David Wilson: “Green screen could never achieve that.”

28.06.09, Words by: Ruth Saxelby

Back when MTV was the centre of the universe (to this early-90s market town teenager anyway), only stadium-filling rockers and hip hoppers had the bucks and backing to enthrall with blockbusting promo videos. But with the online shift of the music industry, the playing field is wide open. So it’s no surprise that a new generation of music video directors are coming to the fore. The Louis Theroux-ish (have a look at this excellent early short film to see what I mean) David Wilson agrees the web has played a monumental part in the resurgence of truly exciting music videos.

“If you wanted to find a track before Spotify, you’d search for it on YouTube. It’s still the way most people search for music these days. It’s not like anybody waits for their favourite song to come on the TV or radio any more,” he says over the phone on a balmy Sunday. “Music videos today have just as big a part, if not bigger, in the promotion of music than they did [during the MTV years]. A good music video gets blogged and blogged.”

Wilson’s recent video for We Have Band ‘You Came Out’ is a perfect case in point. Shot over two backbreaking days, it’s a collaboration between Wilson and Wieden + Kennedy ad agency duo Fabian Berglund and Ida Gronblom. The awesome stop-frame animation proved ideal to enhance the hypnotic, theatrical and slightly spooky feel of the track. It’s also one of the most labour-intensive ways of shooting, as shown in this brilliant making of video. A nice add-on was the idea to put all 4000+ frames on Flickr. “We just thought it’d be fun to make it an open source for people to use and remix as they wish. We’ve already had some YouTube responses of the frames being reworked for different songs. My favourite is one that uses Queen ‘I Want To Break Free’. It’s pretty cool.”

It seems Wilson enjoys doing things the hard way, to incredible effect. His video for Scottish singer-songwriter Moray McLaren ‘We Got Time’ features the use of praxinoscopes, a 19th century animation device. “I like to challenge myself, and I love the illusion of in camera animation. It’s the response and excitement that’s created on the shoot days when people see this thing coming to life on playback that’s really exciting,” he says. “It’s something that green screen will never be able to achieve.”

So who would he love to work with? “I think there are certain artists that have been consistently innovative with their videos and music, such as Bjork or the Chemical Brothers. I’d also love to do a video for Peaches. I think her current album I Feel Cream is sensational. The same applies to The Horrors actually – that album really took me by surprise. So if any of you guys read this…”

David Wilson’s website

If you’re into We Have Band’s sound, have a read of our piece on them earlier this year.