It took me completely by surprise, I fell into the entrapment. What was the thinking behind your narrative?
Fantastic, it worked then!
I started with the question: how do you make people care about your video? In the age of the internet anything seems to go. Videos can be controversial and shocking or just purely bizarre or beautiful, and they don’t necessarily have to make sense. So, in collaboration with the band, I came up with a set of vignettes that attempts to tick these boxes in order to elicit an emotional response from the viewer.
We then threw in an added meta curveball layer by deconstructing what you’re seeing within the video itself, to the point where we’re essentially presenting a step-by-step guide on how to make a video that people will care about and therefore will want to share online.
We’re initially presenting it as a recognisable sub-genre of the medium – beautifully shot, emotive but seemingly unconnected, vignette-style scenes – and then we begin to strip away at the artifice to twist and subvert it.
What was the initial brief from Young Fathers?
It was fairly loose apart from they didn’t want a narrative. It was mainly concerned with repositioning the band’s image, moving it away from their more lo-fi, DIY past to something a bit slicker and more polished.
Initially, they wanted us to come up with an idea that would carry across two videos, like a part one and part two. So, the idea that you see here was originally designed as a two-parter. The first video was going to be made up entirely by the stylised vignettes that you see in the first half, so we’re really selling in this idea of the band going in a new direction with their image. Then in the second video we do the rug pull and go behind-the-scenes to deconstruct what you’ve seen in the first, revealing that it was all a carefully designed marketing ploy. However, when they decided they wanted one self-contained idea for one song we had to squeeze the concept into one video, which later proved tricky in the edit.
The band described the track as being loosely about an evil or bad man and his journey to redemption, so this was our starting point in devising the individual scenes. The band also have a strong interest in masculinity and what that means in this day and age, so that was something we were able to play with visually as well.
Was the production completely in accord – any major challenges?
As I mentioned before, the main challenge came in the edit. The video went through quite a few structural changes. The first edit was much more extreme, literally cutting the track halfway through to go behind-the-scenes and introducing diegetic sounds from the set, so it was much more of a sudden WTF moment. But understandably the band didn’t want to stop the track dead so that’s when we decided to start teasing the behind-the-scenes elements more gradually and subtly over time, allowing us to maintain a greater sense of momentum and build-up. I’m really pleased with where we’ve ended up.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I love videos that challenge perceptions, pull the rug from under the viewer, offer twists and subvert things, and so that’s what we’ve reached for here. I hope you care about it. And if you do, don’t forget to share. Because sharing is caring.
Oh and Young Fathers’ new album Cocoa Sugar gets released on 9th March via Ninja Tune – go buy it! x
The Art of Making People Care…
Director: Jack Whiteley
Producer: Tiwirayi Magwenzi
DoP: Rina Yang
Art Director: Lucie Red
Stylist: Cynthia Lawrence-John
Hair & Make-up: Freddie Stopler
Editor: Chris Roebuck
Colourist: Toby Tomkins
Post: Absolute Post
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Executive Producer: Andy Orrick
Video Commissioner: Theresa Adebiyi
Record Label: Ninja Tune
Face Twins: Nawal Gurung & Nischal Gurung
Mother Earth: Amber Joy
Priest & Sinners: Sam Hatchwell, Joe Ward & Harry Ward
Music Mogul & Protégé: Richard Myers & Arnaud Lin
Dancing Man: Larry Xavier
Shot at The Old Dairy, Clapton, November 2017.