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I ❤️ Music Videos - Deep Forest 'Sweet Lullaby' by Tarsem, plus more (Feb 1994)

I ❤️ Music Videos - Deep Forest 'Sweet Lullaby' by Tarsem, plus more (Feb 1994)

David Knight - 29th Feb 2024

Thirty years ago, videos were being made that would turn out to be regarded as absolute classics of the artform. In fact, even some of the videos we may have forgotten about were amazing.

Back then, the busy world of UK music video production could be found within the pages of PROMO Magazine. In February 1994, the publication had news of Kevin Godley's upcoming video for Blur's Girls & Boys, Pedro Romhanyi directing Pulp's breakthrough hit The First Time, and two videos for Misty Oldland from a new director called Jake Nava.

There was a two page interview with directing duo Big TV - Andy Delaney and Monty Whitebloom - who had just directed Tori Amos's Cornflake Girl video (on the cover of the January issue of PROMO) and Shakespeares Sister's Marcella Detroit's solo debut I Believe.

Within four pages of production credits (fun fact: garnered from completed forms that was sent to the PROMO office by fax machine) were some videos that gave an indication of the work being produced in the US at the time, destined for the all-powerful MTV, including Aerosmith's Cryin', directed by Marty Callner; and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Give It Away, directed by Stephane Sednaoui.

There were also extended reviews of some of the latest music videos. The first, and also providing the first cover photo of the newly redesigned PROMO being for a 'world music' track that had become a sleeper hit during the course of 1993, and would have a huge influence within dance music through the Nineties - and particularly upon Moby: Deep Forest's Sweet Lullaby. 

The video was directed by Tarsem Singh (known as Tarsem), who had previously directed the multi-MTV VMA-winning video for REM's Losing My Religion. And it fits into that category of great videos of the Nineties that are not widely remembered. But it certainly should be.

If only there was a decent quality version on YouTube...

Deep Forest - Sweet Lullaby (Director: Tarsem)   

From PROMO Magazine, February 1994: 

TARSEM's first video since his much-garlanded 1991 clip for REM's "Losing My Religion" is a labour of love. Inspired by the voice of a Pygmy girl singing a capella at the end of the track, the director travelled to eight countries on four continents on a four and a half week shoot in order to realise his story of a little girl who travels the world on a tricycle in her search for sleep.

The video starts with a stunning sequence of Indian labourers literally pulling a ship apart, then switches to Africa (Kenya), and then in succession, Moscow, Barcelona, New York, China, and back to India. This footage, tinted to various shades of black and white (although mostly shot in colour) is intercut with colour footage - shot in Turkey - of an exotic ensemble who mirror the action in the other locations. The little girl eventually arrives there, and finds sleep to the strains of the Pygmy's lullaby (while Tarsem's coda is another great shot, a tightrope walker walking on water). In the course of the voyage the director toys with visual perspective, creating a series of in-camera special effects. The clip contains no postproduction work apart from straight editing.

The $150,000 budget just about covered expenses for a skeleton crew of four - the director, his girlfriend art director, the producer and his partner — and their 'star', who is Tarsem's niece. They did have help from some locals when necessary, but Robert Campbell, Tarsem's UK producer at Spots Films, says, "It was a case of him turning up to each location with his beat-up old Arri 2C, and Fatima with her trunk full of props, then planning it, shooting it and leaving again in about three days."

PRODUCTION: A&R Group (NY); Director/Cameraman: Tarsem; producer: Dave Ramser; art director: Fatima Andrade; cast: Shaan Sahota; editor: Robert Duffy at Spotwelders; commissioner: Scott Spanjick, Epic Records


The Proclaimers - Let's Get Married (Director: Lindy Heymann)

Within a couple of years Lindy Heymann had become one of the most prolific and versatile directors working in music videos, having started by directing the first two videos for Suede's first singles in 1992. Her first US-shot video was for The Proclaimers, her biggest budgeted video thus far - and the DoP was Seamus McGarvey.

From PROMO, Feb 94: 

Shot in and around Las Vegas, the director visited several wedding chapels and met and interviewed such a collection of larger-than-life characters, including elderly and gay newlyweds, she ended up cutting two versions of the clip, one including snippets of talk from the happy folks celebrating the American way of matrimony - you may see it on MTV.

PRODUCTION: M-Ocean Pictures; director: Lindy Heymann; producer: Richard Spalding; DoP: Seamus McGarvey; art director: Cathy Cooper; stylist: Spencer Horne. POST: editor: Gaz Evans at The Surgery.

Elastica - Line Up (Director: Matthew Longfellow)

From PROMO, Feb 94:

Matthew Longfellow's second promo for indie's band-of-the-moment - he also directed the one-shot wonder for "Stutter" - had to fulfill leader Justine's yearning for an animated video despite similar budgetary constraints. Longfellow briefed Michael Gilette and Tom Edgar, the makers of a short film based on Peake's "Gormenghast", to produce the puppet animation while he worked on a computer programme using photos of the band on an Apple Mac. The animated photos have, a punk feel, the puppet animation is unsophisticated but looks cool. The clip, prodúced over a two to three week period, also includes speeded-up footage of the band in a local caff, live material from their recent NME show, and 'video diary' boredom. "This one had the kitchen sink thrown into it," says producer Ceri Levy.

PRODUCTION: Head Films; Matthew Longellow, live action and Apple animation director; Ceri Levy, producer; Longfellow and John Walker, DPs; Michael Gillette & Tom Edgar, puppet animation. POST: Longfellow on Avid, off and online. COMMISSIONER: Tony Smith at Deceptive.

Crowded House - Locked Out (Director: Zanna)

From PROMO, Feb 94

Excellent central idea makes this one of Zanna's best videos. The band and other characters run at speed towards a speedily back tracking camera for the length of the clip, with the quick-cutting between individuals creating an almost free-fall effect. Among the runners are a trio of Zanna's hip chicks, who are act more like they are legging it from something, adding a dramatic resonance to an interesting location: a South Wales village and its environs. Lead man Neil Finn really goes for it. Will leave viewers breathless...

PRODUCTION: M-Ocean Pictures; Zanna, director, Dierdre Allen, producer; Adrian Wild DP; Tony Stringer, art director; Katy England, stylist. POST: Tele-Cine Cel, telecine; Guy Morley at Metropolis, offline; Tele-Cine Cel, online. COMMISSIONER: Michelle Peacock at Capitol (NY).

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away (Director: Stephane Sednaoui)

In The Diary section of the Feb 94 issue, PROMO's 'gossip columnist' The Eyeball Kid reveals that the ITV Chart Show* had named the wrong director for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Give It Away video, crediting it to Gus Van Sant. Apparently, this gaffe "led to Tony Kaye Films (Van Sant's rep) being inundated with calls from admiring admen, then being embarassedly passed on to Propaganda, where the true perpitrator Stephane Sednaoui can be found".

The French photographer turned director had hit the big time. In fact, Sednaoui hit the big time with Big Time Sensuality, the video he made Bjork, filmed on the back of a flatbed truck in New York, in 1993. The brilliant Give It Away video confirmed he was a natural-born music video director par excellence. No wonder the 'admen' were after him.

PRODUCTION: Propaganda Films; director: Stephane Sednaoui; DoP: Marco Mazze; art director: Nick Goodman.  

* The ITV Chart Show was a hugely popular Saturday morning programme that devoted an hour to new music videos on British terrestrial TV every week. It was absolutely required viewing. It was also often maligned by music video makers for its editorial choices - and cutting out of videos before they were finished. But the same people were also distraught when ITV pulled the plug on the programme a few years later.




David Knight - 29th Feb 2024

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