If you are a Metronomy, David Guetta, or Passion Pit fan, David Wilson may be the person behind one of your favorite music videos. Directing videos across all genres, Wilson is one to watch as he stretches his imagination in all directions to take viewers into a fantasy land. No David Wilson production is the same, as with each music video the director takes a chance and explores a different style and idea. Portable spoke with the director about his new video for Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk”, and why he chose video production as a career.
Portable: You make a lot of music videos. What is it about making music videos that you like so much?
David Wilson: Music videos are a unique form of film making. I feel like I’m in a pretty fortunate position of getting some of my more bizarre scripts made in to reality; which has been a real adventure. The process of making music videos is often very fast pace which means you have to rely on your instincts a lot. Directing music videos has taken introduced me to some of the most inspirational, wonderful people, and a community of young film makers all making their way in the world through these short, and often radically different bursts of visual experimentation. It’s this community and fulfilment that comes from pushing for visual experimentation that really excites me about making music videos at the moment.
P: What inspired you to go into music video production?
David Wilson: I guess my eyes were first opened to the possibilities of music videos via the Michel Gondry/Spike Jonze/Chris Cunningham Directors Label DVDs, and then the idea that I could actually start to work in the profession came from a talk by Pete Mellor from the Peep Show collective when I was studying at the University of Brighton
P: What would you say is your style of production?
David Wilson: My work tends to be based more in a fantasy world than reality. I want to take a viewer on an unexpected adventure.
P: Out of the many music videos you have made, which one is your favorite? Why?
David Wilson: Every video is almost like a chapter in a book. Each one is, in some way, a stepping stone to the next, or a benchmark in an adventure into film making. So, they’re all important to me. I’d say the piece I’m most proud of is the video I did for “The Bay” by Metronomy. That was a wonderful project.
P: What is one music video you wish you had made? Why?
David Wilson: I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this, but I still really wish I’d made the video for The Gossip’s most recent single “Move In The Right Direction”. I developed a script for the track, and it was a concept I was very proud of and would have been a lot of fun to create.
P: The latest video we have seen from you is Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk,” what was the inspiration behind this video?
David Wilson: I immediately connected to the rhythm of the track; that’s where my first spark of excitement came from. I was imagining a giant creature of some sort stomping through a woodland as I listened to the track. However, this really didn’t connect with the lyrics of the piece, but I liked the motion. The giant stomping. It reminded me of Osamu Tezuka’s 1984 animated short “Jumping”. I had always loved this film and thought it’d be incredible to recreate it for real, with a real camera jumping as higher and higher at every bounce.
I presented this concept of attempting to pull off this camera move to the band and they fell in love with it. Having sold the technique to Passion Pit it allowed me to develop the content of the film in collaboration with the band, and Michael (Angelakos, the frontman of Passion Pit) in particular.
P: You also make projections for concerts. How different is this work and process from that of your music videos?
David Wilson: The work I create for my concert projections tends to be more creatively freeing. The idea of creating concert visuals stemmed from the fact that I spend a lot of my free time making hand-drawn, looping animations as my personal work away from my commissioned pieces. This work is more of a cathartic release; achievable in a very short amount of time. This allows me to be loud, brash, and explore more abstract themes; anything from sex and sexuality to colour and pattern, without the visuals belonging to a grander narrative. It’s also a medium that allows for collaboration, like the series of visuals I created with Sam Potter last year.
P: The musicians that you have partnered up with for videos vary across all genres. How do you keep your vision and style when working with different genres?
David Wilson: The truth is that I don’t aim to. With every project I aim to do something very different to the previous pieces I’ve done before. It keeps my work constantly challenging to myself. However, my working process tends to remain very similar in each project. I’m obsessive over storyboarding and animatics, and I feel that often shapes my outcome very strongly. I never approach a shoot day with a ‘turn-up-and-grab’ attitude, and I always storyboard everything myself. I feel it’s my aesthetic choices and working process that ties my work together, no matter what the genre.
P: What do you like about music videos today? What do you dislike?
David Wilson: I like that music videos are so easily spreadable. I feel like there’s this growing community of music video directors that are able to communicate and share more openly with each other than ever before, especially on sites like Vimeo. I really like that. I dislike pre-roll on YouTube.
P: What can we expect from you in the future?
David Wilson: A new live show where I’ll be DJing and VJing. I’ll be taking the show to Latitude Festival in Suffolk next month, and also to a very special event with the British Council in Moscow.