Hey, You’re Cool! Sean Frank
Everyday scenes mixed with the magic moments
The path you take on a train or the bus can be a metaphor for the journey of a relationship, whether it be getting stuck in traffic and frustrated, or making a random encounter, or having a moment of magic. The new short film for H.E.R., directed by Sean Frank, combines the music from her two projects and focuses on a series of couples. Anybody from New York should be able to relate to the project and have some very similar memories. Whether it’s a shot captured on the Roosevelt tram, or a moment shared in the dollar van, we’ve all gone through something similar, or nearly exact. It’s even got litefeet dancers from WAFFLE Crew and some skating on the Williamsburg bridge to make it feel more like home. The mix of fresh eyes from British filmmaker and the close understanding of city life by New York’s H.E.R. combine for some intimate and powerful portraits. We caught up with Frank to find out more about the making of the film.
How was it making this very New York film coming from the U.K.?
I moved here about two years ago from London for work reasons. I was living in East London for a long time but I grew up in Bristol. This was commissioned by her label, it was my interpretation of her two albums. It’s a hybrid between a music video and short film. We wanted to make something about romance, so I had this idea about a day in New York, about transport and connection. We’re comparing journeys and relationships. On the train, you might stop when you’re having a rough patch in your relationship. So it was stuff very native to New York, where H.E.R. is from. A benefit of being an outsider is that I feel really inspired to film daily. I cross the Williamsburg bridge every day, it’s got such amazing architecture and the sun hits it and you get these shadows. The sky tram was pretty prefect. There’s the network of ferries that are not a luxury but people are actually traveling to work. In London I let a lot of that go by me.
How’d you know about the dollar vans?
That was something that H.E.R. opened my eyes to. She mentioned bringing one of those into it. So I did my research and rode one of them. It was amazing, hearing all these different conversations. You get this real mix of characters in this small space.
How’d you get an empty car on the Roosevelt tram?
It was very early morning, we shot around 4:30 a.m. to get that light. We got very lucky, we had one take to get that shot. We took a few other rides for the other shots. It was pretty magical seeing the light hit and reflect off the buildings.
Were the clips of phone footage and old film meant to make it more personal?
Yeah, we shot on an old Handycam and a phone and Super 8 digital. Most of it was on this really high tech Alexa. We wanted it to feel approachable and relatable. The HD footage looks great and is very polished and shiny, but we wanted it to be about these real characters and stories.
You did street casting?
A lot of it, yeah. They also reached out to people on Instagram looking for real couples. There were a couple people we put together, like the subway scene, that chance encounter.
What other type of shoots do you do?
I’ve done a lot of fashion stuff, like luxury brands in the U.K. I also shot a similar thing, a documentary on this rollerskating club in Bed-Stuy. I wanted to bring some of that feeling to the H.E.R. video. Personal and relatable. The music was important to that, and the lyrics really fit quite well for the skating. They all mention Empire and the place they were skating actually shut down a year ago, but because of the film, they were able to find a new space in Brownsville.