The response to this video has been overwhelming and really appreciated after all the hard work that went into making it. It’s very different from my previous videos, in style and execution. Most music vids are shot in 2 or 3 days but this one was filmed sporadically over about 3 months. And whereas all my other ones were scripted and storyboarded in minute detail, I began this one without either, just an idea in my heart that I wanted to express. When asked by Hospital what the video was going to be about I just said ‘the oneness of the universe’. They were understandably concerned but trust to just let me get on with such things. Armed with just a Canon 7D camera, a Glidecam, a tripod and one handheld light (I mainly used natural light) and the assistance of my pal Dave Shaw, I began the shoot.
I’m often frustrated at videos that have lots of great individual shots but that don’t join them up to make something more than those separate pieces, it’s just one thing at one time. I wanted to make something that took ideas from Eisenstein’s theory of intellectual montage, where one shot plus another shot equals something greater than both, but not do it in as literal or proselytizing a way as he did. So in order to not be so didactic I began the video without a script. I just went out shooting with a subliminal idea, shot more than I needed, looked at it on the computer, chose the moments that stood out to me then thought about what ideas it triggered from there.
So for example when I shot the two kids playing with sticks in the forest, I just by chance picked up the skeleton costume and flag on the day. Then in one unplanned shot the older boy ran towards the camera chasing a floating feather. It looked good cutting when his chest, the skeleton rib cage, filled the screen so I thought about what would be fitting to cut to from there. I thought of an x-ray. And then thought, why would someone be holding an x-ray? That led on to the whole scenario with the man on the beach. This was conceived of more than half way through the overall shoot.
It’s obviously a lot more work and time shooting in such an unplanned way but I believe it can pay off. It wouldn’t be right for every project but where appropriate it’s very useful. It was also a lot of fun editing, picking through the hours of footage, finding the few seconds that connected with other shots, such as the run of images of people raising their arms up into the air. Once I had filmed a few of those by chance I then asked people to do it or tried to create a situation where they did it naturally. The whole video is made up of a mixture of natural, ‘documentary’ footage and completely staged, fictional scenes.
I love the interplay of the two, it gives an uneasy edge to the whole thing where you can never totally be sure of what you are seeing. And because I refrained from ever spelling out too literally what the video is ‘about’ there is a tension in the viewers mind, the video is always on the edge of being just a random hodge podge of images. For me, every shot is absolutely there for a reason and fits in with the mosaic of my message but it’s a fine balancing act and so might not work for everyone.
After such an epic video, of course the question is where the heck do I go with the next one? Well, that’s the fun of it.