A made-in-Stratford music video created in the style of a spy film will premiere as a special feature Friday at the pop-up drive-in theatre currently in the middle of its second summer on St. Patrick Street.
The video is a collaboration between musician and producer Ethan McCarroll, who also goes by Ethan Maac, and filmmaker Kris von Kleist. Shot over the May long weekend with a handful of local actors, the video for McCarroll’s new song, Past Due, will debut before Jaws, the 1975 Steven Spielberg thriller screening at 9 p.m.
“We saw this as a huge opportunity to display this project that we both worked so hard on, really on a shoestring budget,” McCarroll said. “We’re super pumped with how everything came out and I think that people will really enjoy it.”
McCarroll is a Stratford native who was living in Toronto when the pandemic was declared in Ontario last spring. He decided to move home and has since opened a small recording studio on Lorne Avenue, working with local artists such as Liv Robinson and Meredith May as well as others from elsewhere in southern Ontario.
“The last year has been strange, but it’s been good in that a lot of people are looking to do creative things, especially when they’re inside their own homes looking for (something) to do,” McCarroll said. “I think for myself, (the pandemic) was an opportunity to not only do the same and create music on my own, but also provide that service to others.”
Past Due is a track that’s been on McCarroll’s backburner for some time.
Although he began writing it prior to the pandemic, McCarroll said the synth-heavy hip-hop/pop song began to come into its own over the past few months, reminding him of the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir action film Drive.
For von Kleist, the song’s intro features a tone reminiscent of action movies in the late ’80s and early ’90s before it develops a more contemporary groove. Having worked together on a promo video for an album McCarroll recorded in 2019, the pair decided to explore the movie idea further. They came up with a concept that features McCarroll as an undercover spy in over his head, complete with dark aviators and a vintage Jaguar.
“I haven’t created anything like this … so it was a lot of fun to figure it out and be resourceful,” von Kleist said. “I’m very much a filmmaker that’s motivated by the tone that we’re working with and that’s the beauty of working with musicians … they already have the soundtrack. It just felt like this edgy, spy-esque genre that the song really accentuated.”
Having a big screen to premiere the video on was a bonus for the project and an opportunity von Kleist appreciates. The drive-in theatre, built last year to provide a pandemic-friendly night out downtown, has been a boon for area residents that enjoy watching or making movies, she said.
“If we didn’t have a location like that, it wouldn’t feel as exciting for us. It gives that physicality as opposed to just clicking the upload button and it’s done.
“We get to soak it in a little bit more,” von Kleist added. “I think for any artist … being able to just have that space and time to really appreciate (a project) is really sacred and really special to experience. There’s something pretty powerful about it.”