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Anton Tammi signs to Iconoclast and says "things will be different"
Finnish director Anton Tammi (above) has joined Iconoclast for worldwide representation for music videos, commercials and other media, having gained recognition and acclaim for his music videos for Bruce Smear, Pekko and most recently, the outstanding clip for JIL's All Your Words.
Now he's signing to Iconoclast, following a series of works, mostly produced in Helsinki, where he developed his distinctive hallucinatory style.
"Around five years ago I started talking about film ideas and music videos with some of my friends, in my home city Helsinki," Tammi has told Promonews, via email. "So we shot a few videos with DSLR cameras, zero-budget and friends as actors... Things slowly started evolving from there. The videos we shot between 2012–13 were like my music video school."
The first work uploaded to Tammi's Vimeo page three years ago was Comfort Zone by Finnish band Nothing More To Eat, a tribute to Hong Kong cinema that followed several early outings as a video director.
"One of my first ever music video was "Icy Icers", for a Finnish metal band," Tammi says. "One member of the band was Pekko Heikkilä. He later started producing techno and with him I also did the "Hunger" video... Anyway it was Pekko who introduced me to Nothing More To Eat. I had then just seen the Jackie Chan film Snake In The Eagle's Shadow. I loved the minimal opening credits of the film, with the wushu choreography, red background and Chinese graphics. So I wanted to do a Finnish hardcore version of that."
"In the shoot, I found out the crabs were extremely quick in their movement, and the scorpion was just crazy" - Anton Tammi on Bruce Smear's Pick & Roll
This was followed by his kinetic video for Bruce Smear's Pick & Roll, featuring a crab negotiating a liquid silver substance, and evading a scorpion, which was nominated for two awards at the UKMVAs in 2015. "Bruce had seen my wushu video and liked the fast pacing, which reminded him of Chris Cunningham and Nine Inch Nails videos," Tammi explains. "I was then into minimal video concepts, I think mainly because they were cheap to produce. Together we wanted to show a foreign substance disrupting the natural environment and its creatures.
"I was then living in New York. In the supermarkets of Chinatown I saw all these live crabs and live frogs and everything interesting that they sell for cooking. The cheapest crabs were only $2 each and they reminded me of The Prodigy album cover [The Fat Of The Land]. So the crabs became our main actors. The scorpion I had to buy illegally, because it's not allowed to own poisonous "arachnids" in NYC. So it was a cheap video to do but a hard one to produce.
"In the shoot, I found out the crabs were extremely quick in their movement, and the scorpion was just crazy... I didn't know the stinger can be so fast. There was only three people on set, two on camera, and me handling the scorpion with rubber gloves while the crabs were trying to escape from their cage. After the shoot I returned the scorpion to the illegal pet store. The crabs I cooked and ate.
Tammi followed this with his video for Pekko's Hunger, which revels in the group's strange behaviour, and pioneered a now popular hallucinatory visual style. He reveals that it was always the plan to make something to unsettle the viewer.
"We just knew we needed a scene where one of the guys breaks an apartment with a crowbar." - Tammi on Pekko's Hunger
"As said, Pekko is a Finland-based techno producer and a friend of mine. The Hunger video, was born from our style and humour. The unsettling mood comes from us. For example we just knew we needed a scene where one of the guys breaks an apartment with a crowbar. So we shot it. The actor in that scene actually is Pekko, the artist himself.
"Hunger was all about us wanting to shoot a mix of scenes that together build a trailer of a movie that we always wanted to see. Before the shoot, we watched lots of older trailers and films that had the mood we were after: everything from West Side Story to Miami Vice. Especially trailers of The New Barbarians and The Bronx Warriors touched us strongly. Then after the shoot, I enhanced the unsettling mood with colour grading and After Effects tricks. But ultimately I think Hunger is not just a video with crazy effects and one unsettling scene after another. There's something in between the lines. This group of guys are immune to rules and laws, but not necessarily in a bad way. They're quite aware of what they're going through, and there's a reason for their aggression. The name of the video by the way comes from the David Bowie movie The Hunger."
For this year's video for JIL, he reveals that the aesthetic came from the shoot itself, and during post production. "I think the feel of the video comes from the city, where we shot it: New York," he declares. "When you take your camera to Chinatown by night you will get nothing but a hallucinatory feel.
"The actress Sara Cummings really understood the more sensual than sexual tone we were after" - Tammi on JIL's All The Words
"Also the style of shooting was created during the Skype calls I had from NYC to Stockholm, with my DP Erik Henriksson. In post I collaborated with editors Matt Nee and Tim Montana, and colorist Duncan Russell. Together we built the structure and the look, and spiced things up. But the mood and the action itself, was captured in the shoot. The main actress, Sara Cummings, really understood the idea of the lonely character and the more sensual than sexual tone we were after. With any other actress, the video would be very different. Many of these moments we shot are actually based on Sara's improvisation. She has a unique style and a bright future as an actress."
How does he feel about joining Iconoclast on a worldwide basis? "It's an interesting new thing for me," he replies. "Every music video I've directed so far has been for independent artists and produced by me and my friends. With Iconoclast things will be different. They have produced many of my favourite music videos so it feels like a natural and exciting next step."
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