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BEHIND THE SCENES: David Wilson on the making of the video for Tame Impala's 'Mind Mischief'

BEHIND THE SCENES: David Wilson on the making of the video for Tame Impala's 'Mind Mischief'

David Knight - 29th Jan 2013

David Wilson has taken sexual exploration into the cosmic realm with his superb video for Tame Impala's Mind Mischief. David tells Promo News all about how he created the video...

Promo: How did you come up with the idea for the video I guess the title had something to do with it...
David: The idea actually sprung from the dominant guitar riff. Listening to that looping groove that runs through the first half of the track the image of a lady's bum walking down a corridor came very clearly. Then the sound of the track reminded me of nostalgia for bands such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. At the time I had just got back from spending quite a bit of time in Europe and America, and time away made me reflect on the unique selling point of being in England; what we have on our doorstep to really dig into and add production value to film work; and that lead me thinking about English private schools; the uniform, the grand buildings, the playing fields, and how that's a very unique English thing. The combination of the bum and the school ignited and the rest of the promo took shape from there.

Did the idea of going from live action to animation come first (or early on) And would you say its a development of the Ikea ad you made last year
Yes, it was something I've been wanting to develop for a long time. I experimented with it on the Ikea ad, but I feel a lot happier with how it sits with this film.

Creating the Ikea ad made me realise the danger of trying to fit too many things in too short-a-time. Mind Mischief lent itself perfectly to an expanded time, and being able to take things at a pace that the viewer can follow without being bombarded. The whole film is nearly six minutes long, and with two and a half minutes of that being animation, it was as if it were 2 music videos in one. It was a major undertaking, but it also allowed for character development and the ability for the viewer to understand a little bit about the relationship between our two lead characters before the psychedelia kicks it; which I feel was very important. I wanted this piece to have heart.

You've created a period feel in the story. What were your references And did you make one of your trademark video treatments for this one
Yes, I made a video treatment for this. I'm kind of tempted to put it online actually. Who knows, maybe one day. My main references for live action was Virgin Suicides and The Graduate but then set in England; I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin when storyboarding this video.
Animation wise, Ray Tintori's video for 'Kids' by MGMT has been a massive influence on me. Ever since seeing that at BUG years ago it made me think; one day I really want to create a video that combines live action and animation in this way. I massively indulged myself in the work on Ian Emes in the development of this video, but also the "Den" story in the film "Heavy Metal" (1981). That whole story's a nerdy teenager's wet dream.

Where did you shoot the video How did you cast Bill Milner from Son Of Rambow
We were really struggling to find a school in which to shoot this video, but between the ages of 3-10year old I lived in a small town in Hertfordshire called Berkhamsted. My Dad used to be a headmaster at one of the schools, so me and Julie (Crosbie, the producer) went on a road trip there to check out the schools. We managed to find Ashlyn's school; which was opposite the house that I grew up in. Not only was it perfect, it was film-friendly. We soon discovered that they'd shot Son of Rambow there. When driving back we joked how it'd be funny if we were able to get the kid from Son of Rambow (Bill Milner) to be our main protagonist; it'd be as if he was all grown up! Julie then went and researched his availability. Next thing I know I'm having a meeting with Bill about coming onboard with the project! His talent as an actor very quickly exceeded the trivial facts from his past. The opportunity to be put in touch with Bill was a twist of fate that I am still pinching myself about. He's an extraordinary talent, professional beyond his years (he's 17 now) and I feel very fortunate to have worked with him.

Was it fun to make
I'm not sure I'd describe the film making process as fun. We had a one day shoot, in mid-December; so we had the not-so-pleasant combination of it being freezing cold, the weather constantly changing, and only having 8 hours of daylight. It was a hard shoot, and the crew were all new to me (except wardrobe and art department), but everyone was into it, and believed in it, and turned out to be awesome!
Obviously, you can tell when you're getting looking at the monitor and getting shots that you like, and that makes it enjoyable, but the speed at which we had to work, and the variety of tricky shots meant there was very little time for reflection.

And how difficult is it to shoot inside a little 2CV..
The 2CV was going to be a Mini Cooper until the 11th hour when the owner of the mini pulled out. It was a twist that actually worked massively to our advantage. A 2CV is an incredible car to shoot in. I mean, it's restrictive because it's small, but then it's also like a toy. You can remove the roof, seats, and boot within seconds as it's just essentially a metal shell; which allowed us to achieve the transition through the back of the car etc. But it also has a personality. I loved that car.

You've co-directed the animated segment with Thomas Ormonde - how did that work Were you working on that section before the shoot
 Working with Tom was incredible; I'd like to think this will be the beginning of further collaborations. Our roles fell into place really well. I was very clear with my storyboards of what I wanted to achieve, but having Tom onboard meant that we could achieve it, and get started in tandem with live action. We had the whole animated section 3D pre-visualised before we had cast our lead characters.

Does it feel that you've used things you've learned from making other videos, ads, etc... and they've all come together in this one
I wouldn't say they've all come together on this one, but I think it's only natural for me to feel more comfortable with achieving what's in my head, but also, I feel, after a lot of experimentation, I'm starting to feel like I know what I want to achieve in my films, and the trip that I want to take the viewer on. I'm extremely grateful that Modular allowed me to achieve this piece, no holds-barred. It's been a really special one.

Also, I would like to mention Jonathan Harris, the lead animator. Jonathan really took the animation to another level. We had worked together on the Ikea commercial, but I had given him the task of achieving that film using toon-shaded 3D. Giving Jonathan the task of going back to hand drawn animation on this project (a choice that he insisted on), revealed to me what an incredible animation talent he is. The attention to detail is like no one else I've worked with in regards to adding little details and quirks, elevating the work from moving drawings to characters with personality and soul, and a natural fluidity to their movement.

 This is a co-commission with Modular Records and Urban Outfitters - did the commercial aspect of the commissioning affect the making of the video
Not at all. It delayed us starting production, just because we needed to make sure Urban Outfitters were onboard in order for us to get the budget we needed, but once that was sorted, both Modular and Urban Outfitters and the band were extremely hands-off. I guess I had laid it all out in the treatment that there would be drug references and animated nudity, and so nothing came as a surprise when we shared our work-in-progress. It was a very cool process, and I am very grateful to all parties involved.

David Knight - 29th Jan 2013


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