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Local music video shoot goes international

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 09:25:18-05

An abandoned auto factory in Fairfield is the backdrop for a new music video from an international recording artist.

Olivia Sebastianelli, a British singer signed to Warner Chappell Records, came to Cincinnati specifically to work with Yellowhaus, a video production agency led by Patrick Meier, who is known for his one-shot videos for Walk the Moon’s "Anna Sun" and EVE6’s “Curtain."

Inspired by video vanguards such as Michel Gondry, Meier and his business partner Jeff Bucalo love the creative freedom that comes with doing music videos. Corporate work is Yellowhaus’ bread and butter, but “we both wanted to make sure we were tackling the creative side and doing projects like these music videos where there are no restraints,” Bucalo says.

Sebastianelli’s song “Lighting Fires” is a ballad from her upcoming album, a powerful song that confronts the things she’s been through in her life.

In the video, she begins bundled up in a diva coat and sheds layers as she walks through the maze of sets, extras, dancers and lights the Yellowhaus team designed. The team ran through the setup for the 3½-minute song close to 20 times; two of the takes are under consideration for the final video.

Music videos are “a blank canvas,” Meier says. “You’re working with another very creative mind, working with musicians. There’s an inherent dynamic there that’s interesting.”

And the draw of doing a music video in a single take is insanity, he says.

“I’ve always loved single takes in film. It puts the pressure on the people who are in front of the camera. It lets them shine, much like improv. There’s all this back-end legwork and pre-production legwork. And then it’s lights, camera, action.”

“You either do it right or you don’t do it right,” Bucalo adds.

Meier lives near old Milford and says most of his best ideas come to him while he’s commuting to Yellowhaus’ downtown office.

“Even the Walk the Moon video came into my head while I was driving,” he says. “I have to pull over and frantically take notes before I forget.”

Through long phone calls with Sebastianelli, he designed the concept and choreographed the various players to fit the old GM plant’s nooks and crannies. The video shoot was a local affair. The crew was local and students from Badin, Moeller and St. Xavier high schools can be spotted as dancers and extras.

The British singer seemed to enjoy her time in the Queen City. While in Cincinnati, Sebastianelli shopped at Shake It Records, befriended a scorpion and a penguin, visited the American Sign Museum and got a new tattoo.

There’s not yet a set date for the music video’s release, but Sebastianelli seems to be teasing it: “Cher loves a quick change outfit. I wonder who else loves a quick change outfit.” she posted to Facebook on Thursday.

Follow Grace Dobush on Twitter at @GraceDobushToGo.