My Video for ‘The 1970s’ by Paul Mosley

I made another video, this time for Paul Mosley, premiered by Folk Radio UK.

Paul asked me to make the visuals to accompany his beautiful song, ‘The 1970s’ from his album ‘You’re Going To Die!” From the first bar, it’s a show-stopping driving song that I’d put on a playlist next to ‘Thunder Road’ by Springsteen in a stuttering heartbeat, so I felt an immediate connection with it. That made the task of doing it justice a little disconcerting, but Paul had the core of a concept of what he was after and we worked it out from there.

Firstly, I filmed his band, The Red Meat Orchestra, as they rehearsed for the launch show for the album at a London studio. A photogenic bunch, they are, so this was an easy one!

Here’s a couple of my shots from the launch show, I was too busy with other things to shoot that night properly, but these give you a flavour…

Then, we arranged a location shoot in the Midlands for the following week. It’s a long song, I had over six minutes of story to tell, which was a fun challenge. Paul entertained the idea of making a single edit, but I think that would have been a shame & having seen the footage, I was convinced I could do the full song justice.

The lyrics really say it all. Sometimes, you just wanna sing along with the saddest song on midnight radio. Paul describes the song best himself, his words & the way his memories seem to work for him are so similar to mine. How thrilling to hear your own self described back to you. Paul says this stuff so we don’t need to.

“This whole album (‘You’re Going To Die!’) is about grief although it’s oddly up beat. Grief does funny things to your sense of time; lots of looking back but your memories are changed by the new knowledge of the loss. When I think of my mother’s life now, I think the heart of her story, when she was the most herself, is in the 1970’s when I was only small and my siblings were all at home. We often seemed to be in the car, at night, as a family. Somehow that’s the snapshot I have of her and us as our most together.
 
“Josienne Clarke is one of my favourite people. I wrote the part of “Delores’ in my folk opera ‘The Butcher’ especially for her and brilliantly she stuck around to be a full member of the Red Meat Orchestra alongside Jack Harris and ex-Mediaeval Baebes Esther Dee. ‘Sometimes you just want to sing along to the saddest songs on midnight radio’ felt like a very Josienne thing to sing – and as ever she brought an intelligent melancholy to it that I love.”

So, we needed to be moving. Reminiscing. Remembering. Not dwelling, stressing, or living in the past. A trip down memory lane, but with eyes facing forwards into the misty light, whatever it may bring. It’s a brave & bold song, firm, resigned & I wanted my video to do that, too.

So we got in a car and drove about ’til the light ran out & everyone went home. Here’s a couple of stills from the video, and then the main attraction.

I won’t analyse what it all means. Who is where & why. Who leaves & when. Where they are going. What they find when they get there. It’s just a journey. There is a reason & a destination, a point to it all. I hope it shows Paul’s vast internal well of humanity & the sheer size & weight of his beautiful soul.

You can stream ‘You’re Going to Die!’ here though I’d recommend buying it on Bandcamp here – if you’re quick, you might even get a free balloon like in the video! Are you team red or team yellow?

Thanks for reading, please do share, follow & ask me if you’d like to work together on whatever it is you are making, I would love to help.

My video for ‘Slender, Sad and Sentimental’

My latest video production was released into the world yesterday.

This one is for the new Josienne Clarke single, ‘Slender, Sad & Sentimental’ on Rough Trade Records. It’s a lurid & fun play on the self-referentiality in Josienne’s song. We see her in a series of strange scenarios, in each one, she’s watching herself in the others, reacting to what she sees. It was great fun to plan, film & edit. We still have the clouds, hanging up in our little house.

Those are the two pictures that the record company used to trail the video. The first was a shot of Josienne I took with the lightning tree and the second is a still from one of the scenarios. The song sort of explains why she’s sat in a crows nest that we made out of a builders rubble tub, cardboard & cotton wool.

Did you realise that the tree scene was a reference to a previous video of Josienne’s? Things go pretty wrong in the Fire & Fortune video. Thankfully, this time, all these years later, she has a fire extinguisher & a nice can of fizzy pop to cool her down! Things are looking up!

Here’s a gallery of the other stills from the video that I suggested could be used for the thumbnail. In the end, Rough Trade went with the crows nest. I think that was the right decision. Which one is your favourite?

We planned this for a couple of months, sketching out scenarios in pencil & paper, fleshing out the various scenarios and how they would relate to each other. My original concept was for us to see through Josi’s eye down the telescope, looking at herself from one place to another. I painted in a psychedelic kaleidoscope inside a toilet roll, and it’s the same telescope, but I couldn’t get it to look right under all the lighting conditions we would face, so in the end, you’ll just have to imagine what that would have looked like.

Interestingly, and this has been the subject of a furore of discussion on social media, it isn’t a toilet roll at all, despite my vast collection of those. I had been collecting them for this purpose, and now have hundreds, but it turned out that a standard Andrex size one was too short & a kitchen roll size one was too long to do the trick of the light I was aiming for. So, I purchased a card tube from hobbycraft that was just the right length. It was also slightly narrower & slightly heavier card. I know, you’re going to say, I could have cut one down. I tried that, but it messes with the integrity of the tube and anything that did that meant the paint didn’t look right. I had to cut it open to paint inside, and the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the join, fixed with duct tape. That was all part of why I could never get that shot to work. So, that’s the fascinating backstory of the card tube telescope.

Here’s the speech bubble from the ‘poet’ scene. Josi wrote it in sharpie & we still have it. It has all the lyrics to the song on. It’s still here, but I tore it a bit, taking it down at the end of the day.

It took a week of making the props & getting the right colour backdrops, cakes, balloons, etc, then we shot it in a day & a half in a village hall. We had two days planned, but thanks to careful planning & slick execution, it went almost perfectly & we finished early.

Here’s the video! This is the part of the article where you have read enough of my words that you get to watch it!

Here’s a couple more stills from the ‘Slender, Sad & Sentimental’ set, I love that sky & her beaming smile. She’s not acting, this was a hilarious shoot on a scorchingly hot day. Good times.

For all you technical folks, let me answer the FAQs…

I shot most of this video on a Canon 5D mkiii at 1080p / 24fps. I used a 24mm 1.4ii L lens for most of it. I think. I had my 85mm 1.2 L but I don’t think any footage from that made it in. The close ups from the dancing scene and the DJ footage is all iPhone XS matched at 1080p / 24fps. That garish pink light was what happened when a spinning disco light hit the lens just so. The iPhone is great at things like that, but the outdoor shot of the tree, for example, is pure Canon.

And here’s a still from the edit, putting things together in Premiere Pro.

Now, the song & video have been out for a day and folks seem to like it, which is very gratifying.

Visit http://www.josienneclarke.com for more of this, and don’t forget, preorder the album here.

Also, do get yourself a ticket to the Bush Hall London album launch party on November 19th. Josienne will be playing with a full band and believe me, you do not want to miss this rare show. It’ll be beautiful. Come say hello, tickets are here: https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/josienne-clarke-album-bush-hall-tickets/9714885

Thanks for reading, I hope you like what we made, tell your friends!

Shooting Bennerley Viaduct

I spent a long wet Sunday exploring the Iron Giant, Bennerley Viaduct, a spectacular, 1/4 mile long, 60 feet high disused wrought-iron railway viaduct in Ilkston, Nottinghamshire.

I was there with Kingsley Ravenscroft & Josienne Clarke, sort of location scouting and sort of shooting a music video I’m making for him. He’s a magician, you see. An actual one. He does magic, I mean. He thinks it’s stupid & hilarious but also real & will explain to you why & how it works. Kingsley is an enigma wrapped in a riddle hiding in plain sight behind a fallacy that even he doesn’t really believe & does not need to. Meet him, and it all makes more sense. He’s one of those people who it’s just good to have around. He asks little & gives a great deal & it’s a pleasure to make things with him. I believe him. Here’s a few random stills from the day.

There’s my new RoninM gimbal with the Canon 5d mkiii in it. First time I’ve used it on a shoot, and it was beautiful to use. I use it with a 4K monitor which means I can control so much more easily what I’m shooting. It was an exciting thing to use for the first time. It felt very creative, it suited my workflow well. The footage is something else. I’m very happy with what we shot, and we just need one more shoot to get this story told.

Here’s a couple of snazzy & garish iPhone snaps I grabbed.

And here’s a reflection of the star of the show:

We’re showing Kingsley as a disruptor of the strange topographies in which he finds himself, somehow fighting to affect change on his surroundings.

Our aesthetics have long been in a strange kind of sync, meeting perfectly at points every so often on a wild pulsating curve that stretches over the timeline of our lives, yawing off & on like a crashing helicopter. Having seen the raw footage I shot yesterday, that was one of the times when it all works, if a crashing helicopter could be said to be working, in any meaningful sense? Here he is, anyway, the assassin, the conjuror.

And here’s Josienne; she was on second unit/umbrella duties, see her carrying her rucksack & mine. She’s so inspiring to have around, too – there’s never anything that can’t be done, just a series of tiny surmountable things to figure out. I love working that way. Anything’s possible, if only we can think of it, which we can & usually do. Or not, and then we just stop and leave and thats fine, too. I shot this picture of her as she was waiting for one of the smoke bombs to clear. She’s so easy to do this to, but that doesn’t make it less satisfying.

Here’s a couple more stills from the day, this is the bridge that takes you over the railway tracks near the viaduct and that’s the evening canal that you walk alongside to get there.

I’ll leave you with this shot of me that Kingsley took of me. I can’t wait to show you what we made.