In this archival review, the writer 
Jim Farber reflects on Blashfield Studio's music videos and production techniques of the mid-1980s.

Reprinted from
Connoisseur Magazine
May 1989

In the animated world of 
Jim Blashfield everything
familiar looks strange.

As director of some of music video's most adventurously animated clips, Blashfield takes real objects from everyday life-- newspapers, baby carriages, spatulas-- and then photographs, Xeroxes, and animates them until they become hauntingly metaphorical. This unique animation process gives Blashfield's images a look at once antique and abstract, as if all of them were alluding to past, subconscious events. 

In Blashfield's "Leave Me Alone" section of Michael Jackson's full length Moonwalker home video, the director presents Jackson's life as an amusement park ride, both cartoonish and menacing. While poking fun at the wildest tabloid rumors about the star's life, Blashfield offers unexpected insight into Jackson's psychology. He constructs two Jacksons here-- one an impish child, the other a Gulliver-style giant, trapped in a labyrinth of roller coasters and log flumes. With wit and empathy, he portrays him as an adult enslaved to a child's fantasies. 

It is the first time Blashfield has used music video to explore a performer's persona. His other clips have struck exclusively to the song's content. His first, for Talking Heads' And She Was reflected the song's giddy sense of dissociation by presenting a woman floating above her neighborhood, looking down with glee on the mementos and landmarks of her life. Blashfield created Paul Simon's Boy in the Bubble, which presents images of ancient ritual and modern science as equally magical, and Joni Mitchell's Good Friends, where the animator replays an old relationship through its now shadowy icons.


In all these works, the animation is dense and dark, giving the impression of an old scrapbook. Key motifs recur-- newspapers and TV sets (to represent the collective media unconscious) and the sending of everyday objects into orbit (creating a separate universe). In this rearrangement of reality Blashfield tries to get at the hidden connection between objects and ideas.

"I feel objects and environments can function as metaphors for ideas we've been constructing in our heads that we can't put our finger on," he says. The director's tone can be just as hard to pin down. There is something a little sinister in animating such ordinary objects, but there is also a non sequitur humor. Blashfield himself cannot decide what some motifs represent: his fiery halos around some objects, for instance, mean "one of two things," he smiles. "Either the object is holy or it is radioactive". --Jim Farber
Young Edgar, (played by Al Yankovic wearing a rubber appliance) looks on in rapt fascination as the mysteries of the pancreas are revealed in Weird Al Yankovic's musIc video,  PANCREAS
Described admiringly as "dadaist juvenalia" by its many fans and detractors alike, and created with a budget exceeding that of all but the most deluxe set of Pontiac replacement hubcaps, the occasionally disturbing "all singing, all dancing" educational musical was directed by Jim Blashfield and produced with footage from the Prelinger Archives. Producer was Marilyn Zornado. 




And She Was / 1985
TALKING HEADS

MTV NOMINATIONS
 Best Group Video
Best Concept Video





Good Friends / 1985
JONI MITCHELL








I Can't  Wait / 1985
NUSHOOZ





Boy in the Bubble / 1987
PAUL SIMON

MTV NOMINATIONS
Best Video 
Best Special Effects
Best Art Direction
 Most Experimental
Viewers' Choice




Don't Give  Up / 1988 
PETER GABRIEL​





Leave Me Alone / 1989
MICHAEL JACKSON

GRAMMY
Best Music Video

CANNES GOLDEN LION
Best Special Effects

MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARD
Best Special Effects

MTV NOMINATIONS
Best Video
Breakthrough Video
Best Special Effects
 Best Art Direction
Best Editing
Viewers' Choice​




Sowing the 
Seeds of Love / 1990
TEARS FOR FEARS

MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS
Best Special Effects
Breakthrough Video

MTV NOMINATIONS
   Best Concept Video 
 Best Post Modern Video
 Breakthrough Video
 Best Special Effects






Walk Through the World / 1992
MARC COHN

 Music Videos
DIRECTED BY JIM BLASHFIELD
"And she was looking at 
herself, and things were
looking like a movie..."

Producer
Melissa Marsland




"Sittin' around in some 
all-night zoo, watching it run
like a movie..."

Producer
Melissa Marsland




"Hey, darlin', 
tell me what it's all about..."


​Producer 
Melissa Marsland



"It was a slow day and 
the sun was beating on the 
soldiers by the side
of the road..."

Producer
Melissa Marsland



"For every job so many 
men, so many men no
one needs..."


Producer
Melissa Marsland



"Leave me alone...
stop it! Just stop doggin'
me around!"


​Producer
Paul Diener












"Time to eat all your
words, swallow your pride, 
open your eyes..."



Producer
Paul Diener












"Everything is bound 
to rise and fall, that's all..."



Producer
Missy Stewart

GHOSTS OF POP
ANCIENT               STATUARY

MARGINALLY LESS
ANCIENT LORE
ANCIENT LORE When Blashfield Studio producer and studio co-founder Melissa Marsland sent Jim Blashfield's short film SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES to Talking Heads in 1985, the band commissioned the team to create a video for their upcoming single, And She Was. The succession of innovative music videos which followed imaginatively expanded the definition of the genre and captured attention internationally, receiving 17 MTV music video nominations and awards, a Cannes Gold Lion and a Grammy.

  Music Videos + Nominations & Awards