This is a big slick production from your earlier more graphic work. How has the transition been from working on your own work to creating videos with a production company and label? How has your process changed?
The transition has been nice and smooth – we love it. Things are just a lot more easier now. We used to produce everything as well, so simply that is a huge load off our backs! Collaboration has really allowed us to build and form great relationships with the people we work with, and on top of that, create work on another level from our DIY back ground. Our process is a lot more thorough now, but the core of it hasn’t changed: think of an idea that excites us, figure out how to achieve whatever we are trying to do, and make it happen.
Please tell us all about the production, the main challenges and how you dealt with them.
The idea of collaborating with Foster the People all started about six months ago. Saul Levitz, one of the commissioners at Sony, set up a meeting in NY with the lead vocalist, Mark. It was really cool. Mark played almost the entire album for us and we discussed what we saw visually for it. Coming of Age 80s vibe immediately struck us, and then we started talking about nostalgia and how we could convey that. Mark and Saul then kept stressing the words “iconic” and “timeless,” which really resonated with us and inspired us to do something simple but memorable in the performance aspect of the video.
We came back with this treatment almost right away, and Saul told us everyone was feeling it. Then, two to three months went by… We pretty much gave up on the job until Saul finally called us around the end of October to say that it was on.
We flew to LA a week later and banged it out on a crazy three-day shoot. We shot it all on 16mm with Shawn Kim, our DP. Working with Shawn was one of the best experiences we had because he was really on the same wave length as us. He was down for some grit, some total run and gun stuff and we loved that. We really got creative together and it was super fun watching Shawn execute everything exactly how we wanted everything to be.
We ran into some challenges obviously, like our motorcycle battery dying, shooting the night motorbike scenes without a helmet or permit, etc, but nothing too insane. Think we felt most stressed when our lead mascot character kid, Leaf, almost had to back out due to not having appropriate paperwork to act (he’s 14).
Somehow that worked out and we’re glad it did because he is excellent. Speaking of the cast, the casting process was hectic with about 200 auditions + 50 callbacks to sit through. The rigorous process definitely paid off though, as all actors we ended up casting were outstanding.
Something interesting about one of the cast members: the girl sitting on the couch is Sean Penn’s daughter. That was cool to think about.
Are you still editing your own work now that you’re shooting more live action?
Yes. Actually, for the first time ever, we attempted to work with an editor on this project. Unfortunately we just weren’t 100% happy with the outcome so we scrapped that idea and edited the project on our own. We then decided that we’d like to edit our own projects for as long as we can. It feels special to be hands on and mark your own personal stamp on something you care about. As stressful as it may be at times, there are some really inspiring moments in the hands-on editing process.
Where are you based now and are you working outside of America at all? Who are you signed with, abroad too?
We are still based in NY, but now with the support of the lovely LEGS Media team (welcometolegs.com). They’re like fam. We are starting to get project briefs from abroad too, mostly the UK, and we work out of FRIEND. Outside of the US & UK, we are signed to Henry de Czar in France (https://www.henry.tv), and Diktator in Sweden. Everyone should check out Diktator. Our friend Tim Erem, who is also a director, co-founded it and it’s really quirky and cool. Almost all the directors there are Swedish, but apparently we are honorary Swedes.