Project info: Music Video
Artist: Anthony Hamilton
Song Title: "Struggle No More"
Director: Edwin Decena
Industrial/Urban District, Anytown. It’s early in the morning and the cold winter rain saturates the trash littered streets. We open with an exterior shot of a rust-worn diner. Inside the diner it’s pretty shabby: the old pictures of historical figures who once endured the struggle (Martin Luther king, Malcom..etc) hang from the walls as if they were relics from another place and time.
We cut to an extreme close up of the worn hands of a waitress, pouring sugar into a steaming cup of coffee. We cut to a wider, more revealing shot of another, more attractive waitress picking up breakfast plates from the order window, struggling to carry all the plates at once.
The music starts…
We cut to a shot from inside the diner’s tousled kitchen to find the short order cook, Anthony Hamilton, slaving over a hot grill reading off the breakfast orders that hang on the exhaust fan vent over his head. We cut to an extreme close up of Anthony, while he rocks back and forth and mouths the words “I’m sick and tired”. From this point forward we will introduce short vignettes to our central story that will visually illustrate the song’s theme of the everyday struggle.
These vignettes will be punctuated by short, narrative-style performance moments, always in tight views of the artist – giving a claustrophobic effect and accentuating their seemingly inescapable predicaments. (More on the vignettes later)
Anthony is draped in a grease-stained, all white cook’s suit. Anthony’s forehead is drenched in sweat, and steam from the hot grill, and the only thing he could do to mentally bear this drudgery is to sing to himself (“I’m sick and tired..”) and occasionally look up at the pictures over the exhaust fan vent and let his imagination carry him away.
In tone the piece will be dark and cinematic. Aside from the contextual tone of the video, visually this piece will have a tough, natural, documentary look that will depict, with stunning authenticity, the daily struggle. The piece will give the viewer a sense of empathy. Moreover, the handheld documentary-style, dynamic camera work will enhance the immediacy of the experience.
Verse 1. The camera moves to a shot of the diner’s counter where the uniform-cladded (dickie suit) Musiq sits, sipping on his coffee and slowly picking up his head to with an introspective look, almost as if he was silently talking to himself.
We cut to inside the kitchen to find Anthony coping with his short order cook gig. As the camera covers Anthony from different angles, we cut back and forth from the kitchen into the dining area where we can see the diner’s windows being beaten by the rain. The mixture of the morning rain and daylight that seeps through the diner’s window blinds casts spotted shadows throughout the diner.
Outside, the rain is coming down. We see a group of day laborers, mostly Central American immigrants, huddled up under the diner’s canopy, trying to get cover from the rain. Jaheim stands at a far end from them with his hands on a steaming cup of tea trying to keep dry as well.
Back inside the diner, we find Anthony almost serving as narrator to Musiq’s predicament. Musiiq, who seems to be waiting out the morning rain as he looks outside the diner and softly adlibs Anthony’s words to himself. From a distance we see a naturally beautiful waitress stands behind the counter, admiring Musiq.
As Musiq manages to take his last sip of coffee, he digs into his pockets. Musiq pulls his hands out and leaves his pockets looking like rabbit ears. All he has is about two dollars and 15 cents and a hand full of lint.
The diner manager notices this and grows noticeably agitated as if Musiq was going to try and skip on the bill. Musiq puts his hands on his head as if to say “If it aint one thing it’s another…” Intercut Musiq’s daunting situation at the dining room counter with a shot of the kitchen where Anthony pleads with the lord to “Get him out of this mess I’m in” ..
Inside the kitchen, we see Anthony banging on the vintage tv set. He belts out the chorus while adjusting the TV’s antenna until he finally gets an image. Inside the TV we see a clip reel from the movie “Daddy’s Little Girl”. We occasionally cut from the TV set to find Anthony watching it amused, still singing the chorus.
Cut to the Diner counter and see Musiq singing the chorus, trying to conjure up some change to pay his bill. The diner manger pulls out a broken off wooden bat from underneath the register and slowly waits for Musiq’s move.
We will introduce a short vignette of a little boy tying his even brother’s shoelaces and making sure he’s ready for school. We cut to a young teen looking into a virtually empty refrigerator trying to find something to eat (besides the cardboard carton of cheese).
Cut to outside and Jahiem helplessly looking down the empty streets.
By the look of Jaheim posted up under the canopy, we could tell he doesn’t fit your normal profile of a day laborer. But for whatever reason (prison record..etc) this is the only legitimate job he could readily get. As he stands outside he performs the lyrics to himself, almost as if to build himself up in order to deal with this daily struggle and stay strong.
A few seconds into his verse we see a pick up truck driven by a contractor pull up. He needs a few workers. He sorts through the crowd of immigrant workers and decides to take a chance with Jaheim. Jaheim is grateful as he hops on to the back of the pick up. As the pickup pulls off, Jaheim puts his hands in his pockets to keep warm. He continues to sing to himself, this time with his face expressing a slight sense of relief. As he says “The love it gives me energy,” he pulls his hands out of his pocket and surprisingly finds a small toy. Automatically, it brings a smile to his face.
We cut to a brief vignette of presumably Jahiem’s daughter playing with the toy and placing it in Jaheim’s pocket, almost as if she was giving him a part of her, to take to work.
Chorus 2 & Finale.
On the back of the pickup, Jaheim notices the menacing stares from the other Latinos on board. Jaheim’s not shook but he’s cautious and prepared for whatever confrontation from them. As Jaheim pulls along in the pick up, we see the streets from his point of view. Poetic, moving images of children in school yards, playing double dutch and singing portions of the chorus. A close up of the children shows them wearing white t-shirts with black print on them. The t-shirts each have words of hope: love, promise, trust, believe, faith, and dream. We cut to see a striving single mother, moving along with her strollers making her way to the daycare center. An older man pulls up the metal gate from his storefront windows and gets ready for a new day.
The clouds are starting to clear.
We cut back to the inside the diner. Musiq is still trying to find a way to pay for his bill. The diner manager has grown impatient. With bat in hand he starts to make his way towards Musiq. Just then a soft hand gently caresses his. Musiq looks up to find the beautiful waitress smiling down at him. To Musiq’s surprise, she softly mouths the words “I got you…”. The manager backs off.
We cut to the kitchen and find Anthony gazing at a luxurious picture (of a stylish car, model, etc.). As he sings “Out on the scene with the finer things..” his mind seems to drift away to a better place. Anthony displays an elated smile as for that moment, the dirty, busy kitchen couldn’t hold him back from being lost inside his own private fantasy.
We cut to the back of the pick up truck and see a Central American day laborer begin to pull his hands out of his pockets. Jaheim eyes widen up. He’s ready for whatever. The Latino extends his hand towards Jaheim. Jaheim’s facical expression changes and he gives him a pound and the mood among the workers seems more harmonious.
We cut back to the diner. The rain has completely let up and the sunlight is washing away what ever was left of dreary morning. Our final shot is of Anthony. He’s clocked out of work and he’s walking out of the diner. Work is out and he’s left his daily troubles behind him. Anthony walks off gets ready to embrace the brand new day.