It's easy to focus on the controversial nature of this TV On The Radio, which is probably the first video since Jay-Z's "99 Problems" to prominently feature somebody getting struck down by a hail of bullets. Director Jeff Scheven of Canadian production house Soft Citizen would rather focus on other aspects of the production and he's right. "Province" is not about acts of violence; It's about the love and the beauty that is still somewhat evident even when humans fall to our basest instincts. To put it another way, violence may lurk right in the middle of the screen, but hopefully not in our hearts.
Jeff Scheven, director: "The last time TV On The Radio played here in Toronto, [band member] Dave Sitek mentioned this vision he had of a beautiful, stoic USO girl being shot by animals. We've known each other fairly well over the past couple years through music and discussed the idea in detail one day while suit shopping. I really liked the theme of the natural world banding together and rising up to take on war-hungry man. And, I really liked the idea of man being represented by this pure and beautiful element, which is something that we all have inside of us. I told him I wanted to bring it to life.
It was important to me that everyone involved was excited about the project, as I knew that it was going to take a lot of hard work to pull it off. Luckily for me, every single person that came on really put his or her heart and soul into the project. The sets were all hand crafted and painted by art directors Rob Southcott and Mate Szemeredy. The costumes were hand stitched and made from scratch by my beautiful girlfriend and costume designer extraordinaire, Vanessa Fischer. We shot in black & white under the skilled hand of DP Chris Sargent to give it a timeless, classic feel, but also to help make the sets stand out more. The idea with the gunshots was not to be violent, but to focus on the beauty in the moment. Interscope was somewhat concerned about the concept and we actually did shoot a no-gun version as a back up, but never did anything with it.
The star, the beautiful Cynthia Udriot, is a friend of my girlfriend and I here in Toronto. I immediately thought of her when Dave mentioned the beautiful soldier girl. She's from Switzerland and her first language is French, so it took a while for her to learn the words of the song, but she really came through. There was a lot of pressure on her, because she's front and center the whole video. If the performance was off, the whole video would be lost. So, Dave came down the week before the shoot to help Cynthia with the lyrics and explain where they were coming from. Through this process, she and Dave became close, and in the most magical outcome of all, they fell madly in love! In a video where heart was so present, it seemed so fitting that both great friendships, and close relationships where formed. Just goes to show that once in a while all the right people come together and everything clicks. Love truly is the province of brave."
--> watch "Province"
TV On The Radio "Province" (Interscope)
Jeff Scheven, director | Nick Sorbara, producer | Soft Citizen, production co | Chris Sargent, DP | Michelle Czukar, editor