Build Me Up is a movingly intimate portrayal of the three Mays brothers, who reveal themselves in the film with refreshing honesty and little hype. Please tell us how you met them and how you won their confidence over?
I met the Mays brothers prior to this project while doing some street casting for a Calvin Harris video. We met up again, smoked some blunts and began to make friends with them. They have a very powerful presence, it’s what immediately attracted me to working with them. So when this came up we already had a bit of a rapport with them.
The confidence thing is all them. I didn’t coach them at all, they just exuded tremendous confidence as long as we kept them in their element. They are kings of their neighborhood and needed little to no convincing to make a film about them. The effort was spent navigating their real life, finding the things that worked so I could get the best performances for what we needed.
How did you find shooting in black and white, were there new aspects to consider as color film is usually your preferred choice isn’t it? Was it shot on digital or film this time?
Evan Prosofsky is largely responsible for black and white choice and we shot actually black and white 35mm film. We wanted to capture images with simplicity. We wanted it to feel big and rich but without any real aesthetic choices or style. Black and white gives you the one choice, makes it simple and unassuming. It’s pretty amazing what happens to a scene when captured with black and white chemicals.
Did you collaborate closely with Raffertie on the film? Was it tricky balancing the voice-over narrative of the brothers without diminishing the music track?
We did a bit towards the end, Ben was super trusting and let me experiment with the track, and when I came back with some unplanned voice over he had a great idea to compose some music for the parts where the song had a natural break. It happened very naturally and I think it added a strange documentary feeling to it that was totally unintentional, it just evolved.
I’ve just finished co-directing a video with Rihanna for her single Pour It Up, it’s wildly different from Raffertie, it’s a super glossy pop video with strippers. I got to work with Dion Beebe, so that was really exciting for me. Next up for me is hopefully some more interesting projects and then some free time to enjoy the birth of my son due in October.