As an integrated creative team at Wieden and Kennedy London, your online portfolio is stacked with ideas from shearing sheep and knitting jumpers during the NZ Rugby World Cup to commissioning music to listen to on the Gatwick Express. Is this your first directing job together? And what led you to directing this music video for Khruangbin?
We’ve worked together for over three years on a lot of interesting projects but this is the first time we’ve directed anything for ourselves. We work with Laura at WK and it all came about when she mentioned that her band needed a promo for their new single. We love her music so we jumped at the chance and put together treatments for two films the same day. Thankfully she loved them and the finished film is really close to the storyboards of one of the treatments that we presented to her.
Are vfx and technical wizardry at the forefront of your minds when you are thinking up concepts? For instance, how did the surreal narrative for The Infamous Bill come about?
The narrative developed quite quickly in our heads. Khruangbin are from Texas and the song was about an outlaw cowboy called ‘The Infamous Bill’, so we felt very strongly that we should stay true to these roots of the band and the song. For us, the opportunity was in finding a new way to show a Western rather than writing a new one. We wanted to play with the clichés like a sheriff, bank robbing, gambling and brothels, and not just repeat them and once we’d come up with the idea of whipping objects as a narrative device, we knew we were onto something. But we couldn’t have done it without the wizardry of Time Based Arts who went above and beyond to make it all look so polished.
What were the main challenges of the shoot and production?
Timing was our biggest challenge. We didn’t know if it was all going ahead until the Wednesday afternoon before the Saturday shoot. We filmed the whole thing in a day, which was 11 set ups and brought a lot of logistical challenges. We knew we had to find someone who could do a great job with the props and a really good DOP that knows high-speed film and the difficulty it brings with lighting so we could concentrate on making it work as a film.
Did you use a Phantom or some other marvellous, slow-mo machine?
Love high speed lent us a Phantom Miro, which meant we could capture lots of beautiful detail. We used different frame rates to get the best from each object that was whipped by our expert.
Was it an easy edit? Or was there a lot of rearranging of scenes to marry up with the music?
Filming everything in a day meant every shot mattered. We demanded a lot from the crew to make sure that we had enough footage to make it brilliant. We got to know the editor Matt very well over a few late night sessions. Originally we had a very linear narrative in mind but there was an obvious A, B, A, B construct in the song that we embraced.
Did other directors direct your branded content projects – or was it down to you two to draw up the storyboards or shots lists and effectively direct the work?
It’s been different for different projects and different directors but we’re always very involved. For example, we didn’t fly the helicopter over the O2 but we wrote the scripts and did the storyboards for the ad. Some teams like to give a script to a director and let them get on with it but we like to work collaboratively alongside them. That’s been the most fruitful method for us so far.
Is directing a natural progression for you both? What next?
We really enjoyed it. It was great to be in charge of every part of the process – from the initial concept to the final post-production. We don’t want our careers to be mutually exclusive – neither advertising nor directing – because what you learn about one you can apply to the other. We love working in digital, social, film and product innovation so it’s important for us to not be put into a box. We don’t want to be a “digital team” or a “TV team” or just “directors”. It’s mixing and blending these things that excites us. Whatever we’re working on.