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3rd February 2015
Up to good tricks
Title of film: Trailer for Stealing Sheep album
Director: Abbie Stephens
Director Abbie Stephens manipulates images in a blaze of unexpected ways into a teaser for Stealing Sheep's upcoming album

You have a distinctive visual beat to your work – how would you describe your style of film making?

A lot of my films have a very graphic sensibility. I come at ideas from a conceptual angle and my graphic design background is evident in a strong aesthetic and compositions.

My ideas are really playful and have always been quite surreal. I really enjoy subverting the way we see the world and messing with normalities that we take for granted.

This year I’m interested in opportunities that allow me to take my keen graphic eye and apply it to more narrative-led projects. I currently have two such projects in development.

Please talk us through your creative process for your latest video for Stealing Sheep, where the surreal ideas came from and how you decided what effects to apply to them. Is there a mix of GIFs and vfx work here?

The brief was to create an abstract piece of film to act as a teaser for Stealing Sheep’s new album Not Real. I decided that the look of the video should be consistent with the album artwork, which had a really bright pop colour scheme, yet the visuals felt quite dark and a little surreal. The band’s limbs are draped over each other and you can’t tell which limbs belong to who. I took a lot of inspiration from this image. I lifted the same colour pallet and decided to work with hands and legs and to tamper with them in some way to make them feel “not real”. There was something really hypnotic about the track that the band wanted to use for the teaser. I wanted to bring an element of this to the visuals with repetitive loops and GIF style animation.

The girls had commissioned me to make the film after seeing my video for All We Are – Keep me Alive. (See in Related Content). And so the technique of tampering with the visuals became a natural progression from the effects in that video.

What were the major headaches of the production?

Actually this was a bit of a dream job. I was really inspired by the track and the album artwork and so the ideas for the video formed very organically. The band bought into the idea right away, with just a slight change in the direction of the narrative. The track that was selected for the teaser was called Greed, and so some of my original ideas were based around the idea of gluttony.

There were some other beautiful visuals that I had to scrap, but I’m sure I’ll work them back into another video somewhere down the line. I haven’t done my own effects in a little while and I really enjoyed the process. One of the most challenging effects was the many thumbs rotating over each other, mainly because of the many mask layers and organising the layers so they move over each other smoothly.

Did you work as a one-woman band doing the photography, filming and post or did you collaborate with a team?

I normally work with a team of about 10-15 people on my video shoots. This was a bit of an exception with just a two-person team. My friend Saulo Jamariqueli was the DOP, while I directed, art directed and did the final graphics effects. I also got a beautiful grade and sound design, both done at Gramercy Park Studios. Because of the awkward timing of this job over the Christmas period and budget restriction, I decided to do most of the job myself. And in this case it was completely manageable and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Are you signed to a production company?

No not currently, I’m in discussions. I’ve been going it alone for for the best part of four years. Last year was incredibly busy and it’s definitely time for me to get a support network around me.


Abbie Stephens