With a reel that balances art commissions for the National Gallery alongside music promos for Mystery Jets and visual experiments for Fenech Soler, Tell No One have crept onto our radar with military stealth. We sent out a sonic pulse and got the bounce below.
Tell us about Tell No One – where and how did you meet? And how did you come to collaborate? Are you based in the UK?
We are London based but looking to work in France – and other places, if they’ll take us.
We’ve been friends since early teens and studied at the same university (London college of communication). We decided to collaborate whilst we was bored and broke.
Is there a story behind the name?
Ownership can be important but sharing and giving away ideas keeps you on your toes. With our early experiments it was like brainstorming in public and there was something satisfying in that.
Chronologically in what order did you release the films on your site?
We’ve put experiment numbers on most of our films, we upload them when we like something about them.
Love love LOVE your Fenech Soler Minotaur piece – what was the origin of that idea? It’s so dark. Yet kind of sexy…
Fenech Soler asked us to shoot a little something for them for the release of their new album. We shot it late at night in a very spooky scrap yard from the outskirts of London…
Your Mystery Jets promo uses some really elegant visual tricks and the pommel horse offset scene as a very eloquent solution to the challenge of shooting a performance video. Was this more of a technical shoot than Fenech Soler? The editing is fantastic!
There was a bit more to it. Hats off to our gymnast though, having to pommel his way through the entire shoot.
Forest takes the technicality of the Mystery Jets promo and blends in the consideration of light you showed in that piece and also Minotaur. Where did the devilishly simple idea come from?
Forest is a remake of one of our experiments ‘Seaweed’.
Lighting seems to play a very important role in your work… Is it something you consider in depth when concepting your films as a tool for setting tone and mood? It’s not something you see often with developing directors.
The aesthetics of our films are very important to us, we spend a long time discussing shots, what they mean, how they add to the story and whether there is there something more interesting we can try. Even with our experiments the visual quality have been important to us, very often spending time in Luke’s Dad’s studio, toying with the lighting to create something special.
How did you come to collaborate with Nick Knight? The piece shows an almost painterly technique in terms of the images you created.
Nick asked us to. He had just shot a photo story called Dynamic Blooms and wanted us to make a video sibling for it. We had spent many months in post on that film. It looks quite simple and natural on screen, but behind the film was a very long time designing every shot, practically tweaking pixels, developing an edit and designing the sound to create narrative and scope from what had begun as someone jumping on the spot. We were very exhausted by the end – as with most our films – but we think it pays off in the end.
Your Metamorphosis short is utterly beautiful – can you tell us how the commission came about and how the project evolved? How did you come to cast Anna Friel as a sort of Diana-esque goddess figure? And how were the National Gallery involved?
National Gallery wanted to promote their Titian Metamorphosis season this summer. Gerry Moira (The Creative Director for their advertising campaign) asked us to pitch on the project for a film, which was to retell the original Ovid poem to a modern audience. We had a great casting director on board who pitched the project to both Anna Friel and Ed Speelers. Luckily for us they digged the National Gallery and liked our stuff, so came onboard. Working with them was brilliant. Very talented actors.
How would you describe your own work? There’s a very powerful but understated sexuality the runs through a lot of what you do – both in terms of the images you craft and the tone you set.
Hard question! If there’s anything we do consistently, is to try and find a way to do something differently. I’m not sure we always achieve this, but we do try! We’re very passionate about what we do.
Part of our motto is doing things wrong, in order to find something new. Therefore we’ve made alot of bad films, many of which no one will get to see but us!
What’s next for you? Can you give us any teaser information about the commercial you’re working on at the moment?
An ad about a football – Tell No One style.
And we’ve just finished a fun project with Matthew Williamson and his team. A kind of dreamscape celebrating the last fifteen years of his brand.