Corin Hardy’s new Keane video is more a hybrid between video and documentary than a conventional promo – starring the director himself. What could possibly justify this act of self-promotion on his part? In fact it’s more than justified. It’s a vital part of a work that goes into territory that very few other videos would dare. The video for The Nightsky features Corin instructing a class of schoolchildren from south west London on how to make animated films about some of the most harrowing events happening in the world today. But the results – created by the kids themselves – tackle these situations in a way that's enlightening, and ultimately uplifting. This special project is a contribution to Keane’s ongoing work for War Child, the music charity that works for the welfare of children caught up in war zones. It’s also a reunion of sorts for the director and band. Corin’s breakthrough in music videos came making two videos for Keane in that period when they were starting to hit it big.
The second of these, for Bedshaped, was a reworking of Butterfly, his extraordinary years-in-the-making short film made entirely in stop motion with plasticine, and Corin's work nearly always incorporates animation in some form – like his amazing Horrors video earlier this year for She Is The New Thing , where a live performance is embellished in extraordinary fashion by animated drawings. But Corin Hardy also teaches animation: for some time he has run animation workshops for schoolkids. "I'm not a trained teacher but I do animation workshops for different ages – primary school to A-level, including near-excluded kids,” he explains. “I've always been surprised with the results – whether the workshops are a day or three days – and I've thought for a while that filming an animated music video workshop would be a good way to do an actual video. Keane were looking for a different slant that made it work for the charity so I put it forward, and they were into it." Before filming began he researched War Child’s objectives and area of operations, and created information packs for the students. “Most importantly I collected the testimonies from children from the War Child website,” he says. These became the basis for the true, disturbing stories of children from Iraq, Afghanistan, The Congo and Uganda rendered in stop frame model and card animation.
The process actually took four days, the first spent introducing the kids to the charity and it's work, the second day spent making models and sets, the third and last days spent animating, finishing with the kids screening their own work – all documented in the video. The animated episodes – with additional performance footage of Keane rendered in plasticine – are superbly realised, particularly a near-abstract battle scene set in Uganda created from card and paper. The raising of spirits comes from seeing the kids’ wonder and pride at their own achievements at the end.
"They were pretty gobsmacked, because it was pretty intense up to that point,” says Corin. "I was hoping we'd animate three minutes. In fact we made five minutes - and the kids did the Keane footage later.” He says that probably the biggest problem was joining up the different styles of animation – although it could also be argued that it all bears the recognisable imprint of the director. “It's all their own work," he insists. "But filtered through me teaching them skills, and gently steering them to achieve what we want. It had to work as a video, after all." Whether they were wholly or party responsible the fact that this video was created with the involvement of children aware of the plight of other children is a strong affirmation of War Child’s message. Indeed the night sky is a theme that passes from the song to an element of the video to a symbol behind the whole process: whoever we are, wherever we are, we all live under it. "I'm really pleased," Corin says. "It feels like it did the right job, balancing a music video with a deeper meaning. These are real, quite horrific stories. Live action just wouldn't work. Having children to create the animation and filming the process worked on a different level.”