In a perfect world, Duckie would have won Andie’s heart in Pretty in Pink; Xander would have wound up with Buffy, or at least Cordelia; and, well if you haven’t yet seen Stranger Things, I’m not going to spoil things for you. Love is a complicated game. Obsession is something else entirely — well, besides that ew de 80s parfum by Calvin Klein.

Obsession sets the stage for ‘Stung’ by singer/songwriter/producer Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis. The video, shot by director Larry Ziegelman, plays out like a three minute multiplex RomCom, make that RomCon job, and for the ending, let’s just say, justice prevails…

Popdose caught up with Rubenstein-Gillis and Ziegelman to find out how they brought Hollywood production values to a Chicago-set video for a New Yorker’s new song.

POPDOSE: Who came up with the concept for the video?

LARRY ZIEGELMAN (director): I came up with the concept and brainstormed the script with my twin brother Terry. When I listened to the song, it felt like a guy singing about a girlfriend and their less then perfect relationship. I didn’t want to create your typical star-crossed love story gone wrong. I wanted it to be more…something that would surprise the viewer, a story that the viewer soon discovers, is being told from an unreliable narrator.

You’re in Chicago, Ivan is in New York, how did you get the gig?

LZ: This is my first music video. The executive producer had seen some of my comedic short films and saw something in the work that thought I would be the right fit for this project. I had never thought about directing a music video before. Mostly because I’m a narrative storyteller, usually focusing on comedic dialogue. But, I was interested in trying my hand at something different, but while still telling a dark, comedic narrative.

The video has pretty high production values — did you need to crowdsource, call in some favors, pawn all your worldly possessions, sign Ivan to a major label — to make it happen?

LZ: The video was paid by the executive producer of the album, Dr. Meyer Horn. We had some money, but it was still very low budget. Most productions wouldn’t be able to shoot for one day with that amount, let alone two days and half. I had to ask lots of favors to make this happen.

We shot in Chicago. The interior scenes were shot in the executive producer’s house. The exterior scenes were shot in nearby Chicago parks and on the 606 Trail. Those exteriors were all ”run-and-gun” style of shooting.

The biggest score was getting the talented Director of Photography, Christopher Barrett, onboard. I’ve been wanting to work with him for years now. With Christoper donating his gear and his services, all the pieces were in place to make a kickass looking video. The amazing editor, Graham Metzger, of Hootenanny Editorial, and the talented colorist, Kelly Armstrong of Color Playground, were kind enough to donate their time and skills once they heard about this project.

How did the cast come together?

Being a low budget shoot, I put out an ad on I had a little money to pay the actors, but it was still for 2.5 days of work. I really didn’t get a lot of submissions. I’m in the midst of shooting a web series, Geek Lounge, with some really talented actors, so I asked them if they’d be interested in trying out for my music video. And luckily, they were game. I ended up casting two of my web series actors, Zoquera Milburn and David Weiner, as the real boyfriend and girlfriend.

Ivan, so what was it like playing the hero, well, anti-hero in this film?

IVAN RUBENSTEIN-GILLIS (singer) — Oh he, he wasn’t me.

Wait. What?

LZ: He’s an actor too. Jaron Bellar.

IRG: I had nothing to do with the video – which was a first for me and a very cool process, to see where someone else’s vision took it entirely. I feel that it’s kind of like a short film set to my song. I had zero input!

So do we ever see the real you? Perhaps a cameo in the video as one of the cops?

IRG: No – -and I don’t have a good band picture either. The album has lots of people on it and I play with different musicians all the time. I’ll send you a self-portrait though.

Ian Rubenstein-Gillis: Self Portrait of an Artist as a Young Band

Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis: Self Portrait of an Artist as a Young Band


Pick Up ‘Stung’ by Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis from the new album, Lion, for any price of your choosing via his official home page or CD Baby. Connect with him — the real him —  on facebook (and quite possibly see his real face). 

Be there when Geek Lounge opens its doors by connecting with them on facebook

About the Author

Keith Creighton

Keith is a music correspondent for Popdose and an advocate on women's empowerment, gender identity, and gender liberation issues. He is a monthly new-music contributor to the Planet LP Podcast and is a marketing writer by day for Sudden Monkey.

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