INTRODUCTION BY MORNING SLAYTER
When I began working in film on TV commercials and music videos, Stephen Verona was one of the film directors I most admired. He is considered the father of music videos and an innovative film director. One of his first films “The Lord’s Of Flatbush” is semi-autobiographical about his life growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Stephen is a renaissance man, film director, artist, and photographer.
What I like about his photographs is the painterly, cinematic quality. The light, color, and composition draws the viewer in. I am pleased to showcase the photography of Stephen Verona on HipSilver.
Stephen Verona is that rare 20th Century artist. Born in Illinois and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he has traveled the world - his art and films reflecting his astute observations. He started painting when he was two, when he put his fingers in shoe polish and rubbed it on the wall.
Stephen attended the Brooklyn Museum school, which he credits along with The School of Visual Arts for changing him from his rebellious black leather into his artistic corduroy. He has painted, sculpted, photographed, and made films. One of his photographs was given the Edward Steichen award from the Museum of Modern Art. Five of his films have been accepted into the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress.
Stephen began his career in advertising as an art director, producer, and co-creative director of Ogilvy & Mather. He moved on to directing television commercials.
It was on location in England for the Ford Motor Company that Stephen met John Lennon. Lennon gave him the rights to the Beatles’ tune “I Feel Fine”, which Verona animated. When the film was finished, John Lennon took Mr. Verona up to Columbia Records where he was offered the opportunity to work with anyone on their label. He chose Barbra Streisand.
He began doing the film of Streisand’s song “My Coloring Book” which ended up in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Animation Festival, and the Library of Congress.
These two short films for Lennon and Streisand were considered the first music videos by many. Between 1970-1972, Verona was the exclusive provider of musical promotional films for Columbia and Epic records. He did videos for Atlantic, United Artists, and Buddah records, working with The Lovin Spoonful, Boy George, Mick Fleetwood, Natalie Cole, Chicago, Streisand again, Simon & Garfunkel, and more.
Verona became intrigued with stories, both still and moving, becoming Lee Strasberg’s directing protege in the Actor’s Studio. He made a 17 minute film about his experience there. Three years later, “The Rehearsal” was nominated for an Academy Award.