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The Questionnaire: Caroline Clayton
Since 2010, Caroline Clayton has commissioned numerous excellent music videos - and won Best Commissoner at last year's UK Music Video Awards. This year, she commissioned or co-commissioned a raft of videos for the YouTube Music Video Awards – for Ed Sheeran, FKA Twigs, Charli XCX and lots more – a project which required her to move Stateside for six months. Since returning to the UK, she's had no problem picking up where she left off, having commissioned videos for Fono, DJ Fresh, Nero and Misty Miller so far this year. Caroline managed to make a little time in her always-busy schedule to answer our questions...
Education: High school dropout.
Previous occupations: A&R and marketing manager at Ministry of Sound.
Favourite music video of the past 12 months? OK Go's 'I Won’t Let You Down' is pretty great. I also really loved David Wilson’s Royal Blood 'Out Of The Black', and Hiro Murai’s Flying Lotus ‘Never Catch Me’.
Favourite publications/websites: PromoNews obviously. Vice News is great, Pigeons and Planes is good for new music, really like WeAreTheUrban - a streetwear lifestyle blog.
Favourite food/restaurant: Matsuhisa has the best sushi in LA. In London Prawn On The Lawn is an excellent little seafood restaurant!
Favourite drink/drug: High on life…But like to accompany that with Hendriks, tonic & cucumber.
Last movie you saw (and was it any good)? The Theory of Everything on a flight. I cried, was a touch embarrassing, the lady next to me was giving me funny looks. Eddie Redmayne is an exciting new talent.
Favourite directors: I’d love to work with David Wilson or Young Rep soon.
Last gig you went to (and was it any good)? Jack Garratt at SXSW - he is incredible live. He plays guitar, percussion, synths, loops the beats live, and sings at the same time. His guitar solo on Worry is next level.
Favourite bands/artists: There is some great new music out there Jack Garratt, Tinks, Kwabs, Sohn, Kelela, Nao to name a few. Of all time, The Prodigy and Fleetwood Mac.
Currently reading/favourite book: Lord of The Rings trilogy.
What was the first music video you worked on - and what were you doing on that job? Commissioning DJ Fresh's Gold Dust. Ben Newman had wanted to go out to NYC and shoot these amazing jump ropers for a while. It was a bit of a leap of faith for the label as I’d never commissioned before. We didn’t have a proper treatment, we just sent Ben and Steve Annis out there with a Red Cam to shoot in a seriously rough area of Brooklyn. To this day it's still one of my favourite commissions.
Favourite job of the past 12 months: Hawk House's Chill Pill by Thomas Rhazi and Divison Paris, or the new Jack Garratt video by Andrew Donoho which comes out in a few weeks. The YTMA’s were also a lot of fun to commission!
What’s the next Big Thing you’re working on? There are a couple of exciting projects coming up but not sure if I can mention them yet.
What would most improve your life? Healthier production budgets so directors are able to execute the grandest ideas. All too often I’ll get in an incredible idea and it just won’t work for the money. Also, a teleporting machine.
Worst moment? Sleepless nights delivering a few heavy post production jobs over different time zones.
Biggest frustration? When tracks or budgets change and we end up wasting directors time.
What’s the big issue or issues facing music video makers right now? Not so much an issue, but I think the ways people consume music and music videos is dramatically shifting. TV is becoming less and less relevant - everything is moving online. This is great in a lot of ways as it means the stringent TV guidelines dont apply - directors have more room for creativity. It also means your video can be seen without having a big label budget behind you.
That said, I feel like with all of this instant information young peoples attention spans are definitely getting shorter.
Directors and artists really need to ensure their visuals are attention grabbing and continue to evolve throughout the piece to ensure people stay engaged now more than ever.
Also brands, branded content and product placement are a big topic of discussion right now - when is it right to include a brand, and when does it damage your artistic integrity?
What advice would you give to someone starting out in music video production? Keep hustling, be prepared to work very hard and get knocked back a lot when you’re starting out. Find the new artists who you like and approach them and their management to make videos. Choose your tracks carefully. Don’t over-complicate your ideas - often the strongest concepts can be summed up in a couple of sentences.
Any hot tips on who will be the future stars in music video in the next couple of years – directors or otherwise? Cyprien Clement Delmas; Andrew Donoho; and Houmam (colourist at ETC) is doing some very beautiful videos off his own back right now.
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