Glass Animals 'Tangerine' by David Wilson
Rob Ulitski - 8th Dec 2020
David Wilson explores the breakdown of a nuclear family in his oddball promo for Glass Animals' Tangerine.
Taking place on a surreal car journey - with vocalist Dave Bayley playing a Mother, Father and child at various ages - the story follows a typical modern day life-cycle... Boy meets girl, they have a kid, get annoyed with each other and end up splitting, just for the process to repeat when the kid reaches adolescence.
The poignant message is wrapped in a layer of quirky imagery, with subtle visual effects allowing the three characters in tandem.
The execution is top-notch, and a clever way to get around social distancing and the various challenges that have carried over from the year so far.
It’s amazing how restrictions can often lead to really exciting developments.
"This is possibly my favourite script I’ve ever written. Tangerine was such a hard nut to crack. The initial brief from the band was very different. The request was to have children run riot or to have kids to direct the video themselves! The request that soon became impossible because of budget, time (child licenses!!) and COVID restraints. So, after exploring two scripts based around the idea of kids, I looked to the lyrics to see where else this could be taken.
"The key for the label and the band was that this was seen as a fun, upbeat and happy video. The initial impact of the song is that it was fun. However, this could not be a video that was complete fun-and-games. The lyrical content meant the song was far too layered for that. I needed to compose a treatment that worked both on the surface level of fun, but also became as multi-layered as the track itself.
"When talking with Dave (Bayley) about the concept for his lyrical content, my initial assumption was that the lyrics were about an argument with a partner. Dave then stated that it was also a reflection the relationship that he has with himself. This really struck a chord with me.
"I had been nurturing a short film script for the past year or so. The script was based entirely in a car where the cycle of a lifespan occurred over the length of the film. A kind of combination of the film Night On Earth (1991) and the board game The Game Of Life. It’s amazing how restrictions can often lead to really exciting developments. I don’t think I would have naturally drawn the conclusion of Dave playing all the characters - after all, Glass Animals has three other band members. But a car is a confined space (COVID), and the budget was tight for this very ambitious idea.
I filmed the entirety of the video on an iPhone with two actor friends a few days before the shoot.
"I wrote a draft of the script where Dave played all the characters, purely to be production-friendly. But then it became apparent how well this fit with the duality of the song’s lyrical content; this video could now be seen equally as the relationship between four different people but also a communication between different parts of the same person.
"After showing some key references, such as BBC children’s TV show Big Babies to reassure the label and band that this was not going to become a dark, Chris Cunningham/Aphex Twin monster, but instead be tone of extreme playfulness and fun, the project was green lit.
"This is a narrative video with lip-sync. There’s no room to slip things around. The construct of the film had to be water tight. So much so that I had filmed the entirety of the video on an iPhone with two actor friends, Josh Glanc and Luke Rollason, a few days before the shoot. I was hoping this would also show me where I could drop some shots in my horrendously long shot list… I couldn’t. Coverage was key.
"With a 42 shot list and a 12 hour day (a COVID test delayed Dave’s arrival to 11am the morning of the shoot), that iPhone animatic became our life saver. The animatic allowed us to see the jigsaw puzzle of the day, and navigate all the camera positions (including a lengthy lock-off shot for the wides of the car where you see all the characters at the same time). It also became an invaluable resource for Dave, whose boldness to approve this script and go for it, having no previous acting experience, will always be something I’m so deeply grateful for.
"Dave could sit in the car with the animatic playing on the iPad as we did final checks around him, allowing him to understand where he needed to be looking and when, and more importantly giving him little cues for performance (although the best stuff always came from him… Dave’s very good!)
"Ruben Woodin Dechamps, the film’s cinematographer, excelled at working within the unenviable restrictions of needing to achieve the impression of a moving car moving at night in a flagged off, black studio setting. I had placed pretty severe creative restrictions on him in order to help the video to not become dark or moody; one of my main references for lighting was a pretty ghastly screen grab from mid-90s Saturday Night Live. I will always be grateful that he never bolted for the door! We embraced a Dogville aesthetic on this film.
"Huge thanks to everyone involved in this project."
Rob Ulitski - 8th Dec 2020
- Paul Molloy
- Art Director
- Stephanie Williams
- Richard Fearon
- Colour grade company
- Director's Representation
Melissa Roberts & Suzan Mustafa
Mix & Overlay
Jonny Gaskell & Jeff Celis
DIT: Duncan Lawford
Grip: Liam Hartney
Art Director Assistant
Wind Shield Removal
Hair & Make-Up Artist Assistant
Rob Ulitski - 8th Dec 2020