Ben you are used to being the performer in front of the camera – how has this experience contributed to your decision to teaming up with your younger brother Ryan as a directing duo? And why now?
Ben: I’d like to get to a place where the positions behind the camera and in front are blurred. I feel safer behind the camera to tell the truth, I wanted more control over the way the world sees me.
Were you making stuff together as kids? Was it a particularly creative environment to grow up in?
Ryan: I wrote stories and made short films from a young age and as I got older I got more into the technical aspects of filmmaking. This led me to DOP-ing on several short films. I guess Ben and I had lots of creative hobbies growing up, but we didn’t collaborate on much until Eugene.
Ben: Yeah we were both pretty creative but you know what it’s like growing up with brothers/sisters it takes you a while to realise they’re the perfect person to collaborate with.
My brother also wanted to be a Michael Jackson impersonator for quite a while when he was younger. Difficult to make films with a guy who won’t stop dancing.
What was your creative process for Arlo Parks’ Eugene? Did you both work simultaneously on the narrative, storyboarding and prep or did you divvy up the tasks?
Ryan: We work together on a lot of prep, which is really useful for creativity as we can bounce ideas back and forth constantly to avoid writer’s block. Ben has more experience with acting, and being in front of the camera, whereas I have more technical experience behind the camera. We subsequently bring different approaches to filmmaking, and this often means one of us can take more of a lead in areas we’re more comfortable with.
Were there any unexpected challenges on making Eugene?
Ryan: One of the most important things for us was ensuring that the onscreen chemistry between Arlo and Amelia felt realistic – they had to look like best friends. We blocked out the video beforehand, to get them comfortable with one another and they clicked instantly. It was as if they’d known one another for years and it really shows in their performances.
Another challenge was nailing the bed separation. It’s a really key moment and we didn’t want it to look cheap, nor did we want it to look too polished. Our aim was for it to look like it was part of a theatre production, and I think it worked.
How do you think you will settle any difference of opinion?
Ryan: Just hash it out. Look at the bigger picture and how our different ideas fit into what we’re creating. I don’t think one of us is ever right and the other wrong, it’s just about which direction we want to take things.
Ben: my little brother is being modest, he’s almost always right.
You’re both multi-faceted artists – we hear you’ve got a cooking school for kids with ADHD Ben – any other hidden talents?
Ben: Yeah the cooking school is something very close to my heart.
Ryan’s the man with the other talents though, not many people know this but he actually ran away to the circus over the summer of 2018. He’s pretty incredible on the trapeze.
Ryan: haha, I was waiting for this to come up. I do alright.
Will your focus be on music videos? And if so will they be narrative driven or performance led?
Ryan: We’ll be working on whatever’s creative and interesting, if that’s music videos then cool, but I wouldn’t want us to restrict ourselves. We’re really into telling stories that feel human and poignant, I hope we can continue with that. I don’t really accept the dichotomy of narrative or performance. In Eugene, the performance was arguably the most important aspect of the telling the narrative.
Ben: Ryan put it perfectly, we just wanna tell stories. Human, realistic, important stories.
How would you describe your vision and voice and how do you see evolving this?
Ryan: We wanted to tell the same relatable, human story that the song tells and leave the narrative open to interpretation to further expand on the relatability. The theme of relatability and accessibility is something that we hope to continue in our future work.
Ben: Yeah man, our vision is just to spend as much time together as we can. Have a lot of fun, and push each other creatively.
Any particular reason why you signed to Spindle?
Ryan: They liked our idea and supported the production, while also giving us the freedom to develop ourselves. I think this speaks volumes for the kind of people they are and the unique relationship they have with their directors.
Ben: We were also fans of Greg Hackett’s work, him being a director at Spindle was the icing on the cake.
Arlo Parks, Eugene
Production Company: Spindle
Director: The Coyle-Larner Brothers
Executive Producer: Miles Nathan
Executive Producer: Greg Hackett
Producer: Rosie Brear
Director of Photography: Anna MacDonald
1st Assistant Director: Gabriel O’Donohoe
1st Assistant Camera: Anil Duru
2nd Assistant Camera: Ollie Cipres
Key Grip: Warwick Drucker
Gaffer: Leon Pyszora
Spark: Jamie Hitchens
Studio: YouTube Studios
Art Director: Charlotte King
Art Department: Emmet Kierans
Art Department: Rory Kierans
Stylist: Suzie Walsh
Hair and Makeup: Emilie Louizdes
Edit: Tim Swaby @ Spindle
Colour Grade: Vlad Barin @ Cheat
Post Production: No.8
Arlo Parks c/o Beatnik
Arlo’s Friend: Amelia Bennett
Eugene: Theo Toksvig
Runner: Shoshana Kessler
Runner: Dubheasa Lanipekun
Stills: Milly Cope