Decoding Moddison

It all started one night at 3 about a month ago. Three words repeated in a musical rhythm so as to resemble the distant calling of one’s own subconsciousness.

Takes me away, takes me away, takes me away…

It wasn’t someone humming in the next room or singing on their balcony celebrating this summer night. Instead, it was inside, trapped and here to stay till resolved. What is it exactly? I had to find out. But you see I was not alone in this quest.

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So, this is where we start. 1957. Not the year or maybe the year. Maybe it’s the lakeside home address or the supermarket on 1957 Avenue Rd. Could it be that? Whatever it is, it’s the lead we have to follow. You see, this is an excerpt from a bigger story although just as complete in its own right. I didn’t know it first.

Is that it? There is a beginning and there is an end and it feels logical throughout.

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Or is there more to it? I had this intuition, a gut feeling that said there was and my search should go on. I read further and there were scattered hints pointing towards its possibility. And that brought me to ‘Moddison’ by Milo Greene – an epitome of the audio-visual symphony which is bound to leave you mesmerized.

Directed by Chad Huff for Milo Greene’s self-titled album, Moddison takes you on a metaphorical journey of a writer’s struggle with his story through an interplay of reality and fiction. To tie it to a single perception would be naivety because it’s brilliant subtlety leaves room for multiple interpretations.

Before we move further, here’s a question that’s been bugging me for years –

In this world of ~7.7 billion people, how probable is it to conceive an idea totally unique?

The premise is simple. You think of something that’s never been thought and execute it from scratch. Starting from square one, you move up the ladder without any past references.

My diverse work experience has made me realize how every new idea has a certain predecessor to it. We essentially stand on the shoulder of giants (so it’s said) which let me tell you, is made up of big monuments achievements and small incremental improvements. They are not as whole as such. Every irreversible reaction comprises of infinitesimal reversible steps and it is nearly impossible to track where exactly did the transition happen. And more importantly, what guarantees that someone else hasn’t thought of it?

Why do I ask it now? Well, 2 years ago, I thought of something similar. A love story, all musical with nothing but ambient sound for transitions. Non-linear storytelling that plays with subtlety. Minimal characters and the eyes show more than their actions. Hazy B-rolls, flashbacks, amazing romantic chemistry and a drama of everyday life that yields a tight narrative.

Watching Moddison made me realize if I had been my best version of a writer, this is what it would have turned out to be. I never completed the story, for one there was always this uncertainty of it ever getting made into a video. Also, I couldn’t make up my mind to hold up to the crazy expectations I had for the characters.

What if you fall in love with the character you are writing?

No, it’s not just an infatuation or sustained limerence. It’s thousands of words about her, countless hours of imagining her in scenarios, visiting real places in her company, road trip, dip in the lake, running through woods, sitting on the couch beside the fireplace, carefully crafting her doll face through your typewriter and choreographing a dance through pencil, intimate moments of embracing her character so as to live through it – you lady, you take my heart away.

But gradually she evades your control, takes over the senses and starts overshadowing rest of the story. You cannot develop other characters because now it’s all about her. You are aware of her fictional identity yet her actions affect you in a real way. What do you do? Do you avert your mind? Do you confront the distraction? Do you change the settings so she becomes like the rest? Do you write her unpredictable end in the midst of the story?

Remember, it started with you hitting the road to be on a journey of quintessential search for a character which will infuse life into the story you had been unable to write. You meet someone on the way, not exactly the one you needed but certainly an inspiration. Some physical characteristics transfer over and an alternate story is spun. You two meet at a store and then all the aforementioned things happen. The problem started when you wrote yourself into the story.

Now there exists a fictional version of yourself indistinguishable from your reality. The intention of ending a character has to transfer into certain physical action in the fictional version. The inevitable happens and it’s not completely your fault. She is detached and dead. It’s the end but she needs a proper burial, doesn’t she? Where do you go? The first place where you had gone when you two first met for real – the lakehouse. You are on the journey on the same road, in reality, restless like before, seeing similar things on the side as if the search is on once again for a new character with the end of previous one and the cycle continues till you break of it.


Why did I choose a video released almost 7 years ago to write about today? Did it really deserve a separate post? Well, apart from all the things that are incredible about ‘Moddison’, it also re-affirmed this esoteric co-dependency of music and visuals for me and how their symbiotic enhancement leads to an interwoven fabric of metaphysical symphony.

I remember watching one of Peter Mckinnon’s video about his tour to Epidemic Sound’s office and one of the creators told him that he usually watches video clips in order to make music. That’s exactly the opposite of what we, as video makers, do. While shooting a scene, there is usually a tune in our head which guides the shot – the camera angle, lighting, transitions, duration – everything. But that’s not how it’s done in a professional setting (for the most part). Clips are shot and then the music is made accordingly which was a surprising revelation to come out of my previous internship and watching tons of behind-the-scenes on YouTube.

May was filled with amazing music discoveries and my playlist grew subsequently. From The Oh Hellos‘ lyrical interpretation of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters in Dear Wormwood to Maggie Rogers recounting her Alaska journey but Aditi Dot takes the cake. There are just so many but once again I would like to express my astonishment over the immeasurable breadth and unfathomable depth of music that exists – there is something for every mood and every emotion. It can evoke emotions that weren’t there, to begin with. Music is the purest medium of expression and it just so happens that we are transcended to a moment of detachment where the line between reality and dreams is blurred.

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The perks of hanging around in the right corner of YouTube. Also, the recommendation algorithm has got surprisingly good recently.

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