- Hi David and welcome to Vents! Before we get started, how have you been during these uncertain and tumultuous times?
Hi ! I have been suprisingly busy ! So no time to be worried or anything. And I made myself busy too.
- Congratulations on your newest music video, Bling! What influenced the look on Bling?
Thanks ! Definitely the work of Jim Blashfield (Leave Me Alone by MJ, Sowing the Seed of Love by Tears for Fears…). My own personal demons and favorite subjects. And getting a bike to cycle around London.
- Filmmaking has become a lot less elaborate as the technology to capture movie worthy images has become more advanced and compact. You shot Bling on Zoom and an iPhone, yet it looks quite sleek and very polished. Going forward, do you think that Zoom and the iPhone will become more and more of a common tool in music video shoots?
To be totally honest, I hope not. I still prefer shooting with a crew, with talents in the same room, on same location. I miss that a lot.
But I enjoy shooting with the iPhone. It’s a great, great tool. A whole new language. I’ll definitely be using these device a lot, and I can’t wait to even see more feature films shot with it.
But there is this new category, in every music video awards : “best lockdown video”, so this is inevitable.
- Are there just situations when shooting a music video where you find it preferable to have some of the more elaborate and tricked out filming tools as opposed to something like the iPhone?
It’s hard to answer that question. Both have advantages. I would say shooting with an iPhone allows you to shoot everywhere, whenever you want, and frame quickly, also without a permit, or blocking a road, for example. And it’s also cheaper, of course. It’s a lot of fun, since for this video, it was just me with my bike. But it’s also very lonely.
So I’ll say, I like both ! 😉
- When coming to a music video shoot, what are the main considerations? Is it a collaboration between the musician’s vision and your own?
For most of the cases, I try to stick to my vision. Inviting an artist in my own themes, universe, style. That’s the way I like doing it. But it’s always inspired by the artist’s music and lyrics. And the best thing is when you create an artist from scratch, involving wardrobe, press photos, artworks, branding, etc. I’ve done that before, several times, and it’s like playing with action figures as a kid.
- From start to finish, including post, how long did it take for you to assemble Bling?
4 full weeks total : 6 days filming, 3 weeks in post, working 18 hours/day, with 4 or 5 sleepless nights before delivery.
- You won the coveted and prestigious George Lucas Award when you were only seventeen. What sort of impact did this early recognition for your work have on your career?
I actually won this award at 19, but won the Young Jedi Award at 17, 2 years before. My best memory of it was to be invited at the Skywalker Ranch, in Lucas Valley, north San Francisco. Seeing the legacy and the estate George Lucas built, that was a big inspiration.
Regarding work and career, it kept me motivated, and I won some $$$$ so I could finance my first personal short films.
- What led you to become a filmmaker?
Growing up in painting and arts and crafts studio, and a music studio, with my parents encouraging me and opening my mind to it. Then quitting college after 3 weeks, and after that starting working at a Visual Effects company, as a digital compositor, and going and growing on set as much as I could.
- Are there any filmmakers that inspire your own work?
David Fincher. Many directors say that, but I think, unconsciously, I try to mimic his trajectory: starting in the VFX industry, directing music videos, and developing feature film projects.
More recently, Ruben Ostlund. Terrific, brilliant and mastermind director.
- As a filmmaker, is it essential for you to come onto a project excited and full of ideas and visions, or do you take a more tactical wait-and-see approach, preferring to allow inspiration strike while on set?
Directing and filmmaking requires a lot of prep, and research. I believe you always have to arrive prepared, as your film should be done before filming. What happens on set, even improvisation, or accidents, is just the result of all the work on prep.
- Renowned and respected director David Fincher began his professional career shooting music videos before segueing to big screen features. Do you see yourself making the same leap? Would you like to direct a feature Hollywood film?
I promise I didn’t read your questions before answering to 9). So Yes, definitely 😉 Big inspiration. Having his career seems like an impossible dream. This man is just basically God, or Santa Claus.
- You won Best VFX at the virtual Berlin Music Video Awards this year. What was that honor like for you?
It was an honour because I was nominated among huge talents, and big VFX studios. And on this video, it was just me and my iMac.
- How do you think the pandemic will alter the face of the entertainment industry and will these changes be permanent?
To be honest I don’t know, and I don’t want to talk about it too much. For sure everything will now be online, streaming. But I miss going to the movies. I miss my local art house cinema. I miss it deeply.
I miss my crew, I miss going on set. I truly hope we’ll get out of this in not too long.
- Can you give Vents readers a hint as to what you have coming up next?
A little short film shot in our living room and in the streets of London, on lockdown, with my partner, actress-producer and partner-in-crime Naila Mansour.