David Knight - 29th June 2009

The skate-boys hit their local piñata store to mess around, have some fun - and romance the cashier-girl.

Vince Haycock's slice-of-life in downtown LA for MSTRKRFT - with romantic John Legend on vocals - is beautifully done.

Vincent Haycock on making the video for MSTRKRFT's Heartbreaker

"I loved the song, but it took me a while to figure out what it was that drew me to it. It's catchy, obviously, but there was also something about the way John Legend sings it - it's pretty deadpan. And whereas a normal heartbreak song would be more of a ballad, the music here was much more uptempo and catchy.

"All this suggested a bittersweet quality to me. Yeah, the song is acknowledging heartbreak, but at the same time it's also advocating for it in a sense because, really, what are your other options This is reaffirmed by the narrative the lyrics tell: the narrator knows the heartbreak is coming, but he doesn't avoid it.

"There's a writer I work with a lot, David Berthy, and he and I talked about how every heartbreak invariably begins with a beautiful moment. I kept thinking about James Dean and The Outsiders. David liked the interplay between Marlon Brando and the rest of his gang in The Wild One - how the rest of the gang is just interested in having fun but Brando is drawn to love. It reminded me of the packs of kids that you see on the streets of LA on skateboards. This delicate age was once described to me by a DJ named Larry Tee as the Morrissey years, because it represented the window in life where Morrissey made more sense than anything else. That description has always stuck with me as the perfect tag for that period of angst-ridden youth we all go through, and I definitely tried to capture some of that here.

"By combing all these elements, we created a narrative about a group of kids who go into a store. The leader focuses on the girl working there, and the rest of the kids go into their own thing. By having the store manager sleep and the store be empty of customers, it allows for this three minute window where everyone gets to have their own little journey free of restrictions.

"Of course everything changed once shooting got closer. Originally, I'd been thinking of a ninety-nine cent-type store, but then we found the piñata stores in downtown LA. They have an incredible visual texture, something Matthias Koenigswieser, the DP, really captured. I wanted the video to feel authentic, like a short film about LA's youth, to capture the mix of cultures and weirdness of the landscape. I love how the piñatas dangle from the ceiling, and how every aisle is packed full of figurines and toys and bags of candy.

"The cast came together really well I think. I'd worked with Morgan Krantz, who is the main guy, on an installation piece I just did for the opening of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute in Chicago. I love his presence in front of the camera, and I think he really sells the narrative in the video. The rest were a mix of professionals and friends and people I pulled off the street. The kid who draws the devil horns and puts on the piñata head is fifteen, and he frequents a skateshop and is part of LA skate gang, "Endless Bummer," that my friend Keith started. As for the shoot, we shot it at night, and the street was pretty desolate, but even though we were in there people kept coming in and trying to buy things.

"With the initial edits, I worried that the video was too sweet. Sweetness isn't something I'm used to working with. But through the editing process with Lee Gardner, I was able to balance the love story more with the journeys of the other characters. I went back to the location and got some sound design for the intro, and I really liked how that added to the texture. By the end of it, I was happy with how it all came together. We have been describing it as a modern-day-punk-Breakfast-club."

Watch 'MSTRKRFT’s Heartbreaker by Vincent Haycock' here

PRO Credits


Production CompanyStreetgang Films
DirectorVincent Haycock
ProducerTerence Liff
Director of PhotographyM
EditorLee Gardner
CommissionerRoss Anderson
Director's RepresentationAlexa Haywood at Free Agent UK

David Knight - 29th June 2009

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