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12th May 2020
Will Power
Take some time off, put your feet up and take a look at Blink director Will Hooper’s totally absurd, cleverly funny and technically complicated music videos. The super-talented, almost-new director, who was about to shoot his first commercial when lockdown skittled the project for now, talks to us about his desire to make bowling alley animations, a video game and wouldn't mind designing a ghost train.

You were born in Dubai and grew up in Weston-super-Mare. Were you brought up in a particularly creative environment? And how do think your background influenced your filmic language?

My Dad is a graphic designer and my Mum’s background is in interior design – so I’ve always been surrounded by creative goings on at home.

During my early teens, my mum worked doing all the visual merchandising for a garden centre and she used to do THE BEST Christmas displays in the foyer of the building. I think that was probably the first time I was exposed to spacial design like that – or at least became aware of it and its potential. Throughout college I was sure I wanted to do something similar – not make Santa’s grotto or anything – but make art that filled physical space.

A lot of my ideas stem from thinking about the physicality of space and objects. My Dad has collected and curated tat his whole life; from crude toys to dodgy tourist bunk to questionable produce packaging, if it’s naff I’ll likely have an affinity towards it and an unyielding desire to possess it.



Did you always intend to direct films?

 Not really. When I left uni I was working in art departments and I thought that was what I was going to do primarily, and mess around with making films on the side. Before that, I was into acting and art and photography. I loved watching films and was into fantasy stuff mostly.

For a good while I thought photography was my calling and I used to spend day after day walking around London filling SD cards of silly things I saw. Looking back now I wasn’t very good but I did have fun and it taught me a lot about framing real spaces / locations.



I didn’t really consider the possibility of directing till I was in my early 20’s at university. I applied for some arts council money in my third year through the funding scheme Stop Play Record and made my first short film ‘A Roof Over Their Heads’ which was later picked up by Channel 4’s Random Acts.


And from that first short film, where you dressed the family in paper mache heads, your eye for the absurd runs like a surreal, witty thread through your music videos for Idles, Apre, Marika Hackman, Sad Night Dynamite, Bree Runway and these two latest stand-out films for Declan McKenna.

Thanks! Yep. I’ve always been into the concept of absurdism and how it can be wielded in ways that can be both poignant and funny. Creating stuff that’s cloaked in ambiguity is quite important to me – I’m really excited by multi-faceted responses to art, stuff that provokes even a tiny bit of response or process to unlock its intention. A slippery message = an excited Will. P.S. I hate Banksy.


Let’s start with the latest The Key To Life On Earth for Declan McKenna where you teamed him up with his doppelganger, End of the Fucking World star Alex Lawther, and not one frame is wasted on unravelling the story of “mundanity and hostility”.

Sure, so for this vid we were really leaning into a big internet meme that’s plagued Declan for ages. His likeness has always been compared to Alex Lawther’s – and the comment section has been persistent in underlining that fact.

Declan called me up and said that he’d got Alex lined up for the next vid and his only ambition for it was to have the two of them having a fight – something like the Peter Griffin and Chicken feud on Family Guy perhaps?

So I took that, went away, fleshed it out a bit and thought about how we can use the two of them on screen in a playful and engaging way that taps into their history/ relationship and is ultimately a chunky crowd pleaser.

I was thinking about if all those comments that people had written over the years could manifest into a person – like a digital age incantation – A bit like that old spooky urban myth you’d get told as a kid that if you look in a mirror at night and said “Candy man” three times – he would appear behind you and kill you?

The narrative itself is very loosely inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe short story William Wilson, where the protagonist stabs his doppelgänger at a Venetian masquerade ball (hence the cockroach fancy dress scrap that takes place at the end of our film).


You used vfx to a much greater extent in your earlier film for Declan McKenna Beautiful Faces than you had previously. What was behind your decision to depart from your normal live action and has this opened up new narrative possibilities for you?

Oh massively so. I don’t really see it as a departure to be honest – it’s something I’ve been interested in exploring for ages. I’m super into video games and world building and I am actually shocked it’s taken me this long to start playing with cgi. I met Alfie (Dwyer, @ze.zima) on instagram and had been quietly following his work, like a viper, waiting for the right project to come along where I could strike into his DM’s and BEG him to work with me. He said yes. 💍

Some incoming cringe for you… I used to make digital collages back in le day which were supposed to be the building blocks of ideas for films – but then I got a job at Waterstones and I played a bit too much World of Warcraft and never actually learned how to use the software to develop them any further.



Your film for London-based producer duo Sad Night Dynamite is stunningly shot and completely captivating in a surreal way as if they are interconnecting stories with more to be revealed. Explain more please.

Thanks! Huge shout out to mega babe Igor Smitka for his unmistakable skills there.

This was the first thing that SND had ever put out and they were super conscious of the grand design of the project as a whole, constantly referencing ‘the arc’.

The instrumentals themselves are quite experimental in the sense that they hint at what’s to come later down the line: referencing particular musical phrases or hooks that will appear on future singles etc. And that was something we were keen to explore in the visual too, that the piece felt like it was part of something larger – scraps of a fading fever dream, pieced back together.


Was Idles’ Colossus, which you directed, produced and edited, your breakthrough film?

Yes it definitely was! It was the first music vid I ever made in fact. I was granted some £ to make a music vid from an Arts Council funded scheme called Stop Play Record – and needed to find some music for it! I used to be in a band when I was younger and we’d played a couple of shows with Idles so I knew the singer Joe a bit, I had him on Facebook and dropped him a message saying I’ve got £3k to make a movie and he sent me their soon-to-be-released second album and said pick a song! Back of the net.


All of your films have a distinctive tone and art direction. Do you collaborate with a designer or do you visualise in detail with storyboards?

I don’t really collaborate with any individual specifically in regards to art direction. I guess I usually have quite a strong hand in the approach to design – I often think about physical space very early on when I’m writing – sometimes a whole idea can stem from something silly I want to do with a set for example. I storyboard pretty much everything as I’m also quite hot on framing and, though dodgy as heck, my storyboards can be super useful in illustrating how I want to approach shooting a certain set build or space.



You’re currently focussing on music videos but are there other genres you’d like to explore?

Oddly enough yes. I was miserably two days away from shooting my first commercial for Skittles when the lockdown came into place and the shoot got understandably pulled. I’m really hoping that once we’ve resumed normal procedures we can pick the project up again as we’d had loads of amazing prosthetics made for it.

Aside from moving into commercials I’m working with Blink on developing some longer form stuff which I’ve been able to sink some serious hours into with all the free time I have not been making commercials for Skittles.

I also have a few weird long-term goals that I think I should probably start entertaining soon: One thing I’ve always wanted to do is shoot a series of super super short live-action films that would replace the usual bowling alley animations, and have an invite only presentation of them whilst people bowled. I also really want to design a ghost train and also make a video game.


How are you spending your days WFH and is there anything in particular that you’re finding inspiring to watch, read, listen to?

I’m playing lots of video games, painting, waiting and cooking. I had a pretty busy start to the year, so it’s been quite a healthy pause for me. I’ve subscribed to an arts & culture streaming service called Marquee TV, so I’ve “been going to the theatre” a lot with my housemates – last night it was RSC’s Richard II.




Declan McKenna, The Key To Life On Earth (ft. Alex Lawther) Director: Will Hooper EP: Laura Northover Producer: Rosie Brear Prod Co: Blink Commissioner: Michael Lewin PM: Harry Hardwick PA: Rachel Bashford 1st AD: Ty Hack DoP: Ruben Woodin Dechamps 1st AC: Marcus Albertsen 2nd AC: Klara Rychtarcikova Loader: Saskia Dixie Trainee: Josh Ighodaro Gaffer: Esteban Gimpelewicz Spark: Jerzy Gudjonsson Spark: Cameron Smart Art Director: Zoe Klinck Set Dressing: Lili Abraham Art Assistant: Tea Mulabdic Art Assistant: Pedro Reis Sylist: Suzie Walsh Styling Assistant: Jade Hennessey Make up: Jackie Tyson Flight Choreographer: Dan Styles Runner: Linda Dorigo Runner: Elle Dolan Runner: Tara Sadeghi Security: John Wild Set Medic: Gary Darling-Parkes BTS: Ben Hennessey Stills Photographer: Joe Magowan Declan Double: Alex Lawther Edit: Sam Allen @ Stitch Post Producer: Kirsty Oldfield Grade: Richard Fearon Flame/Online: Jack Stone Post Producer: Tamara Mennell Sound Designer: Alexander Wells Special Thanks to: One Stop Films GreenKit Lighting Frame24 Kodak Cinelab The Frying Squad Zebrafish Get Set Hire Katinka & Lo   Declan McKenna: Beautiful Faces Director: Will Hooper Producer: Rosie Brear Exec: Laura Northover Commissioner: Michael Lewin Production Company: Blink DoP: Stephan Yap Production Manager: Rachel Bashford 1st AD: Ty Hack Focus Puller: Marcus Albertsen Loader: Jomar O’Meally Steadicam: Josh Brooks Gaffer: Will Pope Spark: Ana Krkljus Spark: Caio Dias Spark: Sam Baker DIT: Stephen Evans Rigger: Lee Doran Grip: Llewellyn Harrison Sound Recordist: Max Berridge Runner: Max McLaclan Runner: Miles Lacey Production Designer: Laura Little Art Department: Francis Styles Art Department: Tom Quinton Scenic Painter: Melisa Wickham Stylist: Michael Darlington Hair and Makeup: Jackie Tyson Editor -Sam Allen @ Speade Colourist: Richard Fearon @ Black Kite
Post Post Producer: Tamara Mennell Flame: Jack Stone 3D Artist: Alfie Dwyer Sound Designer: Alexander Wells Blink Productions   Bree Runway,  Apeshit Production Company: Blink Director: Will Hooper Executive Producer: Laura Northover Producer: Eleri Evans Production Manager: Harry Hardwick 1st Ad: Ty Hack Runner: Nana Quartey Runner: Harry Oliver Runner: Lottie O’connell Director Of Photography: Stefan Yap 1st Assistant Camera: Benjy Kirkman 2nd Assistant Camera: Jomar O’meally Camera Trainee: Finn Sheriton Dit: Jeremy Balderstone Gaffer: Danny Hayward Electrician: Darren Pearson Electrician: Johnjoe Besagni Electrician: Joss Lawson Genny Op: Sam Travis Art Director: Laura Little Art Dept Assistant: Jaclyn Pappalardo Art Dept Assistant: Tom Quinton Art Dept Assistant: Paulius Gurklys Art Dept Assistant: Laurence Hammerton Choreographer: Suzette Brissett Wardrobe Stylist: Holly Adamthwaite Wardrobe Assistant: C/O Holly Adamthwaite Make-up Artist: Paige Cole Hair Stylist: Marvin Francis Hair/Make-up Split Driver: Tony Kent Dancers: Dancer1:Beccy Dancer2:Juicy Offline Edit: Speade Producer:Kirsty Oldfield Editor:Sam Allen Post Production: Black Kite Studios Colourist: Richard Fearon Producer: Tamara Mennell With thanks to Josh Hooper, Fred Rowson and Tash Tung   Sad Night Dynamite Director: Will Hooper Prod Co: Blink Exec: Laura Northover Producer: Rosie Brear Commissioner: Sam Seager DoP: Igor Smitka Czech producers: Elizabeth Chase & Mojas Perovic PM: Pavlina Saward 1st AD: Mojas Perovic 1st AC: Murat Emkuzhev 2nd AC: Michal Kulhavy Gaffer: Vaclav Sejna Drone Op: Marek Tajbl Make Up Artist: Phil Kunes Make Up Assistant: Sara Skrinonya Band Stylist: Suzie Walsh Stylist: Christina Campagna Props master: Ales Cerny BTS: Kubo Krizo PA: Fanda Saward Driver: Milan Madar Editor: Sam Allen Post Producer: Kirsty Oldfield Grade: Lucia Kovalova Sound Design: Alexander Wells 3D Artist: Alfie Dwyer Casting: New Aliens / Dos Amigos Wardrobe supplied by Terezie Dvorakova Camera Rental: Cinestore Lighting Rental: Lightservice Props Rental: V-Props Czech Production Co: Tall Dark & Handsome  

Marika Hackman: I’m Not Where You Are

Director: Will Hooper Executive Producer: Laura Northover Producer: Femi Anderson Production Manager: Abi Jones 1st Ad: Gabriel O’donohoe Runner: Laurie Blayney Runner: Toby Haygarth Dop: Molly Manning‐walker Gaffer: Helio Ribiero Focus Puller: James Wicks 2nd Ac: Klara Rychtarcikova Electrician:Charlie Manning‐walker Electrician: Sam Baker Art Director: Afra Zamara Assistant Art Director: Martina Giuseppone Assistant Art Director: Sophie King Wardrobe Stylist: Dulcie Menzie Hair And Makeup Assistant: Yulia Yurchenko Edit: The Quarry Editor: Owen Oppenheimer Edit Producer: Tor Adams Post Production: Mpc Colourist: Peter Oppersdorff Post Producer: Amy Richardson   Idles, Colossus Directed and Produced by Will Hooper Executive Producers: Freddie Forsyth & Saskia Whinney Production company: Topsafe London Associate Producer: Emily Everdee Production Assistant: Sophie Scott Director of Photography: Paul O’Callaghan Gaffer: Julius Beltrame Camera Assistant: Harry Purser Art Director: Jack Needell Art Department Assistants: Tom Quinton, Josh Hooper, Maria Hardy Colour: Paul O'Callaghan Edit: Will Hooper