DANIELS Make A 3D Music Video For Foster The People (Director Q&A)
Earlier this year we hooked up directing duo DANIELS with experimental rock group Battles to direct the music video for the track “My Machines” off the band’s sophomore release, Gloss Drop. DANIELS brought their signature freewheeling absurdist aesthetic to the video, which featured a guy falling down a mall escalator for the duration of the 3:58 min song, as well as a guest appearance by Gary Numan.
The video, which was produced through The Studio in collaboration with Warp Records, received many accolades—it’s appeared on several Best Music Video lists and even garnered two very enthusiastic thumbs up from Beavis and Butthead.
Now, the DANIELS are back with a new music video for Foster The People‘s "Don’t Stop" (above). Created for Nintendo 3DS, the video marked the directors’ first time working in 3D (though the online version is, sadly, only 2D) and stars actress Gabourey Sidibe of Precious fame.
We spoke with one half of DANIELS about the project and to find out what else the guys have up their sleeves for the months to come.
The Creators Project: Can you tell us a bit about the concept and inspiration for the video?
Daniel Scheinert from DANIELS: This project is a once in a million opportunity. A great band wants to make a 3D video for Nintendo… So we came up with at least 40 ideas before settling on the dumbest one. A car chase movie where the lead characters literally don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop…
What was your experience like creating a 3D music video? What does 3D add for the viewer?
The whole genesis of the project was “this is a 3D music video for Nintendo.” That’s why it’s an action movie. That’s why it’s shot the way it is. That’s why there are so many stunts.
Oftentimes 3D movies are spectacular but sterile. They’re super slick. But 3D can also make a raw movie feel even more authentic. You can feel like you’re there in the action. You can feel how close to the explosion the actors are, you know? Our favorite 3D footage we’ve ever seen is from Jackass 3D. Amazing stuff! So we wanted a raw action-packed homemade 3D video. So when you hold it in your hands you think, that looks like they had fun. We wanted to humanize a video game. This live racing game feels real!?
We figured we had to sidestep the whole, not as good as Avatar trap somehow.
Had you worked in 3D before? What sort of special technical/production needs did shooting in 3D require?
This was our first 3D project. So we put ourselves through 3D film school during pre-production. And our friends at DRS (Digital Revolution Studios) helped us with all the 3D needs.
Making a 3D film is like making an experimental film. It felt like we were doing a segment for ‘The Five Obstructions.’ Your assignment: make a car chase movie, BUT you have to film with two cameras at once, they must record perfectly in sync, they must zoom and focus perfectly in sync, they cannot shake, and if you want a nice camera, the rig will weigh 90 lbs and cost your entire budget. Then, when it’s done, turn it 2D and show it to everyone in the world. Good luck! Then to make things harder on ourselves, we did everything they told us not to do. Shake the camera, do VFX, shoot through glass, have a long shot list and edit pretty quickly.
But that was our favorite part—the challenge, the insanity of it all.
What’s the story with Gabourey Sidibe? How did she come to be involved in this production?
We wrote her into the treatment without any knowledge about her at all. She’s the perfect anti-hero. At first thought, we were brilliant for taking ‘Precious’ and having her play a completely different character. Then we realized this is the exact same character. We pretty much wrote Car Chase Precious… SPOILER ALERT this is the plot of our movie AND Precious:
We meet a nervous and sympathetic wreck at the beginning. Someone discovers how beautiful and strong she is and teaches her to believe in herself (Mark Foster / Paula Patton), but once she is empowered to make her own decisions, she strikes out on her own into the great unknown. The End! (Sorry, Saphire.)
Your videos are always very humorous and lighthearted but at the same time, a little dark and violent. What is it about this combination that appeals to you so much?
We don’t think about it. Our criteria for writing is literally, did other Daniel laugh or get excited when I said that thing? If so, we should probably do that. But I think there’s a trend to our work so far because, we’re pessimistic romantics. We are lighthearted fun-loving guys who think the world is pretty fucked up and crazy. And there’s a philosophy under that. Learn to laugh at life, ‘cause then you can stare life’s challenges in the face more objectively without crying as much. Making movies is our therapy. Sorry you guys have to watch it all. And we’re very sorry to the folks we’ve tricked into paying for it.
Your latest music video for Battles has ended up on a number of Best Music Video lists this year (congrats!). What do you think makes a truly great music video?
I think good videos have…. Energy and Guts. Like Red Bull inside of intestines. You gotta have visual and emotional energy (whether it’s funny, cool, or depressing) it needs enough energy to affect the audience. And then it needs to be risky. Confident bands and directors get together and do something scary and unusual.
What was your reaction to seeing the Battles vid on Beavis and Butthead?
Unbelievable, uncontrollable joy. The greatest honor anyone has every bestowed upon us. Those two idiots are our target audience, and they loved it!
We’ve had an unbelievable year of good fortune. We’ve received lots of accolades this fall. But Beavis and Butthead is the thing that made it all worth it. [It’s] the thing I’ll tell my kids, or the thing I’ll tell random kids when I’m talking to random kids.
What are you working on now?
We haven’t shot anything this fall because we’ve been writing. Trying to develop those long term projects just in case we aren’t a flash in the pan and someone wants to make a movie or a TV show with us one day. But now we’re back into the fire shooting a new short film this week, a new music video next month, pitching on commercials, and our 2nd Foster the People video is due out in 2012 as well which we’re REAL excited about. Also, we’ve been answering interview questions for awesome organizations that support artists and publish articles about their work, but we wish we were better at it. Oh well.