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2nd June 2014
Profile: Dimitri Basil
Title of film: Vance Joy, Riptide
Director: Dimitri Basil
Styley. Funny. An original voice. What more do you want? We talk with New director Dimitri Basil, currently in Sydney, about to go global

You’ve recently signed to HSI in London – have you moved from Sydney and are now based in Europe or are you long-distance treating on work? 

At the moment I’m treating long distance while in the process of relocating to Los Angeles.

A brief history please of what has led you to this point in your career?

I wanted to be a musician so I quit school when I was 13.  On the last day, my parents told me to do everything I was too scared to do, and so I did. It was great.

The day finished with me standing up during my least favorite class, and saying, “This doesn’t make sense, I quit”. I walked out of class and dad came to pick me up. While he drove I told him everything. He laughed all the way home.

I wish I could do it again; I might have to wait for my children to go through the whole thing again.

I also wish I had quit film school too but I was stuck with a student visa at the time. When I did graduate it was almost impossible to get a music video so I had to fake a production company, website, and agent/rep. It helped that he, the fictional agent, wrote only good things about me.

As soon as I had the fictional facade and an email with a fancy name, I managed to trick a few record labels.

After a few clips I got comfortable with a system that allowed me more freedom while shooting. I avoided large crews and worked only with a skeleton group of artist and actors. We are now a pretty solid crew.

After shooting “Foreign Language” for Flight Facilities we got a few key people interested in helping us with a feature film. Since then, we’ve been focused on developing a couple of feature films while shooting smaller music video projects in the meantime.

Does your Colombian heritage influence your work and in what way?
More than my nationality/heritage, it was mainly my parents and upbringing.  We lived an hour away from the city surrounded by mainly forest. We had a pirate Dalmatian, crazy neighbors that arguably will see floating lights every night. My parents had a whole archive of art house movies and a collection of the coolest books. I barely got to see the city; it was a pretty fun childhood.

What “research” informs your highly-stylised work? Movies, tv, books, art, life?

I think because of the internet and blogs, it’s easy to catch yourself heading in the same direction as other visual artists. Lately, I’ve been researching in bookstores and curated video stores. I think obscure sources of inspiration give you perspective on your work and current trends.

Do you sketch or write notes about ideas?

Sometimes I do, but I usually loose them.

Do your narratives evolve from working with the bands or generally are you given creative freedom?

Most of the time I am given creative freedom. What usually ends up happening is that I go off the grid and come back with a final music video a couple of weeks later.

Do you collaborate with a regular team?

I do now! I work with a team of six friends.

I used to produce, shoot and edit everything on my own with my only main collaborator being Laura Gorun. She is a shape shifter. One minute she will be handling the wardrobe or makeup, then she will shift over to checking the aperture, and finally she will jump in front of the camera.

I personally find that the classical film crew structure doesn’t really work to create great personal films on a budget. In my opinion skeleton crews and clever scheduling are the key. I think the transition to bigger projects meant that we had to grow and find a balance between efficiency and creativity. Being six now, we have worked out a nice system for shooting big and small projects alike.

Editing is key to your work, with cleverly cut visuals lining up with the soundtracks.  How does this creative process work?
We approach every project differently, however it is the music that dictates the cuts and movements so when it comes to editing we stick to that.

Your music videos could double as a fashion shoot – would you like to direct commercials and content as well? 

My main interest is in movies and music videos. I think the fashion aesthetic is a phase and I’ll continue on to making films. I’ll probably move away from that or at least I think I will.

Vance Joy, Riptide  
Producer: Melisa Lawlor/ Raex Murillo
Director: Dimitri Basil
Co - Director: Laura Gorun
Art Director: Dominique Basil