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20th September 2012
Mr Musil
Title of film: Twin Shadow - Five Seconds
Director: Keith Musil
Docu-style branded content and fantasy gang narratives - we look at the two sides of the shiny penny that is Keith Musil

Seems like we’ve developed something of motorbike fetish at OnePointFour lately… Hot on the heals of the bike builders film by Darren Statman and Watermill’s Old Indians Never Die we’re sticking with the theme to deliver a throbbing pair of promos from Keith Musil (see Related Content).

The LA-based director crossed our radar off the back of a band recommendation – Twin Shadows – and his videos for Five Seconds and recently Patience had us clicking “contact” on his webpage. Based on a short story of gang warfare by the band’s frontman – George Lewis Jr – the two promos bookend nicely to take us into a whirlwind road movie slash performance extravaganza.

Prepare to tap along to some of the catchiest pop-rock riffs we’ve heard this year.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into directing?

I’d always loved movies growing up but didn’t really get into film until college. I ended up going to film school at San Francisco State where I was forced to write more theory papers than an English major. I ended up writing, shooting and editing a lot of short projects digitally outside of class because the production classes at that university were extremely slim and impacted.

Are you self taught or did you study film?

I ran from San Francisco as soon as I graduated and moved to Los Angeles where I currently live and work. Because I ended up writing, directing, shooting and editing my own projects in school I was able to take on a variety of random production jobs to keep myself afloat financially. I slowly started directing branded content for the web and television. I then took a stab at a music video for the band called Rainbow Arabia and it ended up doing really well (I think it got top 10 music videos of the year from pitchfork). That was the start of me getting out there a little bit.

Tell us about your collaboration with George Lewis Junior on the story for your Twin Shadows FIVE SECOND promo. How did you come to work with him on the project?

George Lewis had written a short called “Night of the Silver Sun” with a friend of his from New York. The idea was to somehow apply that short story across two music videos. George’s label 4AD, sent the full story out as a brief to a bunch of music video reps. I received the story through my music video rep Danielle Hinde and wrote a simple treatment that basically outlined how I would stylistically approach the potential project. George liked my approach to the post apocalyptic genre and my previous work so I got the job. We then worked together to condense his short story into a music video.

The story flows through into your second promo for Twin Shadow – Patience. There’s more of a performance dimension to this promo though – can you tell us why you wanted to take this one in a slightly different direction?
I was extremely happy with the way “5 Seconds” came out, that type of stylized narrative video is what I do best. George wanted “Patient” to be more of a pop video designed to off-set “5 Seconds.” At the end of the day I lost a lot of control over “Patient” in post and to be honest It’s not a video that represents me as a director. However, I had a wonderful time working with George and we became friends through the process. Many times musicians and labels forget that video directors are artists as well…George respected that notion.

Are there more films to come in the series?

I’d love to do another video with Twin Shadow but there are no plans that I know of to do a third.

Against these more recent promos you’ve got other pieces like your Paul Frank and Killers videos that are much more naturalistic in their style – where do you see your work developing in terms of style? Do you have a sense of where you’d like your work to sit or are you still finding your footing aesthetically?

Yeah, my work varies aesthetically because I do a ton of commercial and branded work as well. I think my voice is strongly imprinted across my music video work but not so much with the stuff that pays the bills (commercial work). However, recently I’ve been getting approached to write on a lot of progressive commercial boards that line up nicely with my aesthetic so I’m excited for a future in commercial land. My aesthetic footing will definitely be sharply defined with the long form narrative work that I plan on getting into very soon. The feature world is the goal.

Where do you look for inspiration? Are you more of a movies or galleries person?

I get my inspiration through lots of outlets…Life, photography, articles, books and movies. I’m a big fan of John Carpenter, Joe Dante and David Cronenberg’s early science-fiction movies. Lately, I’ve been interested in specific scenes rather than full films. My current goto is the opening of “The Shining.” However, I’ve been counting the days for PT Anderson’s new movie, “The Master” to come out.


Keith Musil