The narrative arc of August Eve's "Ghost" video isn't exactly groundbreaking: a well-dressed clique of teen girls do everything and nothing together, and two of them start to develop feelings that aren't strictly platonic. But the way 18-year-old August Eve—who wrote the song, the story, and directed the video—puts the pieces together is pretty devastating, especially soundtracked by her deep, dusky singing voice and a tearjerking piano melody. It's convincingly acted in a way that music videos don't have to be, and when we reach the inevitable tragic conclusion, it's almost a bummer to be leaving this hazy, timeless-feeling world behind. Fingers crossed for an extended director's cut or something. Watch the video above, and then read a quick email interview with the prodigious teen about turning a pretty song into one of the more arresting videos we've seen in a while.
Tell me a little bit about this song "Ghost." What inspired the lyrics?
Essentially, the song is about being haunted by suppressed or unresolved emotions, hence the title "Ghost." At the time it was written, I was feeling a lot of remorse that I emotionally was not interested in dealing with, so I tried to put it all in the song.
How did the video come together?
I wrote the earliest treatment nearly a year ago, and since then it's developed from a collection of imagery to a complete narrative. I wanted to tell a story that dealt with guilt, heartbreak, and reflection and I think that's conveyed though our use of film. Everything excluding the road shots were shot on 16mm, as I wanted the vignettes of the girls and their story to feel nostalgic, as if the shots of the open road against what we shot on film juxtapose the past and the present.
Watching, I was reminded of so many great dark coming-of-age films: Picnic at Hanging Rock, Heavenly Creatures. What were some of your aesthetic reference points?
John William Waterhouse was a huge inspiration, especially for the last scene of the video which is a total homage to Shakespeare's Ophelia. I also thought a lot about David Lynch and how to craft a world that is superficially idyllic, but much darker below the surface.
What's it like directing a video for a song you wrote yourself?
The best and the worst part was how much more emotionally invested I was in the project, being that I wrote the song and video. It made me more impassioned but also more worried about the final outcome.
You're an accomplished ballet dancer. I know the girls aren't dancing per say—but there is a certain casual perfection to how they move within the frame. Do you think your training helped you accomplish that?
Most likely. I think if anything it gave me a knack for blocking and choreographing shots which was such a huge priority for me when I wrote the script. I also greatly admire directors like Wes Anderson or Stanley Kubrick in that any given frame of their work is a perfect and stunning photograph on its own.