Liz Cooper and the Stampede
Role: Director, Writer, Production Design
NPR: Liz Cooper and the Stampede’s Music Video for Hey Man Turns a Tea Party Upside Down
Rolling Stone: Singer-Guitarist Liz Cooper Talks Psychedelic Debut Album
New York Times: Liz Cooper and the Stampede “Hey Man”
Nashville Scene: Liz Cooper and the Stampede Damage Mom’s Calm in ‘Hey Man’
The Spokesman-Review: Liz Cooper and the Stampede Celebrate Girl Power in ‘Hey Man’ Video
I had fallen in love with Liz Cooper and the Stampede’s sound as soon as I had heard their Audiotree session shot in Chicago. When they finally returned to Chicago to perform, a casual chat after their show cracked open the door of starting to pitch them music video concepts. The storyline for “Hey Man” ultimately stemmed from the similarities I felt I shared with Liz, especially growing up, and how I felt women shouldn’t be defined to this fake standard the world had created. The screams built into the track also really stood out to me, as well as the guitar solo that just explodes out of the song. Although the concept had nothing to do with the lyrics, it “sounded” to me like it was a call to action and an anthem of liberation. So I ran with it!
I ran two weekends of auditions looking for the perfect cast. 18 girls auditioned to play the lead role with very stiff competition. Having directed lots of kids in the past, I knew that this girl needed to be intensely versatile and really give us crazy amounts of performance variety. Enter then 11 year old Madysen Reilly who, if you can believe it, was making her on-screen debut with this project.
For the adult women, I mainly drew from the Chicago comedy community as I knew I wanted women who would unashamedly step up to be weird in this project. None of these women knew each other previously, though their on-screen chemistry as a group is just insane. Lindee Katdare, who plays the queen bee mom, confided in me at her audition that she was sick and tired of being cast as the perfect suburban mom. I felt like I really connected to all the women I cast with the similar underlying feeling that we all wanted to burn expectations of women to the ground.
I collaborated with my talented friend and DP Sebastian Lama on bringing this project to life. We wanted to make sure Maydsen could utilize the entire bedroom space without restriction on every single take, so we shot almost all of her portion on a Ronin. I also loved the idea that Madysen’s character had this deep rock-god mentality who visually felt like she was on stage and not in her bedroom. Downstairs, we wanted it to feel like a stiff contrast between the worlds. Everything was in its place and styled into this Suburbia perfection.
I drew a lot of style inspiration for the adults from Edward Scissorhands and Mad Men, which hair and makeup artist Tiffany Anderson absolutely knocked out of the park. It was such a blast to tear their perfection apart for the final scene and sit at monitor watching the whole thing come together.
I created the fake makeup line, “Pretty Girl” for this project and had a blast creating all the props. I took all my general rage about being a woman and channeled it into the product design and names. The name “Pretty Girl” in itself was the most vomit-inducing thing I could come up with, but there are less-seen items with names like “Cheat Day Chocolate” and “Knight in Shining Armor.”
In post, I went through several iterations with my editor, Adam Howarter. We used the original storyboards and then continued to look for ways to intensify it in post. We ultimately landed on adding an RGB split look on the adults that we felt elevated the otherworldly fakeness but also aided in visually breaking free when chaos ensues. Adam also colored the project using references I pulled from Stranger Things and Mad Men to give it a jointly 70’s/80’s bizzaro retro look.
The project premiered, much to mine and the band’s excitement, on NPR and has also been featured in an array of other publications, including Rolling Stone! It was an honor to get such a detailed shoutout in the article because I felt like so much of me and my point of view went into this project.