Pitt student cameos in music video for local band


Image courtesy of Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright, photographer for the Derek Woods Band, behind the scenes of the music video for “Don’t Look Away.”

By Aoqin Yan, Staff Writer

Pursuing personal passions while having heavy academic work is a massive challenge for many students. But Natalie Belin, a non-traditional undergrad student at Pitt, found a good balance between school and off-campus art activities like photography. 

“My degree is focused in humanities, and it’s art based and primarily focused on theater. I work in the undergraduate program of rehabilitation science, and I’m an administrator there,” Belin said. 

Belin was recently in a music video for “Don’t Look Away” by Derek Woods Band, a Pittsburgh local Americana and rock band. Derek Woods first formed the band in Los Angeles, California, in 2012. They later established a following in Pittsburgh, where the core lineup of musicians is based. The band has won several awards since its establishment, including the Best Americana/Folk Song in the 2020 Hollywood Music in Media Award.

Belin said the opportunity to perform as one of the cameos in the music video was a fortunate “accident.”

“This one just happened by accident, kinda. Because I was doing behind-the-scenes photos, and he asked me if I would like to make a cameo in the video, and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’” Belin said.

The music video for “Don’t Look Away” depicts the story of a tour in Pittsburgh. The video includes scenes of the city in a laid-back style of storytelling. 

According to Woods, the lead singer, acoustic guitarist and harmonicist of the band, the music video generates a delighted atmosphere for various people to enjoy.

“I think it’s a pretty light-hearted video that does appeal to a lot of different types of people. And it does showcase Pittsburgh, our hometown, as well,” Woods said. “I think it’s got a very timeless, universal kind of sound that a lot of different types of people might find something in it that they like about.” 

The band’s bass player, Chris Schaney, said both the video and the song bring positive emotions to the audience. 

“[Audiences] told me that [the song] really made them smile and made their day. It’s just a great way to start a day,” Schaney said. “I do like watching [the video] in the morning, which is really fun. It’s just fun all the way through. It makes you laugh, and it just makes you feel good.”

Joe Scheller, the saxophone player from the band, also said “Don’t Look Away” is an enjoyable song to listen to.

“There is a really great energy behind it. It’s just very upbeat, light-hearted, and there are a lot of good vibes coming from it,” Scheller said. 

Besides the cameo, Belin also contributed to many different behind-the-scenes works for the music video, including preparing the clothes for a puppet in the video and adjusting the scenes for photography.

“I’m with the puppet scenes. I helped fix things if I needed to, like making adjustments on the clothing or the body parts of the puppet [when] I was doing behind-the-scenes photoshoots, and I was also helping with lighting with the reflector,” Belin said.

The puppet appeared quite a few times throughout the music video, driving, singing and enjoying the trip around Pittsburgh. According to Woods, the puppet image represents Woods himself. All of the band members appeared on the camera along with Belin.

“[The puppet is] supposed to be me. But all the band members make their cameos throughout the video. And I’m actually in the video as well, passing them by. We kind of looked at each other, and it’s a cool moment.” Woods said.

Belin said she has developed professional skills in photography and acting through this experience. She added that she would love to establish a long-term work relationship with the band. 

“If the opportunity happens, where I get to do photos and stuff like that again, that’d be great,” Belin said. “The opportunity to continue working would be great. If I get to work with the band again, I will sell merchandise for the Derek Woods Band, too.”