The Uprising tells us about creating Rihanna's American Oxygen music video

How the Uprising used iconic imagery of the US's historic flashpoints for Ri-ri's latest music video.


The Uprising directors Darren Craig, Jonathan Craven and Jeff Nicholas have collaborated on their second music video for Rihanna, for her new single American Oxygen.

According to the directors, they and Ri-ri wanted to dramatically present US history using stock footage of famous and infamous moments.

"We wanted to showcase both the positive and the negative," said Darren Craig. "The struggles within the country and the ones those outside the country face in coming here; the dark side of the positive and the light side of the negative."

To assemble these classic clips, Uprising's team performed exhaustive research, ultimately drawing from more than a dozen sources, including the Associated Press, CNN, Getty Images, NBC and Shutterstock, to name a few.


A great deal of effort also went into their live-action shoots with Rihanna on two different Southern California locations. The first was an active runway at the airport in Victorville, and the second was Pasadena's City Hall.

"Normally people shoot on taxiways and the surrounding airport elements, but we really wanted the feel and scale of a real runway, so we went for it," said Craven.

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According to Bauman, the choice to shoot using the Alexa camera package was an easy one.

"When I shoot beauty work, I always go Alexa because it is more flattering," he said. "Secondly, I knew we would be shooting outside in the desert, and to capture some silhouetted, high-contrast footage of Rihanna in front of the giant American flag, I wanted the extra dynamic range."


That choice and others created a need to shoot in any direction and to deal with high winds on location – but the DoP feels it all paid off in the end.

"It looks phenomenal, in my opinion," Isaac Bauman says. "We got everything the artist and the directors wanted."


Additional editing was handled by Vinnie Hobbs and Olly Riley-Smith.  

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