Photo Credit: Hunter Berry
By Aaron Wagner
Rising country artist, Stephen Paul is debuting a music video today for his new single “Off My Chest.”
Stephen and Randy Shaffer, the director of the music video, chatted with Raised On It about what went into the making of the music video.
Before we get into the music video, what was the inspiration behind writing “Off My Chest?”
Stephen: I wrote this with Dustin Herring and Bryce Carlisle back in 2018. Dustin had come out to watch a writer’s round I was in one night and I said something to him in passing to the extent of “I couldn’t get something off my mind so I’m gonna get something off my chest.” I didn’t think anything of it until we got together later for a co-write and Dustin brought that line back up and I thought “well that’s amazing.”
Stephen: As far as the story goes, it’s pretty true to an extent. I actually had her spare key for her 4Runner. The whole song I had envisioned the steps it took to get to her house. She actually had a gravel driveway, so a lot of things throughout the song were true.
What was the process like for coming up with the concept for the music video?
Stephen: I was talking to Randy and I wanted to do something a little more interpreted for this video than my previous ones. I wanted a different twist and I think Randy came up with the prison idea right off the bat.
Stephen: One of the worst things you can do is break a girl’s heart and that was the whole theme behind it.
Randy: When we were discussing it, Stephen and I were throwing out ideas about how we can show the story that’s not so literal. At the time, we had discussed “yeah it would be cool if you were in a prison” but I didn’t even know the location of where we would do that yet.
Stephen: It took a lot of planning too, because we wanted to do the video where I was in jail, but we wanted to make sure it was clear that I wasn’t doing something bad like drinking and driving.
Randy: If I remember right, the one main thing we started at with this whole video, was if we did an interrogation scene where you were singing the song. We built everything off of that.
Going from the concept, to the actual video shoot, what were some of the important things that you wanted to capture?
Stephen: Obviously the emotion of heartbreak. We’ve all kind of been at that point where if we do something bad and hurt a girl, we’re trying to figure out a way to apologize. We really wanted to portray that hurt and heartache.
Stephen: I think we pulled it off. Allee-Sutton Hethcoat is an amazing actress. I don’t act, so I was hoping she would lead me in the right direction and even the first time we sat down and did that scene I felt like she was breaking up with me. I was thinking “I’m hurt.”
Randy: I wish we had a camera filming the whole house, because there were about 12 people in the kitchen watching this breakup happen and then once you guys were done, nobody said anything.
Stephen: It was truly a lot of raw emotion. I haven’t been in a relationship in a long time, but I felt like I was right back in that position during that scene.
From a filming standpoint, was there anything you wanted to make sure you captured?
Randy: There were a lot of moving parts and we were moving so fast from one scene to the next. We didn’t shoot this in chronological order either. I just tried to make sure that, with Stephen or anyone for that matter, when you film a scene and take a little break, that you’re able to get back into that same emotion.
Randy: As I’m filming this, I edit the video in my head. So I know when we have the shot, we can move on to something else.
A majority of the video takes place in the jail. Is there a specific scene within that space that stands out to you?
Stephen: I think the interrogation scene. There’s such a cool scene where the person in the shot disappears as Randy moves behind his head. Then the one-way mirror was really cool, because Allee was on the other side seeing everything, but I couldn’t see her.
Randy: I would agree. That scene was the money shot. And that’s the scene that got the whole video started months before. I really got that inspiration because I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan from The Dark Knight. We were like “Man, if we could find a place to pull that off” … and we had the perfect room. We didn’t have to add any lights to the room either.
When you were mapping out the final scene where the police officer knocks on Stephen’s window, were you leaving it up for interpretation?
Stephen: We wanted to leave it open to interpretation for those watching. It’s going to be cool to see what people interpret the video as.
Randy: Yeah, we left it very open-ended. We didn’t want to make something so concrete.
Stephen: Right. And I think that’s what’s so cool about this music video. It’s like a movie. The soundtrack happens to be the song.
At the end of the day, what do you hope fans and people watching this music video take away from it?
Stephen: For me, I just want them to connect to the song in a different way. Obviously, when you hear a song you connect it with your own memories or your past, but then you see it in a different light and think “Wow, I didn’t even think about it like that. That’s so cool. That put a whole new meaning to the song.”
Randy: This kind of project is something that turns heads and gets people to look at you. I think we made something really cool that people will recognize and can appreciate all the work that went into making something a little different than what you would normally interpret a song like this.
Stephen: I just wanted to do something creative. Whether it’s acting or directing, we’re all creatives. So to put all our brains and specialties together to come up with something like this it was cool. I’m super proud of this and our team.
Stephen: I wanna say thank you to everyone that was involved. It truly was a group effort and we couldn’t have done this without every person involved. It was just so much fun. I think this is truly the first real music video I’ve been able to be a part of. My other ones were really cool, we just spent a lot more time on this. There was more of a creative process behind it, really diving in and doing something that I think is very, very special. I’m excited to get it out there. I’m very thankful.
Creative Direction: Stephen Paul, Randy Shaffer, Alexa Ryncavage & Carrie Lelwica
Director: Randy Shaffer
Director’s Assistant & Interrogator: Dane Forrest
Editing: Randy Shaffer
Production Coordinator/Casting: Carrie Lelwica
Hair & Makeup: Mandy Burnett & Samantha Pekol (Harper & Olive Salon)
Photographer & Extra: Hunter Berry
Lead Actress: Allee-Sutton Hethcoat
Police Officer: Aaron Wagner
Jail Security Guard: Todd Williams
Jail Security Guard: Cody Parks
Extra: Jarrett Hartness
Assistant: Bailey Dombroski
Assistant: Kate Sessler
Management: Carrie Lelwica
Keep up with Stephen Paul on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tik Tok. You can also purchase Stephen Paul’s EP Off My Chest here or stream his music on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora and YouTube.