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How a refugee from Iran made Elton John's Rocket Man video

David Knight - 4th July 2017

In may three new videos for three classic Elton John tracks were released, as the culmination of The Cut, a competition timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's songwriting partnership.

There was a brief for each song. Tiny Dancer would be a narrative video, Bennie & The Jets would be driven by its choreography. And the video for Rocket Man was to be animated. The commissioned video for Rocket Man was created by Majid Adin, an Iranian filmmaker now living in England as a refugee, having travelled overland to the UK and spending some time in the Calais jungle before making the final leg of his journey, and Blink director Stephen McNally. 

Majid first heard about The Cut from a friend he’d met in the Calais Jungle last year. With less than a week until the deadline, Majid’s last minute submission for Rocket Man was made up of a roughly sketched animatic and a cover letter. Although crude in its execution, his incredibly personal response to the film captured the imaginations of the judges and was chosen above entries from 50 different countries.

Majid was introduced to Blinkink who paired him with animation director Stephen McNally to help him achieve his vision for the film. With Majid’s limited English, the pair began sketching as a way of communicating their ideas. Adriana, a Farsi-speaking producer, helped translate ideas within the team.

With just 7 weeks to deliver over 7000 frames of predominantly hand drawn animation, it was all hands on deck from the start. The film had a strong team of six animators, five assistant animators, two compositors, a character designer, a background designer, an editor, a producer and a storyboard artist, all working concurrently.

7 weeks later, and both the film and Majid’s passport were ready just in time for it’s premiere in Cannes – an incredible end to an epic journey for the directors.

• Elton John (above) with all the filmmakers of the three commissioned videos of The Cut competition, including Majid Adin and Stephen McNally (second right and third right).

David Knight - 4th July 2017


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