A couple of months ago I nipped up to Scotland to shoot a new music video for indie folk band The Low Anthem with End of the Road Films.
Back in 2009 I worked on the animated video for ‘Charlie Darwin’; building sets and doing the odd bit of animating. That video came out very nicely, so I was eager to work with the band again, this time directing along-side Glenn and Simon.
The song, ‘Boeing 737’ is the first single off their new album Smart Flesh, and is based around an imaginary meeting with Philippe Petit in a bar at the top of one of the Twin Towers.
After first listening to the track, Simon came up with the image of high-wire walkers pacing through trees, birdlike in their appearance, stalked by men with axes below. Ben liked the idea, but wanted the axe-men to have more of a backstory. We chatted about the idea a bit more, and then I went off to draw up a storyboard.
I thought it would be interesting to imagine a world where tight-rope walkers were a species -indigenous to certain areas – who were hunted and sold on to circuses. Our axe-men would be from a destitute circus, who had worked their previous walkers to death and decided to catch their own this time (hoping to cut out the hunter’s fee).
We got Leila Watts on board again as production designer, so she got straight to work on the bird costumes. Most of the circus men’s costumes were borrowed from a theatre production my parent’s had been working on, while other bits were also made by Leila – for example both clown ruffs were made by hand.
For this video we also brought in a wonderful DOP, Pablo Rojo Guadarrama. This was my first time not shooting my own work, and Pablo did an incredible job (far better than I ever could have), along with 1st and 2nd AC’s, Thor Eliasson and Poom Saiyavath.
If you ever get the chance to work with any of them I would seriously recommend it, and hope to do so myself very soon.
We also had the opportunity to shoot on the new RED – The Mysterium X. This is the same camera ‘The Social Network’ was shot on last year and it captures a ridiculous amount of image data. That meant a lot when it came to grading the video, but also allowed us to shoot later in the day as the light began to fade. In fact some of my favourite shots in the video were captured just before dusk, as the light turns silver.
Of course you can’t have a video about tight-rope walkers without… well… tight-rope walkers.
Fortunately, we had some of the best out there; Jade Kindar-Martin, and his wife Karine Mauffrey. Both had previously worked as part of Cirque du Soleil and Jade has broken Guiness World-Records on the high-wire. They were brilliant to work with, bravely facing the freezing Scottish weather in little more than leotards, and still giving beautiful performances.
For one shot we had planned to digitally add the falling figure of a walker, not imagining it would be possible to do in reality. That was until we discovered that Karine was in fact a professional stunt woman and would be up for doing in on a harness. Brilliant! One simple wire removal later and we have an absolutely stunning shot.
Okay, before I rattle on any more, here’s the final video. Have a look if you haven’t already, and if you have… maybe refresh your memory.
But what’s that I hear you ask? Who were those dashing circus men?
Well, from left to right; Charles Wemyss, Jimmy, Jason Lehmer, Tommy and Diego Cazzetta.
Diego and Jason have worked with us on videos before, building sets, and are part of the team behind End of the Road festival. We figured it was time to stop wasting their good looks behind the camera, and thrust them into the lime-light.
The woodland we shot in actually belongs to Charles’ family, while Jimmy and Tommy are the past and current generation of groundskeepers.
They all graciously agreed to try their hands at acting, and it turns out they’re pretty damned good at it. For such charming individuals, they manage to come together into a pretty nightmarish troupe.
One last thing before I go. I’m always impressed by how close to the initial storyboards our video’s come out. So here, mostly for my own entertainment, but maybe for yours too, it a short comparison of shots.