Luke Tierney - 6th Aug 2013

Ever wondered what being on acid at the zoo would be like? Me neither, but I'm glad I now know thanks to Kate Moross's warped animal-centric offering for Washed Out's Don't Give Up. Vibrant footage the likes of which we usually see in programmes narrated by David Attenborough, is put under a microscope until it's almost but not quite abstract - with Washed Out's warm ambient-pop sliding over it.

Being a graphic designer and illustrator must, in the least subconsciously, affect direction, so it's of little surprise that Kate Moross has an inherent understanding of colour, often distorting and contorting it to her needs for our viewing pleasure. Here the snake perfectly sums up the vibe, much like the Jungle Book's Kaa: hypnotic, cheeky and bewitching. 

Kate's not too dissimilar. We were lucky enough to catch up with her and find out about her love of colour, how London Zoo became involved, and how she knows whether her project is a hit or not.

Luke Tierney: The promo is strangely hypnotic, was that an aim when you started?

Kate Moross: When the brief came through from the label - I talked to Ernest (Washed Out) before I put together the pitch. He spoke to me about the album and the thoughts and feeling behind the music. We discussed at length nature and the idea of creating a Paracosm - a detailed imaginary world involving humans and/or animals. We wanted it to be hyperreal, leaning towards the surreal. I mentioned the idea of shooting the animals in the enclosures at London Zoo, which we were both excited about, so I put together the treatment and the rest is history.

The footage used is very BBC animal documentary with a twist, was it hard to get the shots you wanted?

Now that's a compliment! As we wanted to create a unique collage of animals, we shot a range of footage, but ultimately when it came to the edit, the slow motion close ups were the most successful and worked best with the song. We also leaned towards the unconventional imagery, so it didn't feel too much like a nature film.

Do you feel also being a graphic designer / illustrator has affected your direction work?

As a designer/illustrator in film I am driven by concept, process and aesthetics, in contrast to narrative and story telling like most directors. I'm keen to make visual films that accompany music rather than short form stories. I like to make the music and the video fuse together so they become inseparable. I really enjoy this way of film making, it's simple and visceral you can tell when it's working and when it isn't, usually by the goose-bump test. The best result for me is when people watch one of my videos and tell me they feel like they're on drugs. Then I know I have really impacted on their senses.

You have previously played with colour to great effect and here again, would you say colour is a big influence in your art?

Whether it is vibrant spectrums or not present at all colour is at the forefront of my mind when I approach a project. This video was a perfect opportunity to really saturate and distort natural colours. There is a strong trend towards muted tones and flat colour at the moment, so it was really great to work with the colourist to create something that shifts and plays tricks on your eyes.

* Check out Luke Tierney's blog, Word Is Cheap, or his Twitter @wordischeap, for more thoughts on his favourite music videos.  

PRO Credits


DirectorKate Moross
Production CompanyStudio Moross
Director of PhotographyMarek Mysicka
Production AssistantAlexia Giorgi
1st ACBrendan Harvey
DITJames Ian Gray
Creative assistantOliver Chapman
ColouristDenny Cooper
Grading companyRushes
EditorKate Moross
Other creditsThanks: Rowena Fisher & London Zoo

Luke Tierney - 6th Aug 2013

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