Promonews - 13th June 2019

It's been a long time coming. Samuel Taylor directed three videos for London fourpiece Superfood in the spring and summer of 2018 - which unfortunately coincided with the band's break-up last year.

Consequently it has proved to be a tricky business getting these three videos released for the director who has also directed notable videos for Bloody Knees, Magic Gang, Dirty Danger and Crows in the last year or so. But over twelve months later, this fantastic trilogy for the tracks Where's The Bass Amp, Natural Supersoul and Double Dutch is finally out.

Sam Taylor tells us all about how he made these superbly uplifting, low-budget videos, that bring to life and visualise the defining impulse behind Superfood's music: it just makes you want to dance.
  

SAMUEL TAYLOR:

It all just kind of clicked, that it should literally be what the album feels like, which is wanting to dance.

Essentially I came to Superfood pretty late. I met them and became mates with them before I'd heard their music. And having met them and then listened to their music, it was very clear: their music is exactly them.

[Their last album Bambino came out in late 2017] I challenge people to listen to it and not want to move and dance to it. It's the most fun album you'll ever listen to.

We would meet up and hang out, and I kept on saying, "We need to do something." And then I was listening to it one day, walking down to catch the Tube, and I saw a businessman, with a suit, briefcase and headphones. He was bobbing his head and walking down the street. And kind of doing this little jump off the kerb. And I was just like, "Wait, is he listening to this album as well?" He's moving in the same kind of way, and he must be dancing to this album.

And it all just kind of clicked - a moment of like, "Oh, it should be dance." It should literally be what the album feels like, which is wanting to dance. So we picked the three that they wanted to do videos for. And I just wrote three very different stories, that all have this kind of link. 

I'm a big fan of that you can have dance, trying to not necessarily make it feel too real. In the sort of way that they would do it in a musical, like Singin' in the Rain, sort of chatting, but then the music kind of comes in, and then they start dancing. And I really like that sort of old school musical way of doing things.

So we just applied that to all three, and kind of went for this approach. And also tried to get a nice range of ages, and range of sort of different places in society.

Video: Where's The Bass Amp?

Synopsis: A strait-laced London businessman finds it hard to keep himself from dancing as he makes his way around the City, while listening to Superfood... 

ST: With Bass Amp, Henry [Napier-Brown, the producer] got a street permit, and we went down to Liverpool Street first thing in the morning, with a load of rolls of 16mm film, with Jordan Buck (the DoP), and, few other mates – and Ally Green, the choreographer, and director in her own right, who's amazing.

And we just kind of went down first thing in the morning with the guy, and just got him to listen to the track. And pretty much he just walked up and down the street. He hadn't really heard the track up to this point. And he had his own complete style. And Ally and I, we were just shouting out things to him as he was walking down the street. It was entirely improvised on the day. We just made it up as we went along essentially.

Security got pretty lairy with us for shooting outside the NatWest

It was all actually shot hand-held, because you couldn't put anything down. Security got pretty lairy with us when we were shooting outside Nat West building. So we just kind of carried on shooting. It was a day of bumping into businessmen, and trying to make mischief, essentially. It was fun. 

Video: Double Dutch

Synopsis: The lovers on a park bench, overlooking London. A homage on the Hollywood musical, rather like a London version of the La La Land. 

ST: Double Dutch and Bass Amp were shot back-to-back, with basically the same team. We shot Double Dutch the day after Bass Amp.

The location was this little gem of a view of London that Henry found out of nowhere. It's like a small park, up near Greenwich. It's kind of a bit hidden, but you get this viewpoint, where you can just see the entirety of London.

We were absolutely blessed with that sunset

I think we did two days recceing, driving around, trying to find the right place with a fantastic view. Obviously so many of them have been done before, like Hampstead Heath. We were trying to find something that hadn't really been shot before, and this was the last one we visited. We just walked up, and we were like: "Yeah, I mean this is definitely it."

We got there reasonably early in the morning: just me, Ally, and the two dancers at first. We sat down on the benches, and worked out the thing in the day, so we had a rough idea of what we were doing. We did a bit of rehearsal, but basically we just sat there from 10am til sunset, and worked out the dance.

This was in about April last year, and we were absolutely blessed with that sunset in that video. We had no idea it was coming; it was raining in the morning, and the weather was very up and down. It actually snowed about twenty minutes after we did the sunset take. Then we waited for snow to go, and then we put the spotlight on and did the night take.

It was a really weird one, because I'm so used to talking during the shoot. If I'm operating the camera - which is quite often - I'm constantly trying to excite people, and be really involved in the process of creating the kind of movement of the scenes. But with this one I just sat by a monitor, and was just watching this amazing performance play out.

Video: Natural Supersoul

Synopsis: The little girl who visits the park playground with her mum, and is a bit ostracised from the others, but it all works out in the end...

That one was done a lot later. We basically ran out of money after the first two – we spent it all on shooting on film. It always just seemed like the band weren't going to put them out any time soon, so we took our time with it a bit. 

I was like, "We don't have enough money to do another one on film, so how do we go about doing this third one?" In the end, it became a combination of iPhone 8 and Super 8mm. Which is quite a weird mixture.

We wanted to start with the mom walking the young girl into the playground, as a sort of touchstone, to the beginning of the story, and jumping from an adult world to the girl's world. So we did that with the change from phone footage to film. Format was the thing that's led that, a little bit.

But it meant we had the advantage of being able to to run around with such a small bit of kit. We could work with the kids a lot quicker, and it was much easier than having a big bit of kit. I shot all of that, and Ally essentially directed a lot of it with me as we went. We just played games with them, and managed to get little moments. And then I just ran around with an 8mm camera, and grabbed all the other kind of more fantastical bits.

Shooting that way is essentially trying to get out the way of the story, a little bit. You do that as much as possible, and that one felt very much like that was what we had to do: try to allow these kids be as fun as possible without stepping in the way too much.

I suppose I'm not afraid of being quite cheesy when I want to. This is cheesy, but it's so paint by numbers, sort of, that it's actually quite an enjoyable process to see it play out a little bit. Then when it happens, it's kind of genuine enough. You're not turned off by it.

• Samuel Taylor is represented by Agile Films

*This feature is a Promonews and Agile Films co-production 

PRO Credits

Credits

GafferHamza Twomey
DirectorSamuel Taylor
ProducerTommy Banham
Director of PhotographyJordan Buck
Focus PullerGary Long
Clapper LoaderMilo Brown
SteadicamMatt Alsop
ProducerHenry Napier-Brown
ChoreographerAlexandra Green
1st ADElle Lotherington
Camera AssistantDaniel Hawkins
EditorSamuel Taylor
Lead actorKuldip Singh-Barmi
DancerBradley Salter
DancerEmma-Louise Stansall
Other creditsCAST: Maxi, Kaelan, Asia, Amira, Matilda, Zoe, Nayasa, Ben, Caleb, Alba

Promonews - 13th June 2019

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