Once upon a time, back in the dim, dark Blogspot days of The Playlist, we had a feature called Videodrome, which looked at a selection of recent music videos by notable directors with big-name actors or just clips that were worth a watch. Once we moved to indieWire, it rather fell by the wayside, but thanks to popular demand (well, one guy emailing us) we’re bringing it back.
This week is a particularly notable one to get it going again as it brings two excellent big-screen works by music video veterans in the form of “Submarine” by Richard Ayoade, who was behind promos for the likes of Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys, and “Beginners,” the sophomore feature from Mike Mills, who directed videos for Air, Blonde Redhead and Pulp, among others.
Both films are excellent, among the very best of the year so far, and it’s evidence of a film culture where music video directors don’t just turn into expensive action specialists like Michael Bay, Francis Lawrence and McG, but into some of the most compelling and interesting directors around, joining names like David Fincher, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry. But in the wake of Ayoade and Mills’ triumphs, there’s one question: who will join them as the next wave of talented music video directors to graduate to the big screen in style? To kick off the revival of Videodrome, we’ve picked five of the most likely names, directors who either have feature debuts in the pipeline or who seem poised to make the leap. Check out the five names after the jump.
No one’s embodied a certain kind of aesthetic among Brooklyn bands like MGMT, Yeasayer and Telepathe in the last few years than Ray Tintori. The 27-year-old director graduated from Wesleyan in 2006 and was swiftly working with MGMT on clips for their singles “Electric Feel,” “Time To Pretend” and “Kids,” before moving on to the likes of Cool Kids, Chairlift and even The Killers. Summing up the Tintori aesthetic isn’t the easiest thing to do; his work to date differs wildly, although they all share a taste for the fantastical, impressively weird costumes and, often, a tastefully tasteless early ’90s approach to color schemes. Much of his work so far leans towards experimental video art rather than any kind of narrative, like the low-rent effects of the “Time to Pretend” clip, but it’s clear from his excellent graduate short, the “Wizard of Oz” riff “Death to the Tinman,” that he’s got storytelling skills to spare. Tintori was all set to make the leap into the big screen world with Spike Jonze hiring the young helmer to develop an adaptation of Shane Jones‘ novel “Light Boxes,” about a town facing a 1,000-day winter. But time passed without much news on the project, and Jonze revealed last year that Tintori was off the project, and Jones suggested that the option on the project had lapsed altogether. Indeed, Tintori’s been as quiet as a mouse for the last two years, with only a cameo on-screen appearance in HBO‘s “Treme” and camera operating for mumblecore helmer Kentucker Audley registering in a Google search. But when he finally does resurface, we’re expecting something special.
Watch: Beautiful black and white short “Death to the Tinman” perhaps gives the best sense of what a Tintori feature would be like, but his disturbing video for MGMT’s “Kids,” starring indie heartthrob Joanna Newsom, is an equally good guide. Also a must-watch is his video for Charilift’s “Evident Utensil,” which won him an MTV video award nomination for its kaleidoscopic, fragmented charms.
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“Death to the Tinman” Pt. 1
“Death to the Tinman” Pt. 2
MGMT – “Kids”
Chairlift – “Evident Utensil”
Unlike any of the other directors on this list, Nima Nouzarideh has actually filmed his debut feature: the British art school graduate was hand-picked by “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips to helm his secretive low-budget comedy, currently known as “Project X,” a found-footage comedy documenting a house party. Nouzarideh’s been working in music videos for close to a decade, first as a part of collective The Imaginary Tennis Club, making promos for artists like Dizzee Rascal and Junior Senior, and then solo. Since then, he’s worked over and over again with the likes of Hot Chip, Lily Allen and Jamie T, as well as one-offs for Mark Ronson, Chromeo and Santigold. His videos tend to be fairly glossy, but there’s always at least one killer visual idea — the motion-control in the clip for Maximo Park‘s “Our Velocity,” the camcorder-holding triangle girls in Franz Ferdinand‘s “No You Girls” (which we’d wager landed him the “Project X” gig), the Jessica Rabbit-esque animated Lily Allen in Mark Ronson’s “Oh My God.” Time will tell whether he’s got the substance to match the style (his videos aren’t necessarily the most soulful around), but he’s certainly a talent to watch, and we’ll be interested to see how “Project X” turns out when it lands in 2012.
Watch: Below is that POV-happy Franz Ferdinand video, plus his glorious video for Santigold’s “L.E.S. Artistes” and his classic, deconstructionist take on Hot Chip’s “Over and Over.”
Franz Ferdinand – “No You Girls”
Santigold – “L.E.S. Artistes”
Hot Chip – “Over and Over”
The latest sub-group of video directors to emerge seems to be comedians-turned-helmers: Richard Ayoade has led the way, while Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of “Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” fame, worked on music videos for the likes of Maroon 5, HEALTH, Major Lazer, Flying Lotus and Ben Folds. The latest to join them is comic and actor Peter Serafinowicz. Still perhaps best known for voicing Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace,” Serafinowicz has worked consistently both on his own BBC sketch show, and in the likes of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Couples Retreat” and “Running Wilde.” But Serafinowicz’s ambitions clearly don’t stop there, as last year saw him make his directorial debut with a video for Hot Chip‘s “I Feel Better,” a bonkers mad clip about a boy band’s confrontation with a bald-headed alien. It was one of the funniest and most surprising promos of last year, and he followed it up a few months back with the video for Alex Metric and Steve Angello‘s “Open Your Eyes,” a “Rocky” meets “Robocop” mash-up which again demonstrated a propensity for a cinematic look, visual effects and dark humor. It’s clear that Serafinowicz’s ambitions stretch beyond the music video world: he told The Guardian earlier in the year that he’s trying to put together his first feature, and we don’t expect it’ll be long before he follows friends and occasional colleagues Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish onto the big screen.
Watch: He’s only been behind two clips so far (although from his Twitter feed, it seems that a third is on the way), but you can watch both the Hot Chip and Alex Metric videos below.
Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Alex Metric & Steve Angello – “Open Your Eyes”
It came as something of a pleasant surprise last year when we covered the outstanding video for The Temper Trap‘s “Love Lost” that the man behind it, Dougal Wilson, was also behind a number of our favorite clips from the last few years. Wilson started off studying astrophysics, of all things, before going into advertising copywriting in Scotland, eventually giving it up direct commercials and music videos. Since then, he’s helmed spots for most of the big name companies around, including Coca-Cola, Orange, Vodafone and JCPenney, but it’s his music video work that’s really grabbed our attention. Some of his early work was a little derivative (his clip for LCD Soundsystem‘s “Tribulations” was pretty much a straight rip of Michel Gondry‘s “Lucas With The Lid Off” video), but ever since then he’s proven himself to be one of the most witty, imaginative directors in the business: witness the laugh-out loud clip for Dizzee Rascal‘s “Dreams,” or the spot on retro parody of British kids TV favorite “Blue Peter” for Will Young‘s “Who Am I” video. He’s gone on to do top-notch work for bands like Goldfrapp, Coldplay and Massive Attack. Other than being picked to helm a short film for English National Opera alongside Werner Herzog and Sam Taylor-Wood, there’s been little sign of a feature debut, but we’re sure it’ll only be a matter of time.
Watch: The aforementioned Temper Trap clip can be found below, as well as the staggering “Donnie Darko“-esque clip for Bat For Lashes‘ “What’s A Girl To Do” (one of our favorites of the last decade or so), and the hilarious video for Jarvis Cocker‘s “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time.”
The Temper Trap – “Love Lost”
Bat For Lashes – “What’s A Girl To Do?”
Jarvis Cocker – “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time”
For the most part, the music video has remained more or less the same since its popularization in the 1980s — the directors above are all talented, but they haven’t necessarily moved the form forward in a big way. But there’s one guy who is really turning the form upside down for the web era, and that’s Chris Milk. Milk has had a nice sideline in commercials and video work, starting out with decent, but unexceptional videos for the likes of Modest Mouse and Kanye West — the “Touch the Sky” clip that turned West into Evel Knievel was one of his better early ventures. But it’s his more recent work that’s made him out to be one of the most interesting talents around. First there was the short “Last Day Dream,” which tells an entire life over 42 seconds, which became a viral hit, but it was his next project, a video for Arcade Fire‘s “We Used To Wait,” that really grabbed attention. Entitled “The Wilderness Downtown,” it was a Google Chrome-only interactive video that combines specially shot footage, animation, Google Maps and Street View and even a moment when the viewer is asked to write a letter to their younger self, all timed to one of the band’s best songs. He followed that up more recently with “3 Dreams of Black,” a promotional tool for Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi‘s spaghetti western tribute album “Rome,” which combines apocalyptic imagery with an almost video-game like interface. Both works were something truly different, a taste of where music video could end up heading in the future, and showed Milk to be a visionary. He’s not yet hinted at moving into features, except that WME have signed to rep him in that world, so it can’t be long before he heads that way.
Watch: For obvious reasons, we can’t embed the interactive stuff, but find them at the official sites: “The Wilderness Downtown” here, “3 Dreams of Black” here, and you can watch the Kanye West video below, as well as the brief short “Last Day Dream.”
“Last Day Dream”
Kanye West – “Touch The Sky”