In a world full of content, sometimes the most captivating stories are those told with a touch of magic. In the documentary-style music video, Let’s Talk About You, Amber Mark, created in partnership with the Marriott Content Studio and VICE by VICE’s own Content Producer, Lily Dicostanzo, Director, Stella Scott, and a team of pioneering women, push the boundaries of cinema as the rising R&B singer tells her story through dream-like visuals and honest lyrics.
The W Records‘ premiere artist reveals the connection between her music and the relationship with her mother, while Lily, Stella, and their team brings the candid interview to life through a variety of video techniques, mashing of storytelling styles, and the perfect dose of magical realism.
We caught up with the Lily about her vision for Amber’s video, her experience working with an all-female team, and the way to create stories that sing in a world full of noise.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get involved with creating content and stories? Who/what influenced you to go down this path?
I was lucky enough to come to VICE about six months ago, after a career working at other fashion and lifestyle media companies. I’ve always loved the way VICE tells stories — particularly through video — and I wanted a chance to collaborate with the huge pool of talent that makes it all happen.
In the film about Amber Mark for W Records and VICE, you mix documentary-style storytelling with ethereal imagery and visuals. How did the team come up with the concept of music video meets documentary?
Stella Scott, our incredible director, had a really specific vision for this film that was very dreamy and nonlinear. This collaged together quality — including the mix of documentary film footage, lofi DVCam capture, music video, and archival — mimics the way we experience emotions and memories. It’s never as clear as point A to point B!
What were some of the team’s inspirations for the art direction when creating this film and how did your collaboration with the director, Stella Scott, help bring this to life?
This was one of the most collaborative sets I’ve ever been on. The W Records team was really on board to let Amber tell her story the way she felt best doing it, and I think that open, communicative vibe permeated throughout every step of this project. Stella is at once both incredibly passionate about her vision and very open to other people’s ideas and feedback. I think it made for a really fertile space for creativity and experimentation. Some of my favorite shots just happened via improvisation because everyone was feeling inspired.
What was something that surprised you about Amber Mark?
Amber is so warm and talented — I already knew all of that to be true before we got down to filming. What DID surprise me is how down she was for the whole crazy shoot. Watch through the doc and you’ll see her singing acapella half submerged in a cold creek, posing in the pouring rain, and dancing in six-inch platforms in the desert at night. So game.
Amber’s unique style is something that makes her stand out as an artist, and the costumes in the film are just as gripping. Was this Amber’s doing? Can you talk a bit about the styling for the video and creating her look on camera?
Our stylist, Shea Daspin, has a keen eye for reading someone’s vibe and creating insane looks based off of it. Shea combined Amber’s favorite touring outfits (thank you Amber, for letting us dig through your suitcase!) and Stella’s cinematic vision (a billowing skirt, a powerful red), and then she also just threw in some inspired surprise pieces. That nineties supermodel gown moment!
I hear you worked with a predominantly female team when creating this film. Was this different than most work you do? How did it influence the film and the dynamic?
Working with female talent, a female director, a female producer, female a makeup artist & stylist, and a female editor wasn’t something we planned, but I would say there’s a lot of femme energy fueling this piece. Maybe it’s all the exploration in the themes of girlhood and motherhood, but I can definitely feel it when I watch it now!
The industry of creating content is rapidly shifting, giving way for more creativity but also a lot of fear that people don’t read the writing or watch full videos anymore. How do you push through this pressure when creating work?
This is something I think about all the time — which is why making a film that’s 10 minutes long actually feels wonderfully long to me. My feeling is that while we all love short, easy hits of content, we (the content consumer) do crave work with more weight. We’ll never stop wanting to feel transported or moved by what we’re watching, and that’s really hard to achieve with a 30 second Instagram video.
What place, anywhere in the world, inspires you most?
I agree with Amber — New York City!