I came, I witnessed and experienced a shoot with you – Trickle for Denai Moore. I thought shoots were meant to be stressful and supercharged but this was fabulously good fun and really relaxed. Are you this calm and sorted on all shoots?
It’s funny because I am so un-calm. I think directing is the first thing I’ve done where I’ve felt calm – maybe not so much before the shoot but on the day I feel really quite OK! I think it’s also really important to be calm as a director as everyone is waiting for you to come up with the answer. If the director is stressed the crew is stressed. I was also lucky to have a lovely, talented crew that made me feel safe.
Can you please describe the technique used to make Trickle look like a beautiful old oil painting?
That really was the idea so I am glad you said that. I am not very technical which is why I love working with amazing DPs such as James Blann. I just said to him, ‘I want it to look like a renaissance painting’ and he did just that. Beautifully. I am really into art department too, we ended up spending hours changing things around for that wide shot because I was looking at everyone in the frame making sure every aspect looked right, colour and movement needed to feel painterly, I moved the cast around a lot too – it was really important we got that shot right as it was the spine of the film.
What were the main challenges of the production?
The big challenge was the amount we wanted to achieve in one day. The tracking shot took ages because I needed to get that right and it took longer than we’d hoped – but we also had to shoot the stop frame animation on the same day + the performance/cutaways. The entire thing was hard to squeeze into one day but we did it because every single person on set was absolutely brilliant and wanted to make it happen.
Your films – Georgia’s Feel it, Salute’s Storm and Denai’s Trickle – are all very different videos. Do you have a regular creative process coming up with your treatments and ideas and can you please describe that.
It’s hard to say how, sometimes a track will make me think of something, sometimes I write when I am sad and try and make it into something positive, sometimes I look at a funny picture and want to write something around that. Ideas are always the first thing for me, next is – how do I portray that idea in a beautiful and meaningful way. I am really inspired by Jean Paul Goude, Guy Bourdin and interior design throughout history. Art department is something I find really interesting because I think you can tell a story with an environment, I think that is an evolving theme in my work at the moment.
Do you storyboard videos in detail or do you shoot and evolve the narrative considerably in the edit?
My mind is chaos, so I like to storyboard so that I feel secure and clear on what I am doing. On a shoot day I like to allow for some time to play around and I love to have a rough paper edit, but to see what the editor thinks first as often they will have even better ideas as to how it could work.
May we have a potted history of what led you to directing?
I used to be an advertising creative, so I’ve been on lots of shoots and began thinking ‘I could do that’.
Would you like to direct commercials – if so any particular brands you hunger after?
Yes I would. I grew up in advertising so it’s something I would love to do. The dream would be to shoot one of those boxing day DFS style discount sofa ads – but on acid and even cheesier. Brands I like that have made fun ads in the past – Vita Coco, Harvey Nicks, IKEA, Orangina, Chambord.
What were the key lessons learnt along the way?
Believe in your vision. That is something Kim Gehrig said that really stuck with me, if you’re a director you have to of course listen to others but also trust yourself. I also think it’s really important to be nice to people, which sounds a bit fake and cheesy but it’s really true – I’ve worked with so many arseholes in my life and it just takes the fun out of everything and I don’t think people respect or like them.
Please briefly describe your childhood.
I grew up in Moss Side Manchester, I moved to London with my dad when I was 12, went to BRIT school and studied art. My dad and I were in a bubble together for a long time, he always told me to work hard and know that I can be anything I want to be, he is an amazing man and inspires me a lot.
My mum is also wonderful and has spent her life helping people from working in prisons teaching art to setting up centres for kids excluded from school. I feel like my parents have influenced me and my work a hell of a lot. I haven’t had it easy, but I consider myself to be privileged as I have a super supportive family. I have two little sisters, Beri and Millie, who are completely different and utterly brilliant. They always help on shoots, one day I’ll be able to pay them…
Any personal work on the go at the moment?
I have written a load of things, but at the moment I’m focussing on two shorts – one called ‘aspirational double glazing’ and the other is about a Jamaican shop owner that is severely depressed. I am currently on the hunt for funding which is really hard because I am rubbish at filling out forms.
Denai Moore, Trickle
Production Company: Somesuch
Head of Music Videos: Hannah Turnbull-Walter
Executive Producer: Denna Cartamkhoob
Label: Because Music
Commissioner: Jane Third
Director: Raine Allen-Miller
Director of Photography: James Blann
Producer: Siobhán Daly
1st AD: Steve Wingrove
2nd AD: Dorothy Allen-Pickard
Runner: Kaelan Ratcliffe
Runner: Millie Allen
Runner: Trey Robinson
Runner: Benn Capon
1st AC: Toby Goodger
2nd AC: Jomar O’Meally
DIT: Matthew Hicks
Grip: Andy Young
Jib Operator: Simon Priestman
Gaffer: Ben Skyrme
Electrician: Joey Seery
Electrician: Peter Kehoe
Spark Trainee: Tina Georgieva
Balloon Op: Dan Carter
Art Director: Hatty Ellis-Coward
Art Assistant: Alicia Howlett
Animator: Joana Silva
Animation Assistant: Leona Kadijevic
Costume Designer: PC Williams
Styling Assistant: Misty Griffiths
Hair & Make Up Artist: Paula Valencia
Artist MUA: Christina Nwabugo
Movement Director: Hayley Hill
Hair & Make Up Assistant: Dominika Kasperowicz
Manicurist: Jessica Summer
Editor: Matt Newman
Grade: Jack McGinty at Time Based Arts
Post-Production: Time Based Arts
Director: Raine Allen-Miller
Production co: Somesuch
Producer: Elly Camisa
Exec Producer: Hannah TW
Exec Producer: Tom Gardner
DOP: Deepa Keshvala
1st AD: Chris Riley
Art Director: Jen Gardiner
Costume Designer/Stylist: Verity May Lane
Choreographer: Enzinne Asinugo
Hair & Make-up: Ashlene Scott
Manicurist: Imarni Nails
BTS Photographer: Edwin Forty Lewis
1st AC: Jonny Lewis
Gaffer: John Wenman
Runner: Millie Allen
Runner: Katherine Bampton
Runner: Amber Laudner
Manager: Will Frost
A&R: Sahil Varma
Edit: Final Cut
Editor: Leila Gaabi
Producer: Laura Harris
POST PRODUCTION: TIME BASED ARTS
Colourist: Jack McGinity
Producer: Jo Chounta, Sam Napper
Exec Producer: Tom Johnson
VFX: Stephen Grasso