Spektor’s music video explores loss and greatness

Regina Spektor’s new music video “Black and White” strikes just the right balance. It’s touching. It’s wistful. And by applying monochromatic tones and soft lighting, director Daniel Ryan also gives the video a sense of nostalgia.

While the song was released late last year as part of Spektor’s album in “Remember Us to Life,” the music video wasn’t available until recently. The idea and pre-production, according to Ryan, began even before the album was released. This is Ryan’s first music video with Spektor.

Born in Russia, the artist and her family moved to the US when she was young. Her life experiences influence much of her lyrics. She released her first album in 2001 and slowly built a following. Spektor quickly rose to fame after her song, “You’ve Got Time,” was nominated Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2014. The song, which was created for Netflix’s original series “Orange is the New Black,” caught critics’ attention.

Ryan hopes to ride along Spektor’s trajectory to greatness.

“Black and White, is about remembering the loss of a loved one,” noted Ryan. “Much of the video was created to echo loss and memories with a dreamlike quality in mind.”

Ryan and his team added fog to create a haze for sunlight to shine through. The ballerina, a lead dancer from the Joffrey Ballet, is a ghost that comes to life and takes viewers through those feelings of loss as she dances her way across the theater.

Using the Uptown Theater as the backdrop was a stroke of luck, recalled Ryan. A friend of Spektor owns the theater and allowed the production team to shoot in the space. The shoot took approximately 14 hours, recalled Ryan. The budget was tight and had to cover the entire crew, ballerina, rented gear and post production. Serving as producer, director and editor, kept the budget in line and Ryan was able to make things work. With the project now over and fans praising the video, he feels good with the end result.

The “Black and White” video launched in Elle.com a few weeks ago and already views for it have soared to nearly 200,000 on YouTube. Music to Ryan’s ears.

A former in-house director for Chicago’s Energy BBDO, Ryan is currently directing commercials, writing an original screenplay and working on an art project with Leviathan Design Studio.

“With this project now behind me, the next step up in my evolution is to accept bigger budget productions.”

It would seem that Ryan is on his way to greatness.

Regina Spektor // "Black and White" from Daniel Ryan on Vimeo.