Emmanuella Zachariou: Music Video Success


By Anna Vandergriff

After less than a year of directing, filming, and conceptualizing music videos, senior Emmanuella Zachariou has already achieved a level of success that many people can only hope to attain in a lifetime.
Her most recent music video for the up-and-coming Swedish band The Holograms recently premiered on the website of Spin magazine as well as that of Interview magazine. Both magazines are incredibly influential in the music scene.

One of Emmanuella’s photographs, featuring senior Britt Haegglund.

Zachariou has always had a strong connection with music. “I was the middle school DJ [at Mill Valley Middle School]. I’ve always liked and connected with music and wanted to work in the music industry. Once I came to Tam I got started doing photography,” she said. “I had these connections with actual musicians. I would go to their concerts, and since I did band photography, it was a good way for me to bond with them. I would take their picture and I would do Polaroids of bands and then put it on Facebook. Sometimes they would add me as a friend and at first I was so excited about it, but now it’s more just business.” That is how Zachariou formed her connection with The Holograms.

Zachariou’s love of live music led her to an internship at Dark Entries Records, which is “an independent record label located in San Francisco that reissues music from the ‘80s, like minimal synth,” Zachariou explained.

Due to her extensive musical knowledge and interest in photography and film, the company assigned her first project: create a music video for Icelandic band Q4U’s song, “Boring.” The band was unaware of Zachariou’s age, due to the professional quality of her videos.

“Now I was freaking out because I had to make an actual music video and at that point I had never done that. The only type of video work I had done was in AIM [Tam’s Academy of Integrated Humanities and New Media], so it was a big deal. […] I had to listen to [the song] about 30 times before I had an idea of what to do,” she said. Zachariou described the song as trancy and dance-like, a feel which gave her the inspiration to create a “trippy” video.

“It was all filmed on my bedroom floor and it was lit by an iPhone. […] I used my little digital camera to record on,” she said. Last summer, Zachariou did a pre-college program at the San Francisco Art Institute for experimental cinema and black and white photography. “I made a film for the class that was a self-portrait,” she said. The video was filmed using 16mm film, which Zachariou cut by hand.  “I put the film up on Facebook and the next morning I woke up to see a message from one of the guys from ‘The Holograms,’” Zachariou said. He asked her if she would be willing to edit it down and make it into their music video for their new song, “Meditations,” and she eagerly agreed.

“I was freaking out because I realized it was really official now. It’s not just an independent record label with 2,000 views, this is like YouTube with a commercial at the beginning and a huge fan base,” she said.
Zachariou had some difficulty while creating the Holograms’ video. “I was on vacation when they sent me the message, so the first thing I did when I got home was buy Final Cut Pro, but it didn’t fit on my computer, so I bought a new computer and then Final Cut Pro didn’t work with the computer I bought, so I had to make their music video on the trial version and that was really stressful,” she said. Her hard work nevertheless paid off.

“When I turned it into them, they loved it and told me that it would be premiered on [the websites of] Interview magazine, which was Andy Warhol’s magazine, and Spin, which is another huge music magazine. I was just like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ,” Zachariou said. “I was waiting so long for that day and then when the video came out, all these articles were written about me, and they compared me to Ingmar Bergman, and I was freaking out because he’s such a cool filmmaker. The articles would mention my name, and be like ‘Director, Emmanuella Zachariou.’” The video drew over 10,000 views in the first two weeks after it was released.

Zachariou plans to continue to practice photography, but has changed her focus to film and sees herself studying both in college.