Led by Nick Corrao, a team of University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) students produced a music video for singer-songwriter Tim Higgins and his song “Blight.”
Corrao, who served as a producer for the video, and Higgins have been friends for years, so when Higgins wanted to create a music video to promote his new album, he approached Corrao. However, Corrao wasn’t sure his schedule would allow for him to fully commit to the production as much as was necessary, so he turned to one of his students, Reagan Wells, a senior journalism and creative media student from Galesburg, Illinois. For Wells, the project was an example of great timing.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take on, artistically, everything that the project was going to demand,” Corrao said. “I like to get my students involved in whatever I’m doing, whenever possible. Reagan and I had worked together earlier in the summer, and we had a really good working relationship, and I knew that he would be up to the task.”
“It was funny to me, because we went out to eat one night, and I said, ‘I’d like to do a music video,’” said Wells. “He said, ‘Well, I’ve got one for you.’”
The opportunity presented a new challenge to Wells, who had never directed a film before, but wanted to add portfolio experience before graduating.
One Day in Greensboro
“Blight” is an ode to Higgins’ affinity for antiquated things, as well as a lament for the destruction of those same things. The video captures that feeling and was mostly shot in an antebellum mansion owned by a friend of Higgins.
Filmed in various locations around Greensboro, Alabama, south of Tuscaloosa, Wells said he wanted to capture Higgins’ vision for the video more than anything else. While the shooting only took one day, brainstorming began two months before the cameras ever were rolling.
“If it looks cool, it will probably work. This was not just a directing thing, this was coming up with a concept. The sky was the limit, but you just didn’t know where to start,” Wells said. “We had three very talented shooters and an assistant director. We had 40 gigabytes of footage, and it was just like, ‘What do you do with this, where do you start?’”
Like a Rolling Stone
“I wanted to give Reagan the freedom to sort of explore creatively and give feedback on the cut,” Corrao added. “This is what we want to do in the (JCM Media Production) program. We want our students leaving here with work that has received some kind of professional recognition and exposure.”
In November, the video was highlighted in “Rolling Stone” magazine as one of its 10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week alongside country and Americana mainstays such as Jerrod Niemann and The Revivalists.
Wells said he could not have made this project work without his team, made up of fellow University of Alabama students: Alex Cherry as an assistant director and Jeb Brackner and Rhianna Israni behind the cameras. He also cited the importance of “trusting all ideas” in the process and knowing how to delegate duties.
“It feels so good to walk away with those videos in hand, and I can say to potential employers, ‘I was here doing work, I wasn’t just sitting in a classroom for four years,’” Wells said. “It’s this thing where I can say, ‘Here’s this, here’s what Reagan can do.’”
The music video for “Blight” can be viewed below.