Next Generation

Young director uses film for music promo

David Wilson/Metronomy
David Wilson/Metronomy

David Wilson has recently directed a music promo for the band Metronomy. Unusually this was shot using 35mm film rather than digital. David explains his choice of shooting medium.

“For the whole of my career to date, I have used digital cameras,” says David “I come from a generation of directors who shot their first film on the RED camera and I’ve never really considered using film before. A couple of years back I won a ‘Sweet 16’ package in the Best Budget Video category in the UK Music Video Awards but I sat on this prize considering it to be rather special and also luxuriously expensive. When the Metronomy promo for ‘The Bay’ came up in May this year, I decided it was time to use the Sweet 16 package on this and I can honestly say it has taken it to the next level.”

“The promo involved going to Torquay in the south west of the UK and making it look like a fictionally glamorous exaggeration of what was there,” continued David. “My main reference was Elton John’s iconic promo for ‘I’m Still Standing’ along with ‘70s fashion photography from artists such as Guy Bourdin. We worked in collaboration with the English Riviera Tourism Company who provided accommodation, food and locations for free and even contributed towards the helicopter shots. The promo was shaping up to be quite an epic so I decided to upgrade my Sweet 16 prize to 35mm. I used a combination of two stocks KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 5207 and KODAK VISION2 50D Color Negative Film 5201.”

“The shoot, by cinematographer Richard Stewart, wasn’t straightforward; it involved lots of beauty shots with models in swimwear as well as ever-shifting light with the sun coming in and out of cloud . This was something where the amount of flexibility we had in the grade was incredible. The way film handled the natural colours and the amount of colour information enabled us to make a shot with full cloud cover at 8pm fit almost comfortably to a shot taken at midday in the beaming sunshine.”

“I think the main charm of the promo is the natural chemical reaction that’s formed the images and the natural softness where it’s needed. Video can often be just that bit too crisp whereas film reads more like the eye does and your brain definitely connects with that.”

“Sadly film seems to be losing presence in the music promo field,” David concluded. “Not so much for budgetary reasons but more because fewer and fewer new directors have had the chance to shoot on film and understand it. From the many favourable comments I’ve had about the Metronomy promo, it’s clear that it stands out from other digital videos and I can see that these aesthetic values may spark a renaissance in film as directors tire of the digital look.”