When I was maybe like nine or ten years old, the number one thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a music video director which basically meant that the idea of art directing a few minutes of media really, really appealed to me. This was of course preceded by wanting to be an artist, wanting to be an actor, and wanting to be a priest. All very faggy work, yes.
Music videos, though, were really what drew me to have an interest in film as a medium mostly because I fucking love a montage. Not just like a brief musical reprieve but a long, garish, ridiculous descent into a tuned hysteria. It breaks the fourth wall in the sense that the song is so out of place that the film acknowledges the joke it was making, indulging with you. Think the scene in House Of The Devil where Samantha jams out to The Fixx. Think the porno scene in Body Double where Frankie Goes To Hollywood “performs.”
Those are the montages I talk about: they make perfect sense for the film, fit into the world, and are absolutely unacknowledge in the plot. They happen in real time and, for whatever odd reason, they fit the film. It’s a bold statement that is very hard to pull off. (And this is not the fucking same thing as stupid machismo comedies where everyone sings a fucking “retro” song at the end of the film.)
I have a feeling that video artist David Dean Burkhart totally understands this. His work is a mixture of make believe music videos and lost cinematic montages: he takes songs he digs and matches them up to a typically obscure sequence in a film (or multiple films). Through clever editing—or none at all—he brings new meaning to both the song and the film, landing it in some weird in between zone of musical film fiction.
Examples: for Hibou’s beachy “Glow,” he sourced 1973 surf film Crystal Voyager; for Crystal Castles’ intense “Insulin,” it was foreign nunsploitation from School Of The Holy Beast; Andy Stott’s “Faith In Strangers” got a mashing of Takashi Ito short films; and—perhaps most fittingly and definitely my favorite—is John Maus’ “Streetlight” set to Italian horror film Ms. 45. That Maus pairing is so perfect in its costumed absurdity paired with Maus’ often deadly sounding vocals: the visual was so fitting that I was convinced for some time that it was the official video for the song. It’s a seamless match.
Dean Burkhart has produced a ton of videos, which means you could get lost with his work for some time. He’s also obviously gotten the attention of the artists he has made for because both Hibou and Napoleon commissioned him to make. Maybe all he wanted to do as a kid was make music videos as well? I would assume that is the case since he makes music videos for fun now.