David Knight - 12th May 2008

James Appleton directed the highly successful video for The Futureheads' last single The Beginning Of The Twist - the cheeky offspring of Take On Me and Over And Over - and now he's come up with a worthy successor.

For Radio Heart, James has placed the band in (surprise, surprise) an old-fashioned trannie - for all you youngsters, that's a transistor radio.

In fact the whole thing takes place in a pre-digital world, when it was all about twiddling knobs and young men and women sat in bleak bedsits with only the wireless for company. I remember it well.

But why is the drummer plugging a TV channel

James Appleton on making the Futureheads' Radio Heart video

"I knew I needed to involve a narrative element, something with some kind of progression between the guy and the girl in the song. I wanted to keep it fun and surreal, and to keep performance material at the forefront in the promo.

"I started to think about radio waves and heart monitors. Moving further I looked at radio tuning dials and how they show different frequencies, and thought it would be fun to split images as though different parts are on different frequencies, drifting in and out of tune with each other.

"Sound can of course create pictures in the mind's eye, and I thought I could build the narrative of the guy and the girl around this. They are searching for each other in their own imaginations by listening to each other's voices on the radio, and dreaming. Tonally, I wanted to tap into the slightly melancholic undercurrent in the track, but again without getting too serious about it.

"In terms of making the video, overall I wanted to go for an analogue look rather than a digital one, organic rather than synthetic. For the radio waves we filmed a real oscilloscope rather than using animation. James Hatt [production designer] and I made sure we found an old analogue one so that we got the natural movement and luminance in the waves. The sound designer Alan plugged an old synth into it to make different shaped waves. In post these were then keyed, re-coloured and laid into the shots.

"I also wanted to use a real radio for the foreground radio dial images and key through these, rather than animate. I knew that when panning across the radio on a macro lens it wouldn't be perfectly smooth, but I wanted the character this adds. We did look through many radios before finding the right one!

"I was able to have two small two wall sets, so I tried to make sure the involvement of the characters in the promo made full use of this. I wanted his set to be grey and aged to stand for lifelessness, monotony, drabness, and for her set to be predominantly red, for life, love, passion, bringing colour to his world. I thought that the very simple contrast would work in this context.

"Mike (the DoP) and I talked about quite a quite high contrast lighting style that had a sort of surreal fairytale flavour, but also highlighted the two actors' isolation, like Edward Hopper's 'Girl in the Café'.

"During our Flame time, Alix came up with a great idea to key through footage of a plasma ball to create the waves, which come from the top of the radio mast. We also saturated foreground waves slightly more than background ones to create a bit more depth in the images. Finally we applied a soft grain and vignette to age the film and glue the thing together visually, thereby marrying the overall look with the ideas in the promo."

Watch 'Futureheads’ Radio Heart by James Appleton ' here


Production CompanyGrasshopper Films
DirectorJames Appleton
ProducerClare Spencer
Director of PhotographyMichael Beresford
Art DirectorJames H
EditorJames Appleton
Sound designAlan Dobson
ColouristKenny Gibb
CommissionerGideon Mountford

David Knight - 12th May 2008

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