Everything Looks Better With A Fisheye

A dark, grim, twisted and scary music video for underground beat makers Punkture Sluts had us all running around in circles.

Last year I worked with the band “Punkture Sluts” on an excellent photo shoot involving zombies in the 50’s for their EP, producing some striking images. Fast forward a year, and I’m looking at Directing equally striking images for their first music video for track “No Hopah”. The band consist of Babs (vocals), Steve (beeps, clicks, bass and guitar) and Nick (Drums, incidentally he is also the drummer for Cornershop who I shot a video for in 2011!), they had some set pieces in mind that they wanted to work in, such as a scary clown, fire jugglers, and ninjas at one point. Collaborating together on a mood board on Pinterest (love working this way) we fished out various images to begin moulding the look. The tone of the track is really dark, based around inner turmoil and fears, being trapped in a horrible and disturbing place in every sense of the word, exploring the idea of the circular narrative to life. I started thinking about really dark, trippy and experimental images to match, and looked into the Orwell’s 1984 and a kind of Alice In Wonderland as a starting point. The idea of dystopia, grimness, Room 101 the room where you face your biggest fears; coupled with running (big fan of running in music videos, or indeed any videos), falling in and out of doors, meeting strange characters helped as a starting point. I looked at loads of different videos from Jim Jarmusch, Bjork to the master of the fantastical and weird Michele Gondry for inspiration.

Our location was a burnt out building in Haggerston, East London, which looked like it could have been a nice building back in the 1960s, but was certainly not fit for purpose now. It was dirty, grimy, freezing, the wallpaper was falling off the walls, there was a cage (?!), a scary boiler room and a lift that none of us dared to go into, so it completely fit our milieu so did half the job for us! I was fully crewed up with a mix of talent I’d worked with before and some I hadn’t. Art Director Beth, did a good job of making the location look even more depraved then it already was, Gaffer/AC Paul was on hand to light the darkness, Hair and Makeup Artist Shiv did a great job of making up the band with terrifying carnival-esque faces, Adam provided some assistance and cooked us all food (massively important!) and Emma documented the process with BTS stills.

I had a few new toys to shoot with, my shoulder cam rig which helped me shoot hands free if I wanted to, allowed me to really get most shots I wanted, it was certainly less dancing then a poor man’s steady cam, but I had to learn to control my breathing properly as it pressed up against my ribcage. It was also useful for a Prodigy-esque shot with Babs as we turned it on her face and had her run up the stairs with it like an cheap dolly shot. For more free moving handheld, I used a rubber pistol grip that I had unscrewed from an old 8mm Brownie camera which works great. However, my most exciting toy was the beautiful Fisheye lens I rented, the Nikon 10.5mm AF f/2.8G ED distorted everything to give an unsettling and warped look, it doesn’t leave you much room for composition, so it meant clearing more of the shot to make everything fit in frame, no errant lighting stands allowed! We swiftly concluded that everything looked better with a Fisheye.

It wouldn’t be anything I’ve directed unless I’ve gotten my talent to run around corridors and stairs, so there was quite a lot of that happening. I thought I’d make it that extra bit challenging this time by flashing lights on and off at various points, so that was fun. For me, I’d imagine not so much for them. We utilised the cage (yes, the cage) to great effect using it in 2 different scenes one where we tied Babs up imprisoned by her own thoughts (profound) with debris strewn across the floor and a wash of green/blue in the background. The other we had Anna, who is a Hula Fire Dancer (awesome) doing… well… a Hula Fire Dance, which is an incredible thing to watch; terrifying and sweltering though, when you are less then 2 feet away from the flames in a cage filming it and have no depth perception at all.

I cut the footage of Anna together quickly for the next day, where we projected it onto the walls of the old wallpapered rooms. The band walked in and out of rooms, witnessing various strange things and versions of themselves, including the projected fire dancing of Anna. Projection is a great art technique for film, it’s light and movement and adapts itself to different textures to suit the mood. Other horrifying set pieces included Steve as an evil clown (clown’s are generally terrifying when you dig a little deeper aren’t they) whose makeup starts to melt away in a time-lapse sequence. We achieved this by starting full made up and Shiv squeezing water on Steve’s face periodically with a bit of smudging and the timer set to 3 shots every few seconds, this took a bit of practice to work out how long it would take for Shiv to move her arm out of the way in time. Well done to Steve for sitting zen like whilst this happened with a light pointed straight at the back of his head.

Other horrors included Babs in a latex suit trying to drown herself in a bath, a bit of clever trickery with editing, a plastic tupperware pot, lights and a mirror to see what on earth we were shooting. Nick opted to have a skull face and play the finger knife game (DO NOT try that at home kids, unless maybe you’re using a rubber hand and a spoon). After 2 very intense days, we cleared out and I set to work on my now seemingly standard practice of editing large blocks of footage, cutting them up into teeny tiny parts and overlaying them over each other again and again so they look a bit experimental. Thanks to my excellent crew who made this as smooth as it could be and the band for their patience.

Wrap time: 8/9pm-ish (within margin of Daniel error)
Wrap photos: 2
Half Time Food: Amazing foods conjured up by Adam, pasta, salads and various organic
Cast or Crew Injuries/Deaths: 0 (not counting the implied undead characters in the video itself)
People running in a DDM film: 3

Because I’m massively lazy sod, I’m writing this project write up posthumously, and things have happened since 2012. The video was released by the band at a special launch event in Brick Lane’s Cafe 1001 and it was also official selection for 3 film festivals- The London Short Film Festival, Aesthetica Film Festival, York and The International Short Film Festival Detmold, Germany. Here it is on the inter webs for all to enjoy.

Punkture Sluts- beat makers .

Beth Robinson - Art Director .

Paul T - Gaffer/AC .

Shiv Ashman - Hair M/Up .

Emma Brown - BTS Stills .

Anna the Hulagan - Hula Fire Dancer .

Using Format