Some bands just make it big, and make it big frustratingly quickly, don’t they? Consider this: British five piece Zulu Winter release their first single in November 2011 as relatively unknown, indie-Brit dudes; By May the following year they’re supporting Keane on a UK tour, they were the first announced headliner for Australia’s beloved Splendour in The Grass, and now they’ve got an impeccably shiny, totally beguiling and extremely cinematic clip to accompany their latest single, “Silver Tongue”. Those lucky bastards. And although the thought of “Silver Tongue” instinctively triggers Lisa Simpson and Hans Sprungfeld, what filmic artistry/magicianary director Alex Turvey has spun over this clip is nothing short of ravishing (yep we just called a video clip ravishing: ravishing LIKE A BEAUTIFUL LADY, OK?).
Apart from making excellent music videos, Turvey also spends his time making fashion videos, short films, commercials and art, i.e. he’s basically a manic artiste that we’re all jealous of (The Independent called him one of the “15 Creatives Who Will Define The Future of British Arts”, and his incredible website full of beautiful things is pure, jealousy-soaked torture for any budding filmmaker.
We’re not sure what floored us most about this clip; was it that car and those outfits, or was it the overwhelming feeling of being able to understand what pain has gone through those scarred characters? Was it the piercing reality — the full footed, whole bodied reality of it — from glazed over eyes and desperate stares, or was it just that glorious red and blue? Or was it simply the feeling of dissatisfaction at its end, because we felt as though we knew just a bit too much about that couple and that we deserve to, need to, know more? Whatever it was: a flawless clip makes for a floored audience.
We picked the brains of Alex Turvey mostly because we were dying to know, “How do you make such beautiful things?!?!!?” Alas, he was a little more eloquent, a little less hysterical, than we managed to be:
Portable: Had you always wanted to create a clip like “Silver Tongue” and had the idea before, or did the project come up and then Zulu Winter/”Silver Tongue” spark the idea?
Alex Turvey: I have been looking to create a cinematic music video for quite some time so there are a couple of ideas in the film that I had been waiting to bring to life with the right track, but 90% of what you see on screen was written specifically for “Silver Tongue” as a response to the music.
P: The art direction is amazing in your clip, how closely did you work with the art department/how important is that element in bringing a music video together?
Alex Turvey: Thank you! Closer than close is the answer to that one. Every single frame you see on screen I have obsessively illustrated by hand storyboarded and designed before the shoot.
When I first started working in film I would play every single role in production, even down to the effects (I actually did 95% of the effects and compositing on “Silver Tongue”, which hurt immensely!). I still design all of the sets, costumes and effects in my work, but the bigger the project the more crew you need.
I worked very closely with my good friend Art Director / Artist Christopher Jarratt to bring “Silver Tongue” to life. He has a good understanding of how I work and tolerates my absurd requests.
P: The clip has some really cinematic moments. What films and directors did you feed off (inspirationally) for the clip?
Alex Turvey: Although I didn’t directly reference him there’s a slight Lynchian vibe shining through unintentionally, as well as the more blatant tip of the cap to Hitch.
P: Have you developed the story and characters in the clip deeper than what the video reveals? Who is this couple? What are their scars?
Alex Turvey: I’m completely OCD when it comes to film preparation, so I ended up developing an unessercarily epic story behind each character considering how minimal the performance actually is.
I wanted to make sure both the amazing Anna Walton and Charlie Cattrall had enough background to bring life to their character and interpret the story in their own unique way.
The opening scene relies entirely on the subtleties and body language between the couple, I needed the tension between them to be real so we purposefully kept them apart on set to help create the awkwardness.
There are clues in the video as to why we are witnessing Charlie’s internal unraveling but I wouldn’t want to give it up, I like that the viewer can come to their own conclusion.
P: You’ve done music videos before, what do you find so special about the medium? How are the challenges different from, say, making a short film, or a fashion film?
Alex Turvey: The process of bringing any idea to life for me is an incredibly rewarding one. Its an amazing feeling when, on the actual shoot day you realise that you are stood inside a physical representation of an idea that only existed in your head a few weeks ago.
If, like the rest of us, you’ve fallen a bit head over heels with Turvey’s work, why not hop on over to London and check out his solo show? Guaranteed to be amazing.
All (above) film production stills by Richard Johnson.