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Sophie’s video Unvanquished is OUT TODAY! We’re so excited to share this with you, all the way from beautiful Scotland! Check out video director Ewen Clarke’s notes about the video below. Ewen is an award winning producer and film maker, we are so lucky to be working with him!
When Sophie came to me with the song Unvanquished and suggested shooting a music video that reconnects with her Scottish roots I was pretty excited. My first listen of the song immediately conjured up visions of this epic Scottish scenery, dark skies, dramatic landscapes. Sophie explained the meaning to the song that she wanted portrayed in the video: overcoming personally challenges and ultimately succeeding in your goal. Hence the title “Unvanquished”. We decided on a storyline that wasn’t really obvious, but that would hopefully lead the viewer in their own interpretation of it. For the story, there are basically two Sophies. The performance Sophie (wearing the white dress) and the ‘real’ Sophie wearing the black dress. The music really inspired a kind of chased, hunted feeling for a lot of it, so we opted to have the real Sophie being chased by something that we don’t actually see. This is metaphorically her challenges, her problems: whatever it is that she needs to overcome.
For the most of the video, performing Sophie is separate from the storyline. She is simply playing the song, while the story unfolds to the ‘real’ Sophie. After an initial chase where we see Sophie running away from her pursuer, she happens across a bow and arrow. This signifies a change in character, as basically she is no longer panicking, she has the tools to overcome her challenges now. There are some more running scenes, but now Sophie is confident, and is more the one doing the hunting than being hunted. Towards the end of the video we see her stalking through the forest, and firing a shot, presumably vanquishing her foe. Following this, she proceeds to the top of this natural rock formation that looks very castle like, and stands victorious on the summit, unvanquished.
The video ends with us seeing what is presumably a flashback of performance Sophie (in the white dress) sneaking down to the river and hiding her violin, which turns into the bow and arrow that the hunted Sophie discovers. This is supposed to convey that the answers to your problems, whatever you need to succeed, is inside you already. In this instance, one version of Sophie essentially helps herself to achieve her goal and overcome her challenges.
Or alternatively you could say we just made a fun video, running around some stunning locations in Scotland firing a bow and arrow. Haha. Up to you.
The locations were all researched remotely while we were over here in Canada which was a little challenging. It meant we didn’t always know exactly what to expect when we arrived at a location to shoot because photos can often be quite clever and misleading! But I knew that we would also stumble across some great locations while we were travelling around Scotland, as it’s pretty hard to go wrong in that beautiful country. I was particularly excited to shoot in Scotland as I grew up in England, and we used to go on holiday there every year, camping on the wild west coast. It was my first real taste of wilderness, and I can remember vividly driving through the valley of Glencoe (which appears in one shot in the video), which was the most remote and wildest place I had ever seen at that time. It was really special for me to be able to go back there and convey some of that wild, mysterious feeling in this video.
Most of the locations ended up being on the Isle of Skye, because it had the highest concentration of all the different aspects that we wanted to include in the video. It really is a beautiful place. Filming was pretty challenging due to the short timescale for the video (just 2.5 days for all the shooting and driving time once in Scotland) and I was really worried that the Scottish rain would show up and make things extra difficult. Amazingly though, it only seemed to rain almost exactly as we were done shooting for the day, and my biggest problem was that we didn’t really get much of the dark dramatic skies I was hoping for and we were often fighting with too much sunshine! The wind and the cold were also really challenging, mostly for Sophie, as myself and the Steve (the other crew member) got to wear as many clothes as we wanted while telling Sophie that she had to stand on a cliff top in just a thin dress trying to play the violin!
One of the most memorable moments is actually the very first thing we shot, down in the gorgeous green canyon. I really wanted a performance shot with Sophie standing on a boulder in the middle of the stream. This got pretty involved as the three of us tried to figure out how to safely get Sophie and her VERY expensive violin out on the boulder without anything going wrong on the first day of shooting. I never actually asked Sophie what would have happened to the violin if we dropped it in the water…
My favourite moment was how everything came together on the final morning, for the final Unvanquished scene. We arrived before sunrise to check out the location and angles, and it was FREEZING cold with a howling wind. Steve and I figured out the shots we wanted, had a brief amusing conversation about whether we wanted sheep in the shot or whether we should scare them away, that I eventually won by saying that this was supposed to be the epic portion of the video and that sheep are definitely NOT epic animals. When Sophie was ready were brought her out and it was obvious we really didn’t have long to get the shots we needed. Both because of the rising sun, the fact that the location would soon be overrun with tourists, and that Sophie was REALLY freaking cold. To make matters worse, Sophie had to do a lot of the shots for this portion in her barefeet because we could see her shoes while she ran which really didn’t look right. In the end, it worked out perfectly despite only having time for one take of each of the shots. Right down to the fact that the sun crested the horizon in exactly the right spot to backlight Sophie’s epic walk along the top of the castle. And we managed to not get any sheep in too 😉