Video: Dangerous by Faker
Q. What inspired you on your idea for the video?
The origins of this clip were very organic and very spontaneous. I was travelling around Europe earlier this year and was in touch with Nathan, the lead singer of Faker. He emailed me the artwork for their new single, Dangerous which was currently out for people to pitch on. I loved the graffiti figures (Dangerous Twins) on the brick wall. Very simple. Very evocative. They were dark and mysterious but also a little fun and quirky.
So I decided to pitch him an idea that was very simple. I was going to be in London in June and it was a city I knew well as I had lived there for many years. I pitched to them an idea that was them running around London in search of (or hiding from) the Dangerous Twins that appeared on their single cover. I pitched a process that would be spontaneous and evolve over a three day shoot. It was very risky. Fortunately, Nathan loved it. Management and Label approved it and he and Nick flew to London.
Q. How were you approached for the job?
I had directed the music video for Faker's third single, Sleepwalking, from their last album, Be The Twilight. Throughout the process we struck up a great artistic collaboration and friendship. I loved the way Nathan's mind worked. He was very visual and very complex. We stayed in touch with one another and when they had completed the new album he asked me to come over and listen to it. I was blown away by the new direction of their music. I loved it and knew that I wanted to be involved in some way. So we got talking about a clip for their first single. Things changed however, when the single got pushed back and I headed overseas for some travel. I thought I would have to forgo directing the clip until I pitched to them the crazy idea of them coming to me in London.
Luckily they went for it.
Q. What was the budget?
The budget ended up being $12k but that had to cover flights to and from London for the boys. So it was pretty lean. Considering we also had a three days shoot and some complex animation we really made the budget work for us.
Q. What were the limitations you faced with the production?
The only limitation was budget really. With music videos that's always the restriction. However, this was a different sort of clip. This clip was all about the process. It was about creating energy and mystery and London was our playground. So the only boundaries were our imaginations and what we could get away with by shooting on the fly in London. We had a crew of two and no shooting permits so we were pretty mobile! Often bigger crews can stifle creativity and slow you down. Don't get me wrong, having a big crew with a lot of toys to play with is fantastic but this clip didn't need that. This was an entirely new way of working for me.
Q. Who were your key collaborators?
My only collaborator was the DOP, David Hawkins. Dave had just moved to London so I was in luck as we were friends from Film School here in Sydney. I knew we would work well together and he would be relaxed with the very spontaneous nature of the shoot. Collaboration with the band was also very strong as we were all making things up on the fly. The clip was really a mixture of everyone's ideas. It was very fresh and very exiting and I really enjoyed the process.
Q. What was the process you took in producing the video?
As I mentioned, it was very organic. I pitched the idea, had a few conversations with the band and management, I sourced some locations in two days, they arrived in London, we began shooting. It was a little crazy. A lot of it was made up on the shoot. We shot over three days and it wasn't until the third day that I actually understood what it was we were doing! It had evolved throughout the process so by day three I was pretty focused on what we needed. The final day of shooting was all about filling in the gaps and getting the moments that I thought we were missing for the clip to work. Strangely, about 80% of the footage in the end clip is from that final day. It was as if the first two days were a rehearsal for us so that the idea could evolve.
We then had a week in the edit to piece it all together. I loved this process. My girlfriend and long term collaborator, Melanie Annan, and I cut the clip together on a laptop in our hotel room. Again, very low-fi but spontaneous and energetic. Perfect for this clip. Long periods of editing were broken up by long walks around Notting Hill which helped inspire us. A new location for us was invigorating and inspirational. Mel and I have worked together for years so we are good at supporting and challenging one another.
The style and tone sort of found itself really. After three days of shooting, however, I knew the basic structure of what I wanted the clip to be. We had options because of the two camera set-up and multiple shoot days so it was a great position to find ourselves in. The band provided some feedback, we made some tweaks and we then locked it off.
We then flew back to Sydney, handed the clip over to Chaotic Post and began the process of animating the Dangerous Twins. The guys at Chaotic did a great job at getting inside my head and discovering what it was that I wanted. Up until then nobody knew what the hell I was talking about! Even Dave and Mel were confused! Chaotic did a lovely job. The figures became mysterious and lurking. It gave the clip a nice ghostly quality.
Colourist, Trish Cahill, then put the finishing touches on the clip and we delivered the afternoon it went live.
Q. What was the turnaround?
It was pretty quick. We had three days pre-production. Three days shoot. Five days edit. Then two weeks for animation and post-production.
Q. Do you feel that the client understands the production process?
Nowadays, because of budgets, they have to. However, I still think there are unrealistic expectations placed on the filmmakers to deliver great quality on very small budgets and schedules. In a way, filmmakers have bought this situation upon themselves in this very competitive market. It is easy to over promise. It's always tough for the client to understand because it is not their field. However, it is up to us to communicate that to them and to let them see what is achievable. That's our job really. It's about collaborating with them as much as it is working with the band etc. I've worked with EMI before and can honestly say they are the best record label to work with. They are fun, supportive, collaborative and they understand the process.
Q. What did you shoot on? What lenses did you use?
We shot the clip using two Canon 5D MkII's for pretty much every set up. Dave was on the main camera. I was on the second. We had a bunch of lenses. Dave had some fixed primes and I had two L series zooms, 24-70 and 70-200. We were pretty well covered for what we needed. And of course the 5D's allowed us to be pretty inconspicuous as we ran round London.
The hand held nature gave us that great energy and the long lenses gave us that lovely 5D depth of field to play with.
Q. Have you worked with any of your crew previously?
Strangely, Dave and I had never worked together before. We have been close mates since film school but had never worked on a project together. After we graduated he buggered off to Melbourne so we were unable to collaborate. So strangely, our first project together was a music video in London!
Mel has cut 90% of all my music videos over the years as well as all of my short films. It was a lot of fun working together in a different country and trying something new.
I had previously worked with Chaotic but never in an animation capacity. So that was a great experience for me.
Q. If you had a chance to approach it again, what would you do differently?
My analytical nature made me try to break the clip down in pre and organise things too much. I can't help it ... I'm anal. However, the process and the clip worked much better when things were spontaneous. If I were to do it again, I would spend less hours in pre trying to nail down a concept. Easier said than done as that is the best place to always plan a shoot. But the nature of this clip was different. I would love to do more clips like this one if only to get me to chill out a little more! But it takes a lot of trust from the band, and of course, the label and management.