Darcy, how did the visual narrative evolve from Wally De Backer’s track Easy Way Out?
Its been a crazy evolution, and a unusually long gestation period. We played with several ideas of being ‘locked in routine’ including a hedonistic lifestyle of a rockstar in which Wally got laid, snorted cocaine, and had wild parties. It would have been a very different feel, and I’m glad we took the road we did. It enabled us to integrate our animated skills, which is something many studios just dont have the experience in.
Listening to the words you could have opted for a fairly serious route but this is so funny – did you want it to be humorous from the outset?
I don’t think it’s ‘wet your pants funny’ but I always intended to walk the tightrope between the melancholic undertones of the track and the cartoonistic, exaggerated actions that tie in with that. What I wanted to do was create a larger than life animated take on reality… whilst maintaining somewhat realistic and understated animated elements.
You worked together with Wally on an earlier track of his, the Eyes Wide Open music video – has there been an on-going creative conversation since then?
Yeah, absolutely. Wal sent me the majority of the album well in advance. It’s actually quite weird having to unlearn many of the lyrics now that the songs are finished. Wally has been a fan of our stuff since our involvement in that, as we’re one of the only stop motion studios operating in Australia willing to do music video stuff. The others, and there are only a few – purely operate for financial gain. Our heart’s in the art.
The video for Eyes Wide Open is nearly all animation and vfx work whereas there’s a lot of in camera work in Easy Way Out – stop frame, special effects, live action – it’s all there. Did you have a clear idea of the techniques you wanted to use from the start?
Visually, I wanted to cram in as much visual trickery as possible, without it ever being front and centre. I’m a huge believer of the in camera solution and have long had an obsession with stop motion, but the piece really came into its own when resident Vis FX wizard Andrew Goldsmith and I started experimenting. It wasn’t long before we were creating some pretty astonishing stuff, some of which we would often only begin when it was almost off screen.
So many of the elements in the clip, you take for granted – or simply dont see on first watch. But when you see cockroaches crawling, coffee spilling onto the plate and the frame burning to white at the end of the clip – you start to comprehend the sheer amount of work that’s gone in and wonder how the hell these things were actually accomplished.
I approached this clip with only one golden rule: Nothing should be created in a computer. All of the elements were created in camera, then masterfully assembled by the wizard. We animated the plasticine blood, the cat, the flames, the smoke – all in stop motion with a motion control set up. Andrew then composited all these elements together.
Eyes Wide Open was partly my concept, partly Brendan Cook’s. Wally liked both of our ideas – so decided to merge them. I had the idea of these gangly boat creatures – pulling up buckets of water to ensure their clay faces didn’t dry and crack. We were in charge of the stop motion elements, Brendan was in control of the CG environments in which they wandered. It was an interesting collaboration in the end… but it was Brendans choice to take a more VFX approach to that one. I always look to create in camera solutions where possible- its just what I personally dig.
Was it big budget work or has this been a labour of love?
When a production is nine months of work and your studio space is entirely consumed by the small house that you’ve built in it – it’s impossible for it not to be a labour of love. The fridge on set was my actual fridge repainted, the bed on set was mine when I was 12 – so much of what you see on screen was sacrificed or destroyed in the end. Love is all about sacrifice – or so I’m told.
Incidentally how long have you been directing?
Five years or so – but I really only consider the last couple to be decent. I’m getting to a comfortable place where I feel I can start creating some magic…
Goyte: Easy Way Out
Director: Darcy Prendergast
Directors of Photography: Andrew Goldsmith & Jeremy Blode
VFX Director: Andrew Goldsmith
Animators: Darcy Prendergast, Seamus Spilsbury
Assistant Animators: Josh Thomas, Jeremy Blode, Michael Greaney, Sam Lewis, Andrew Goldsmith
Wardrobe: Paige Prendergast
Lighting: Shelley Farthing-Dawe, Andrew Goldsmith, Jeremy Blode
Motion Control: Glenn Anderson
Art Direction: Darcy Prendergast
Editor & Colourist: Andrew Goldsmith
Rotoscoping: Andrew Goldsmith, Josh Thomas
Sound: Ben Matthews
Model Makers: Michael Greaney, Josh Thomas, Benjamin Aguesse
Goyte: Somebody I Used To Know
Directed, produced and edited by Natasha Pincus
Body art by Emma Hack
Cinematographer and colourist: Warwick Field
Scenic artist: Howard Clark
Key grip: Rob Hansford
Assistants: Rose Cidoni, Claire Leighton, Rob Murray
Original artwork by Frank De Backer
Goyte: Eyes Wide Open
Director: Brendan Cook
Character Design & Animation: Darcy Prendergast
3D Design & Animation: Jeremy Bianco
2D Design and Compositing: Jeremy Bianco, Brendan Cook, Darryn Rogers
Timelapse Photography: Enrique Pacheco, Nick Reygaert, Brendan Cook, Darryn Rogers
Cinematography: David Wakeley, Enrique Pacheco