For Piper Bateman, 18, her high school breakup was really a breakthrough, garnering the Fallston native more than 2,500 eyeballs on her music video "(Finally) A Refugee" in just two weeks.
Bateman said she wrote the song after she and her high school sweetheart ended their relationship. She said while she was initially sad about the breakup, she soon had a revelation. She felt empowered.
"The breakup changed my life and the way I view myself and view life," Bateman said. "It taught me I am worth a lot and true happiness comes from within yourself."
Bateman said she recorded the song with her guitar teacher in a home studio months ago. But, when Baltimore based film director Jane Hollon heard the song a month before Bateman headed off to her freshman year at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, a music video was born.
Hollon, a Baltimore native, met Bateman's mom, a professional makeup artist, while doing film work on the HBO series "Veep" and the Netflix political thriller "House of Cards." Hollon heard Bateman's song and said she knew immediately that she wanted to work with her.
"All of the jobs I've had, I haven't been creative in the way I want to be – not directing, or writing or creating the vision," said Hollon, who directed many of her own film projects while studying at the University of Southern California. "I knew no one was going to give me a chance to do what I wanted to do, so I made an opportunity. And Piper had such a great song."
With just weeks before Bateman left for college, the duo put their heads together to create a 30-day campaign using crowd funding through the website Kickstarter to raise $2,000 for the video.
"I knew Piper had a really solid fan base and people would get excited about the project," Hollon said. "Once I knew we were going to meet our goal I got really excited."
Kickstarter allows supporters to pledge monetary contributions to projects via an online crowd funding tool, but will only collect the funds if the project meets its funding goals in the allotted time frame.
Hollon used the $2,000 to pay for some film friends to help with the two-day project, rent state-of-the-art video and lighting equipment, props and Bateman's wardrobe.
The video was shot in locations around Maryland including the woods behind the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Edgeley Grove Park in Fallston and Pure Wine Cafe in Ellicott City.
"We had Piper in these different scenarios to represent her emotional state at the time of the lyric," Hollon said. "At first it's at if she is singing to her ex-boyfriend who's haunting her, but by the end he becomes a part of her and makes her better."
Bateman said completing the music project has changed how she views her music career. She said she picked up her first string instrument at the age of 6 and started private vocal lessons at the age of 10.
"I think this whole experience has definitely launched my career," Bateman said. "I am starting to write more. I've gotten very serious about my music career."
Bateman said her music is a mix between acoustic, pop, rock and a little country. She said some of her music idols are the Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood and Jewel, who mix together singing and songwriting.
Since leaving for college, Bateman said she finds a few hours a day between classes to practice the guitar and her vocals. Majoring in communications with a minor in music, she said she has been pushing her video to different Philly-based radio stations and plans to audition for a university-based a cappella group in the spring semester.