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16th May 2013
Inner life
Title of film: Duke Dumont - Need U
Director: Ian Robertson
One year out of university Ian Robertson animated his way into our psyche with his first music video, now he has us dancing to his live-action film for Duke Dumont

You beavered away for eight weeks on a small budget with lo-fi equipment in your mum’s barn making the stop-frame video for Delta Heavy’s track Get By. Now you’ve completed a new film for London based DJ/Producer, Duke Dumont which is on a different scale altogether. It feels big budget, it’s live-action in a sunny location, and it features a great cast. So how come?

Ministry of Sound liked my idea of a man swallowing a stereo and suggested we shoot in LA. That sounded glamorous at first, then I realised I knew no-one over there, but producer whizz Sarah Tognazzi flew over with me and made it all less scary. The casting was amazing fun. Rique, who played our downbeat lead, was second in and nailed the melancholy. We had so many funny actors/dancers to choose from for the supporting roles.

We shot it in just over two days on a RED Scarlet and beautiful old cine lenses, courtesy of DP Cale Finot. We spent most of the shoot laughing at Rique squirming in more and more uncomfortable situations. The cast and crew in LA have a fantastic ‘can-do’ attitude and they’re highly efficient. From getting the script green-lit to releasing the finished film was only 14 days. The commissioner said this was the fastest music video turn around she had witnessed.

The shift to live-action felt completely natural as that’s where I’ve always wanted to be. Luckily the commissioner, Caroline Clayton, was willing to take a punt on a live-action newbie and this was never an issue.

Did you work on the post or did you collaborate?

Thomas Grove Carter at Trim did a brilliant job in the edit, bringing loads of great ideas and solutions. It was my first time directing an editor and I loved it. However, it did feel strange when Tom was putting the assembly together and I was just sitting at home thinking, shouldn’t I be doing something right now?

Are we right about the bigger budget?

The budget was about 18 times bigger than my last video. This sounded like a lot of money to me, but in reality it still felt like a shoestring. Line producer Paul Bock pulled a LOT of favours, most notably getting us into an amazing hospital set. Everyone was working on reduced rates but totally threw all they had at the project, for which I’m very grateful for.

What were the main challenges and how did you resolve them?

Settling on the script was a challenge. I wanted to make the film about a woman pregnant with a stereo but this seemed to gross people out. However, I’m totally chuffed with the final script, mainly because it meant we could work with Rique, our pitch-perfect lead.

What’s next?

I just signed to Colonel Blimp in London, which I’m very excited about. I’m pitching on lots of music videos and they have a fantastic animation department so there’s a chance I’ll return to stop-motionanimation (but hopefully not in my Mum’s barn this time.)


Ian Robertson