Francois Klark drops stunning ASL video for 'Always' from the soundtrack of Netflix's 'Feel The Beat'
The film uses various versions of the track throughout, including one performed by Disney's 'Descendants' star Sofia Carson and another choreographed by Mia Michaels
South African-born, Canadian award-winning singer-songwriter and producer Francois Klark just dropped the official ASL music video for his song 'Always' and it is already a huge win for diversity and representation. ‘Always’ originally appeared on Klark's 2018 debut album ‘Love’, but when Emmy Award-winning choreographer Mia Michaels (most known for her work on the show 'So You Think You Can Dance') stumbled upon the song, she began using it to backdrop the audition process for Netflix’s new dance film, 'Feel the Beat', directed by Elissa Down and starring Disney’s 'Descendants' star Sofia Carson.
Down was instantly infatuated with the song’s stunning melody, feeling it embodied Carson's character and eventual arc — and decided to weave the song into the film. 'Feel The Beat' follows April, who, after failing to find success on Broadway, returns to her small hometown and is reluctantly recruited to train a misfit group of young dancers for a big competition. Klark's dreamy, evocative song serves as a recurring track throughout the film, and much like the movie's plot revolving around "second chances", 'Always' also gets a second run out in the sun two years since it first dropped.
'Always' not only bookends the film with the piano ballad prominently featured in the film's climax as part of a dance sequence choreographed by Michaels dubbed the "petal dance", but the melody is also peppered throughout the beautifully orchestrated film score.
The release of the film is also accompanied by an orchestral Spanish version of 'Always' ('Siempre') performed by Carson herself, as well as an official ASL music video by Francois Klark starring culturally Deaf American Sign Language interpreter Sage Lovell, a queer non-binary femme artiste and the founder of Deaf Spectrum. The video additionally features choreography by Matthew Fata performed by dancers Katie Hazard and Ian.
'Always', thematically, deals with how we often try to fight against or hide something that is so intrinsically part of who we are as individuals in order to fit in or be accepted by others, or often even ourselves. It pushes for self-acceptance, highlighting that there is peace, freedom, joy and love in being yourself and fully stepping into who you are meant to be.
Speaking about the choice to have a video built around dance, Klark shares, "Though not blessed with the gift of dance, I have always been infatuated with choreography and dance. I’m a big fan of Koharu Sugawara, Keone and Marie Madrid, Choreo Cookies, and I also might have had a slight dance crush on Chachi Gonzales after seeing her YouTube video for Big Sean's 'I Should Have Kissed You'. Years ago I attended the Toronto Choreographer's Ball where I saw an incredibly beautiful contemporary piece by LA-based choreographer Matthew Fata. We have since become friends and I have eagerly been waiting for an opportunity to collaborate with him."
"Since 'Always' was picked up by Resonate Entertainment to appear in their Netflix dance film, 'Feel The Beat', I thought that it would be very fitting to collaborate with Matthew on a music video featuring his choreography for this specific song," Klark adds. "Making a music video under Covid-19 quarantine restrictions not only sparked the idea for the concept of the video but also directly dictated how we would execute production. I realized how important it is to make all mediums of media accessible to everyone. 'Feel The Beat' actress Shaylee Mansfield's Instagram movement #InstaCaptioning has inspired me to not only caption my music videos moving forward but also to release a version of the 'Always' music video that includes an American Sign Language interpretation."
Mansfield, an 11-year-old deaf actress, is currently actively campaigning for Instagram to add quality automatic captioning to its platform to make it more accessible to members of the deaf and hard of hearing community. This push becomes increasingly imperative considering more people are relying on technology than ever, owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that sees many having to operate entirely from their own homes.
This has resulted in significantly more content being shared on social media, with Instagram being one of the most used platforms. And for over 400 million deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide, this signals a wealth of new information they are currently unable to access. Klark's video for 'Always' is thus part of a larger movement to make vital resources more accessible to the communities that need them.