No Holds Barred: The Making of Misery Lane

Up until this year LateNite has never really dabbled in music videos.

It seems like an odd choice considering some of my favourite directors started in music videos. People like Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Marc Webb, Mike Mills, Anton Corbijn and even David Fincher all made a blistering start to their careers by playing around and experimenting with their style through the predominantly visual medium that is music videos.

The great thing about them is that you really have no boundaries. You can do whatever you want, however you want. That’s why I’ve never really understood performance clips – why shoot a band playing when you can screw around with style and tell a story, have a deeper meaning at the heart of the clip, or just plain and simple, shoot something balls out crazy.

The reason I’m talking about this and rambling on is because I’ve discovered a new love of shooting music videos. So far I have directed two clips (with fellow LateNite director Michael Shanks) and love them both for very different reasons.

For starters the clips were for two very different bands. The first for a Melbourne folk outfit called Huckleberry & Me and the second for grungy Melbourne rockers Money For Rope, who I’ve been a fan of for a long time.

The thing that becomes evident early on with music videos is there are so many factors which come into play, especially when it comes to money, as the music industry in Australia (by the looks of things) seems to be in no better shape than the film industry here with money being scarce. The great thing about this is it forces us to be creative with how we approach the clip and sometimes it can really come down to the absolute basics.

A great example of this is the Spike Jonze directed clip for Fatboy Slim track Praise You.

Simple but effective.

With the clip for Money For Rope we had a short amount of time and not a lot of cash, so we had to think of an idea that we thought would really do justice to their brilliant track, Misery Lane. The idea was simple from the boys: Have them run hell for leather at each other and shoot them colliding in slow motion, an idea that was originally meant for the cover art on their debut album.

After a bit of discussion, Mike and I decided we wanted to add a few different elements to what was essentially a very simple idea just to really help with the visuals in the clip. For starters we decided to cover the boys in talcum powder to hopefully create a mist as they collide with each other – Mike expressed that he wanted as many particles flying off the boys at 300fps as possible. Secondly we decided to shoot the set up like an old spaghetti western, with each pair facing off like wild west gunslingers. What this set up does is create an anticipation of what these guys are about to do. We give the audience as little information as possible except planting the idea in their heads that each pair are going to face off with each other; how and why is not clear. This anticipation is what keeps our audience hooked right up until we have the band enter frame as they begin to run at each other.

What was an insane and crazy idea has translated into something far more artistic than we originally anticipated. When shot in 300fps, the powder that we covered the guys in comes flying off and lingers in the air as the guys collide with each other, creating a floating path, tracking the guys movements. The impacts themselves look almost like a strange but sad dance as the six band members go flailing about in the air in slo mo. Again, a very simple idea that uses almost abstract imagery to tell a story.

You won’t be able to catch the clip for a few days whilst it’s in post and while the boys prep to release it but for the time being here is some sweet behind the scenes footage that the wonderful Jacqui Hocking shot whilst on set.

What’s evident about music videos is that it doesn’t take just high production values for a clip to stick in your mind (I hate you Michael Bay). What matters is the story telling element and if a clip can reinforce the story of the song. Sometimes the simplest of ideas can be the strongest.

We shall release the Money For Rope clip hopefully soon but until such time here are a few of my personal favourites from over the years, the last of which is a recent clip by friend Kess Broekman-Dattner who took a really simple idea and turned it into a really beautiful clip.

We would love for you to post some of your own so feel free to comment and recommend some sweet ass music vids.