Luke Tierney - 23rd May 2014

Ben Dickinson's video for Vic Mensa's Down On My Luck takes on that familiar Groundhog Day and keeps it a completlely refreshing and very entertaining new spin. 

This time, it takes place in a club. We've all been there, those great nights you never want to end - and the terrible ones you wish never happened. It is this familiarity that makes the promo so accessible and enjoyable. It's a social critique on a good night out – or a bad night turned good.

So we asked Ben Dickinson where the idea came from, how Vic handled the concept – and to hear about Ben's exciting upcoming feature, Creative Control...

LT: The track fits the visuals perfectly, how did you come up with the idea for the promo?

BD: The idea came to me quickly, maybe after listening to the song twice. It's a great song, very complex, and I was inspired by the innovative structure, the repeating phrase "down on my luck" seemed to function as a RESET button, and Vic develops the idea further and further each time he begins anew. It's like a stream of consciousness that keeps getting interrupted, and every time it gets interrupted it changes. It reminded me of the painful process of learning from experience.

How many takes did you go through to take your concept from an idea into reality?

I think for some of those longer shots we were doing 15 or 16 takes. Honestly Vic nailed it every single time, but there was a lot of other moving pieces. If we'd had unlimited time I would have gone Kubrick and done 50 takes. But you don't get that kind of time in music videos. Fortunately the looseness serves the video well.

How did Vic and everyone else for that matter handle the, what I imagine was an, incredibly monotonous process? 

I don't remember it being monotonous, although maybe Vic remembers it differently! Honestly there were so many things to remember in each set up for Vic, for the steadicam operator (big ups to Dave Ellis), for the extras, that it was pretty engrossing. It was like playing a video game, and getting a little better each time. It was exciting.

The manipulation of speed is key. Was this achieved in-camera or in post?

We shot the entire video at 60 fps while Vic rapped at 24 fps, knowing that we would speed most of it up to 300% but dip back down to slo mo for key details. Easy trick.   

The dance routine provides a nice shift in focus. Was that the plan?

It was inspired by the song! There's a breakdown there and Vic says "get down!", so you know, you wanna see some folks get down. The dancers are the DANCE CARTEL, recent frequent collaborators of mine.

What else have you been up to recently? Plans for the future?

I'm finishing my second feature. Its called Creative Control and it takes place in the near future when Augmented Reality is becoming ubiquitous. Check it out!

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


DirectorBen Dickinson
ProducerNatasha Giliberti
Production CompanyGhost Robot / Black Dog Films
Director of PhotographyMatthew Santo
EditorJosh Dion
Executive ProducerMark De Pace and Zach Mortensen
CommissionerCaroline Clayton

Luke Tierney - 23rd May 2014

Related Content


Alphabeat's Fascination by Ben Dickinson

Straightforward unabashed joy in lots of colours. Now that takes balls, but boy, don't we need it right now. Good work, Ben Dickinson, for the fresh skinny-jean pop sound of Alphabeat. Straight out …

David Knight - 11th Jan 2008


NewVillager’s LightHouse by Ben Dickinson

Enjoyably bonkers stuff from Brooklyn art collective NewVillager by Ben Dickinson involving some amazing costumes made out of household items - crowns of twigs, tote bag skirts, broom-head shoulder …

David Knight - 23rd Feb 2011

Latest News