David Knight - 4th Feb 2008

At a time when the narrative video has apparently been driven to near-extinction by the video budget crunch, here comes something out of New Zealand which is as perfect an example of the genre as you could hope to find.

It's a simple story, but not only is it beautifully photographed, wonderfully paced and intriguingly cast, it has action, emotion, and evokes a sense of both past and present. The song's not bad either.

An outstanding work of direction by Sam Peacocke, and his video for Auckland band The Checks' Tired From Sleeping featured at BUG 05 at the BFI Southbank last week. It's the second video by Sam featured at BUG - his equally distinctive clip for Mint Chicks' Walking Off A Cliff Again played at BUG 03. This guy has a big future.


"The inspiration for the video came from a number of things, but the first step was arriving at my brother's house after driving and listening to the track. I came across my brother and his girlfriend (who is Japanese) having a conversation about lotus flowers. Her pronunciation of lotus was of course "rotus" and my addled brain joined this with the Lotus brand of cars hence the Japanese-English nature of the clip.

"The story then built upon this setup of a Japanese man driving for Lotus cars in the Sixties. I raced go-karts and rallied for a few years and always the days of racing were tempered with thoughts of my love back at home and how I would rather be with her; safe and cool in the afternoon shade rather than out there being brutalized by the speed, expectation and fumes of motor racing. The video basically echoes my experiences during these times.

"The two main Japanese actors I found by unusual means. Yutaro Suzuki, who played the driver Yamato, I saw walking down the street with his girlfriend at 2am on a Saturday morning; he had such an amazing look that I had to stop them and get his number and organize an audition.

"Miho Tanaka played Misaki, the girlfriend. I met her at a party in November and thought she had a strange, peaceful sadness to her that was perfect for the role. I asked her if she would be interested in acting, she was, and we got her in for an audition.

"Both these non-actors outshone all the people we auditioned from actors and model agencies.
The lead mechanics were sourced from talent agencies. The rest of the actors were friends and family - my brothers and cousins played the roles of the mechanics.

"The video was shot around Hobsonville airbase which is about three quarters of an hour's drive out of Auckland. It was set up in 1924 as a seaplane base, and was also used during WW2 by the American and NZ forces to aid in defending New Zealand from an imminent Japanese invasion. The invasion never eventuated, and the base ended up being a support facility for the larger Whenuapai airbase which lies nearby. A number of feature films have been shot at Hobsonville - most recently 30 Days Of Night, where they recreated an entire Alaskan town covered in snow.

"The cars we used in the video are both real Lotus 18 formula 1.5litre Junior cars from the early Sixties. Lotus sold these commercially in this form. The Lotus 18 was also a F1 car at the time, but had a different engine to the Formula Junior cars. The driving was done by one of the owners - a dentist with the lucky name of John Holmes!

"The budget was 30K NZD, which equates to about 12K GBP. We did get a portion of this from the NZONAIR fund [the New Zealand government's long-running subsidy to music video production] but mostly it was paid for by the band themselves. This is by far the largest promo budget I have worked with to date as there is not much money in it here with only 3.5million people to sell records to - most of whom download their music anyway."

David Knight - 4th Feb 2008

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