If you’ve written off TikTok videos as dumb or silly or frivolous, please stop reading immediately. Or, if you prefer, accept that you are wrong, keep reading and prepare to be convinced otherwise. The videos that probably come closest to high art come from filmmaker @lastmanstanley, whose odd, uncomfortable creations often go viral. Stanley – it’s his middle name – is a 20-year-old junior at Tulane in Louisiana where he is studying film production and political science. There’s one video in particular that has haunted me ever since I first watched it this summer. It involves Stanley, a dog, the iconic music from Hereditary, and one deeply existential bathroom trip. We had him break down the video for us.
Let’s start with your TikTok origin story. What drew you to the app?
I started using TikTok in early December last year. My brother actually was the first one to make a TikTok video. He sent it to me. I thought it was hilarious. It was just him doing something stupid. So I got the app. This was during final season, so I was kind of constantly procrastinating and doing everything but my work.
Okay, so this summer you posted a video entitled, “When do we know when it’s over.” It’s excellent and also very strange. I love it.
When I did the video, I didn’t have a following of people who would instantly comment. I was always thinking about how I could grab people’s attention on the For You page. If you’re just scrolling through it and you’re a random person and you don’t even know who I am, what will make you stop to watch the video? That was the idea. How can I grab attention as much as I can? I thought the music and the dog would be perfect for the video.
What equipment did you use to film it?
It was all iPhone. I didn’t even have a stand or anything. I was just kind of putting it against the wall and books and stuff like that.
What was your inspiration?
The idea of the video originally didn’t really have much direction. I saw the movie, Hereditary, on a plane and I was like, “Okay, this movie’s great.” I looked at the soundtrack on YouTube I wanted to do something with that [audio] segment because I thought it’d be perfect. I knew I wanted to have the dog be the reveal and that was kind of joke, I guess. The beginning of the video like I was a lot of ad libbing, “Hey, can I use your bathroom,” because I knew I had to get into the bathroom somehow.
How many different scenes are stitched together there? How much how much footage would you say you had to take?
Most of the footage you see is the footage I took. There was not much to it. Mostly it’s just longer clips I shortened a little.
You play another character in the video, it’s basically you but in a hat and gnawing on a sunflower. How did that look come together.
It was actually a sunflower pen I had laying around. I thought it was good to add to bizarre vibe of the video. I was just like, “I’ll have him eat a sunflower.” Originally, I wasn’t going to have that in the video because I thought it was just too weird. But then I thought that I should cut right at the moment where you’d barely even notice it, it might do something. It’s actually pretty funny that people are like, “wait … the sunflower? What does that mean?”
Did you film everything sequentially?
I did. I think that worked out best because I filmed myself walking to the bathroom with my phone. Then, when I was editing, I took that audio from one of the clips of me walking while the other guy was in frame. It added to the confusion of two people being in the room, which I guess helped me put the time in the space in the video.
We have to talk about the dog.
Her name is Sadie.
Is she always that chill?
Yeah. I have three dogs. One’s a German Shepherd and one is a mini pinscher. They’re both huge spazzes and are constantly running around and barking. She’s definitely the more polite, quiet one. Thank God she was able to work with me. I’d just kind of sit her down. She was mostly just confused. I’d put my hand out and say “okay, stay,” and then she’d stay. I was so happy that it worked out, she was just being so compliant. Even in the shot where she’s looking right at me, she was just looking at me. I wasn’t getting her attention. She was always looking at me like, “what are we doing? What is going on?”
I think my favorite shot in it is the shot looking like in profile at Sadie with like stack of toilet paper behind her.
Now that was a hard one. I had to put the camera against the wall and keep her still and not have her look right at the camera. That took a long time to shoot because she was looking around and I’ve have to get her attention to look at me. Sometimes I actually slowed down the clips because there was only like one or two seconds where she was perfectly looking at me. To get the timing right, I had to slow them down a little bit.
Oh, did you use that in the clip where the camera is shooting over Sadie’s head and facing you in the door?
The face you make at the end. We have to talk about it. The moment where you smile for me was the moment I was like, “oh THIS is cinema!”
I wanted the tone I want the tone of the video to be super bizarre and weird and to have a lot of components to make it super bizarre and weird. The ending part I just needed to have some sort of ending … I thought the smile at the end would be good. I got a couple shots of me smiling, and frowning, and doing different stuff like that. I actually didn’t really intend for the smile to end really quick at the end, that was just me like kind of being done recording, like, ok I’m finished I’m not smiling anymore. When I was editing I decided it would be cool if I just cut it off.
I guess my last question is just … when do we know when it’s over?
Oh, man. I guess we just have to keep waiting.