AU alumni win five Cannes Festival Lions
Pair worked with Kesha for same-sex marriage music video
Last June, American University alumni Lagan Sebert and Brandon Bloch won awards at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The awards were earned for their music video “I Need A Woman,” featuring the singer Kesha, which focused on inclusion and the LGBTQ community by telling the story of a marriage between same-sex couple Dani and Lindsay in a wedding ceremony officiated by Kesha in Las Vegas.
Both said AU helped them prepare them for real world experiences in the film industry.
“I’m a huge fan of AU,” Sebert, who received his master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from the School of Communication, said. “One of the things that really sold me on AU is just the practical training.”
Other elements that stood out for Sebert was the immediate hands-on tasks available for students and the internships available through professors and AU.
“Just from that day one, when I went into WAMU, they literally just handed me a microphone,” Sebert said.
Bloch received his master’s degree in film and video production. Bloch also liked the opportunity that AU provided to development of a broad range of skills.
“What AU did for me was it encouraged me to kind of go out and figure it out myself a little bit,” Bloch said. “What I appreciated about the program was the flexibility of it and the ability and encouragement to make it what you want.”
The “I Need A Woman” video that won Lions was for MGM Resorts’ #UniversalLove album. They received a Gold Lion, three Silver Lions and one Bronze Lion. A Lion of St. Mark is an honor given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the creative community. The video focused on celebrating love in all ways and the importance of inclusion.
Sebert founded the production company, Magic Seed, along with his wife, Sandra, in 2011 and first started working with Bloch on the MTV series Ke$ha: My Beautiful Life. Magic Seed created not only music videos, but also high-end commercials, branded projects, short films and documentaries.
Magic Seed was hired by the ad agency McCann to produce a video for the "Universal Love" campaign and McCann helped get the film and campaign recognized by the Cannes Festival. Neither Sebert nor Bloch could attend the event as they were both working on various other projects at the time, but they said they hoped to attend if another one of their projects gets entered in the festival.
Last year, Magic Seed transitioned into a more public company that unites various backgrounds within film and production, but also backgrounds outside of the film industry, like communication studies, Bloch said.
“We all have the same values, we all think the company can do some good in the world,” Bloch said. “We all have a similar vision about wanting to build a company that grows beyond just us and continues to take on bigger and bigger projects.”
Both Sebert and Bloch emphasized the importance of trust within Magic Seed and trying to build a company that goes beyond monetary aims. Sebert and Bloch traveled around the world together with Kesha for the MTV series, where they created an even stronger bond.
“Starting a company with somebody is essentially, like, borderline starting a second family,” Sebert said.
Bloch said the production industry’s constant evolution, can be one of the biggest challenges but also one of the biggest opportunities for creative development.
“What Magic Seed wants to do is help [artists and celebrities] elevate [their] message and reach new audiences in really compelling, visual ways,” Bloch said.
Sebert said the whole process in making content with Kesha and other artists is a collaborative process that can take months of talking and developing to form the creative idea. One of their more recent works with Apple Music is called Kesha: Rainbow - The Film.
One of their most recent videos, “Here Comes the Change,” focuses on getting young individuals to register to vote and to get people excited about being politically active.
“I love telling stories that are relevant to what is going on in the world,” Sebert said.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Magic Seed produced a film for the "Universal Love" campaign by ad agency McCann.