It’s not uncommon for music video directors to work with budgets ranging from thousands to millions. Norman-based production duo Lamar+Nik made its calling card with $80 worth of glue guns and paint pens and a truckload of cardboard.
“If you really want to make something happen for yourself, you can’t wait around thinking,” said Nik Harper. “Just go out and make what you want. That’s literally all we did. We’re really lucky that people liked what we were doing.”
Their video for Philadelphia rapper Lushlife’s “Magnolia” (see below), selected to be showcased at next week’s South by Southwest Festival, featured each of the lyrics’ 188 words crafted into a cardboard head donned by the artist as each word was spoken. It went viral, making Lamar+Nik a directorial pair to watch.
Not bad for a pair of University of Oklahoma seniors.
Harper and Jesse Lamar High met through skateboarding, separately working on skate videos until collaborating while enrolled at Oklahoma City Community College.
To get its foot in the door, the duo offered its services gratis to Oklahoma City indie-pop act Crocodile and boyfriend/girlfriend pair Houses. Its reward is ever-increasing requests from artists and labels nationwide, who have taken note of the humble, but visually impressive spectacles.
“There’s certain things that draw us to a music video, and that is effort,” High said. “When you can tell someone has put hard work into something and planned out how it was going to be done, that always resonates with us. Many videos out there are just mash-ups of a band plying in different locations with a semi-storyline. We feel like videos like that — as cinematic as they may look — are not as well-thought-out as they could have been.”Recently, Lamar+Nik released its latest painstaking effort: a video for Samantha Crain’s “Never Going Back” (see below), from her new record, Kid Face. The clip features 3,800 hand-cut stills of Crain re-animated through a dominolike cascade of cardstock. After editing the initial footage, it took 14 hours to cut out the frames and a full day of setting them up on a winding track.
That was nothing compared to the full month it took for “Magnolia,” but in the end, the effort proved worthwhile.
“If we can get paid to make a video that we want to create, it really doesn’t get much better than that for us,” Harper said. “We hope we can get to the point where people trust our creative decisions wholly, and we can be free to make what we feel is amazing.”