Director Larry Ziegelman wreaks horror from heartache in his first music video for “Stung,” a song about lost love from Brooklyn artist Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis’ 2016 album, “Lion.”
Introducing a surprise twist at the end, he puts a creepy shudder into the lush narrative without missing a beat.
Ziegleman met Rubenstein-Gillis through a mutual Chicago friend, who funded the “fairly tight” budget. The director’s dilemma was selecting exactly which one of Rubinstein-Gillis’ songs to use.
“I wanted a song that I could listen to over and over again and not hate it,” he explains. “This song, ‘Stung,’ I liked. It sticks with me in a good way.”
Recognizing “an obvious direction” in the lyrics, he intertwines the happy tale of a couple in love with the sad testimonial of an ex-boyfriend, who sings the story directly into the camera.
Rockwellian scenes of afternoon dates blend seamlessly with the image of an erstwhile Romeo alone in his bedroom. When the former lover declares, “I’ll take your mouth and make it dirty… Let’s see how much of that poison I can take,” the melancholia gets warped.
Chicago actor Jaron Bellar portrays the heart-broken ex-lover. Zoquera Milburn is the object of his obsession — even after she begins a new relationship.
“I wanted the viewer to feel sorry for the main character,” says Ziegelman. “Then I wanted the viewer to realize that he is flawed. You know, he’s been stung.”
Bellar won the role largely on the strength of his expressions. “He has a kind of a friendly, boy-next-door look. But when I asked him to turn on the evil psycho, he did it in a subtle, really scary kind of way.”
In Milburn, Ziegleman found an actress who was bordering between girl and woman, “who had this kind of playfulness,” he explains. “Zoquera is the kind of person who, when you’re talking to her, she’ll just start twirling around the room.”
DP Christopher Barrett (“Best If Used By”) shot the bubbly romantic collage and the unsettling ex-boyfriend close-ups, in several outdoor locations and a single-family home in Wicker Park.
Ziegelman arrived at the project with a load of award winning comedy shorts in his arsenal. His 2012’s “Little Man of Steel” explores the depths of Superman’s sexuality in a convenience store. “Boom Boom” in 2011 transforms a suicide bombing into a character-driven, Seinfeldian coffee shop conversation.
See the “Stung” music video here.