To see the longer films view here
What was the original brief from Absolut?
Sid Lee saw my tattoo film ‘Skin’ and wanted a similar approach stylistically in making some films about four artists they have collaborated with for Absolut – A different look at their lives other than straight up documentary.
Love the blue tone grade to bring all four films together. What other aspects of the production were you mindful of to give a coherence to the films?
I just made sure each film was genuine to each artist and that led everything. Other than that the first thing was to check Ryan Boucher over at Marshall Street was available as I can only work with him on projects like this. Then Richard Fearon at MPC smashed the grade for me as usual. Having my usual team is always important to me but this time more so. It’s just getting harder to do now as the huge commercial guys circle Ryan and Richard just finished Terry Gilliam’s new film. Next thing Laura my producer will be working for Tarantino and I’ll be back running at Black Island asking you if you want a coffee. It’ll be a good one though.
Did you work with the individual artists to create the relevant additional effects such as the tube train – or did you simply pay homage to their styles off your own back?
The artists had nothing to do with the creative on their own films. I took the job as I was very much into the challenge of making four different films that were very different in subject – yet felt they were a collection. Problem solving and cinematography are my thing in film making – and since this was a chance for a real good crack at more story telling stuff which I’ve been loving of late – it was something I grabbed with both hands.
You’re used to having considerable creative freedom directing music videos – how did the process of working with a commercial client differ?
It works so different. For example, the amount of times I have artists asking me for what I do, then when I do it the label change their mind thinking it’s too dark or too ‘much’ would shock you. They ask me to push my idea as far as I can so I do it and then the label says it’s been pushed too far. You have to laugh. With commercials they’re just a damn sight more organised and prescriptive which I enjoy. I was allowed to enjoy this one in particular however, as the creatives over at Sid Lee backed all of my ideas to the hilt. They were amazing with me as all of the post stuff was off script.
Any major headaches on the production – what were the biggest challenges and how did you resolve them?
Put it this way. Laura and the Sid Lee team Ezra, Justin and Janie should have several gold medals and a magnum of champagne. The production team were unbelievable pulling everything together with the artist and time restrictions we had…. really. One artist that will remain nameless walked up to Laura on the day of the shoot and told her we had them for “14 minutes” when we thought we had a 10-hour shoot day scheduled with them.
The subjects were all creatives in their own right, did that make it easier to film and work with them? Any particular one easier than the other?
Yoann was the hardest. Simply because it’s Yoann. I love the guy’s work and have followed him since his beginnings. It was the challenge that caused me to really want the job. He had really and truly blown up at the time I was shooting in every way as a bit of a genius in what he’s done. I make tunes like the guy and also was pitching on a John Legend job against him at the time of filming. It was pretty funny banter. So he was definitely the biggest challenge for me personally. The rest were easy to understand what their films should be and look like.
How long was the production and where did you shoot the subjects?
The production ended up being about a month, it was pretty much touch down, recce, shoot which isn’t an ideal way to direct but I made sure I found the best each city had to offer.
Yoann was in Munich, Aaron Kobin in London, Rafael Grampa in Sao Paolo, Yiquing Yin was just outside Paris.