mostly with the edit. We shot so much footage. It felt like we were cutting a documentary. There is a ton of great stuff that we didn’t have time for because the video was already 5 minutes long. Maybe we should do an extended cut for the 10th-year anniversary.

“Summertime” is the fourth video you’ve done with clipping. Do you find the uniqueness of their sound/style necessarily pushes you in new creative directions?
I love those guys. They make such interesting music and they are all incredibly smart. It’s been reinvigorating. I never had to write a treatment or a formal proposal for the videos we did. I would just email them and say “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this one thing…?” and they’d just respond saying “Yeah. We love it. Let’s go for it.”

clipping-summertime-group-shot

Something magical happens when an artist you are working with is fully supportive and sets no boundaries or expectations. I guess the principle could be applied to most things. Anyway. I’ve been listening to their album again and keep thinking that we should just keep making videos for all of the other songs…they’re all so good.

Special thanks to Carlos Lopez Estrada – if the last few weeks are any indication, we expect to be seeing a lot more from him soon!

Also be sure to check out CLPPNG, the debut studio album from clipping, available from Sub Pop Records.

You may also like...