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White Lies 'As I Try Not To Fall Apart' by The Trash Factory

Rob Ulitski - 14th Oct 2021

The Trash Factory - aka James Arden - buries White Lies singer Harry McVeigh in sand, in the promo for As I Try Not To Fall.

Sitting in the middle of a custom-made room, we see the artist surrounded by off-kilter decor and furniture, whilst a steady stream of sand pours onto his head.

Against the clock, Veigh initially seems to accept his fate, embracing the situation he finds himself in, before taking back control and rising above the mountain he was trapped by.

Immediately arresting and striking to watch, Arden experiments with various references and iconography, whilst using a metaphorical ticking clock to up the ante throughout.


Harry was a trooper. He found sand in his ears for days.

"White Lies are post-punk legends and I’ve been waiting for a new album, so I was really excited when this brief came through. Luckily, it was one of those ideas that came almost fully-formed.

"I thought about how people fight to lift themselves out of emotional downward spirals, and ways we could explore that visually. Harry's lyric - "I'm no special grain of sand" - stirred up something, and then it seemed obvious: we should bury him in four tonnes of the stuff… which actually went very quickly on the day! Harry was a trooper, he found sand in his ears for days.

"Before pitching, I’d just finished a marathon of Tarkovsky’s films with my DoP Ronnie (we felt like frauds because we’d never seen any before, so sat down and blasted through them) and inevitably some references crept through into the look and feel of this promo, particularly the room with the sandy floor from Stalker.

"I also looked at pictures from Kolmanskop, this amazing ghost town in Namibia where sand has blown into abandoned buildings and created these beautiful, surreal settings. Surprisingly we couldn’t afford to go there, so we built our own set in London instead.

"It was a really fun challenge to limit ourselves to the confines of the room. We shot entirely on one 35mm lens, often getting up close to Harry to bring out the fragility in his performance, and differentiated the camera language as the song played out to tell a story - locked-off frames in the verses become sweeping wides in the choruses, as we move towards Harry breaking free from the emotional weight explored in the lyrics, and the physical weight of the sand.

"This one was an absolute dream to shoot and the whole incredible team pulled it out of thin air. I might bury more artists in the future."

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Rob Ulitski - 14th Oct 2021


  • post punk
  • Sand
  • Art Direction
  • Set Design
  • Iconography
  • Performance

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The Trash Factory
Micheal Newton
Production Company
Executive Producer
Vanessa Mc Donnell
1st AD
Danny Stoker


Director of Photography
Ronnie McQuillan
Focus Puller
Jake Loft
2nd AC
Kristiana Zhekova
Ollie Smith


Lighting By Joe


Art Director
Wyndham Harris


Sophia Katyea


Scarlett Bovingdon
Editing company
White House Post


Alex O'Brien
Colour grade company


Post Producer
Polly Durrance


Director's Representation
OB Management


Redlight Management

Other credits


Ian Blackburn

Standby Art Director

Daniel McCarthy

Art Assistants

Selina Abdul Kareem, Matthew Allsop, Joshanne Dar, Blandine Blanchard

Clothing Designer


Editor Assistant

Eden Rae Read


Sonny Greaney, Philip Patton

Post Executive Producer (The White House)

Annabel Bennett

Post-producer (The White House)

Amanda Jenkins

Rob Ulitski - 14th Oct 2021

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