Published on December 9th, 2013 | by Loreana0
Director’s Cut: Le Galaxie – ‘Lucy is Here’
In the first of a new feature here on The Thin Air, Loreana Rushe speaks with Steve Mac Devitt and Greg Corcoran about their music video work, particularly the recent video they created for Le Galaxie’s latest single ‘Lucy is Here’. Mark Earley also provided us with behind the scenes photographs from the video shoot.
Hi there! Can you introduce yourself to us and a give us a little background on your work?
S: I’m Steve Mac Devitt and I’m a dublin born designer and director. Originally a graphic designer, I worked print and then web in the dot com days after college. It was there I started playing with flash and the animation/motion graphics took a hold of me. Essentially it was a way for me to be able to work with music and video with the skills I’d learnt in college. I’m not musical in any shape, but it’s one of my biggest passions in life, I’d say an addiction. I VJ as well and that gives me a creative outlet that works directly alongside live music. It has a lot of freedom in that I create a lot on the fly, mixing etc, and by its very nature it’s seen only once, I’ll never play the exact same set twice. Music videos are the opposite to this, something that gets polished and worked on a great deal as once it’s done it’s set and will remain like that every time it gets seen. It’s nice being able to play with both ends of it. Building light sculptures is the next thing for me, I just love the space it can create.
G: My background is in both film and TV. I have worked predominantly lighting TV shows; designing and programming lighting for bands on live TV shows etc. I have also have plenty of experience in writing, producing and directing short films, working on features and TV dramas. Music videos give me the chance to merge all of that in a way that opens up exciting avenues for collaboration. Also films can be laborious to get funded and made. Music videos happen much more quickly and give great room for experimentation. There’s something liberating and thrilling about blending images with music.
How did you get into directing music videos?
S: Simply out of knowing musicians and really just wanting to make music videos. They give you a creative freedom that allows you create work that you just couldn’t do otherwise. It’s a labour of love really. Both myself and Greg had been making videos independently of each other before we teamed up. We worked for each other on a few videos til we decided to join up and produce & direct together. It works very well as we came from different starting points and have different skill sets which helps in production. And we both want to create visually shit hot work.
How did working with Le Galaxie come about?
G: The initial contact was made on twitter of all places. Le Galaxie put out a call via twitter that went like this… “Irish visual artists. Who make wonderful music videos. Recommendations?”. And a fan of theirs, a mutual friend Conor, sent them my way. They got in touch, we met, we clicked and discussed the possibilities for a highly visual, striking video for their upcoming single ‘The Nightcaller’. Very quickly I was in but knew I couldn’t do it alone so I hastily got Steve on board!
S: Yeah this was the one we decided that it was time to team up full time. It was right after we did Alias Empire’s video for Lay Down together. I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time so it was a transatlantic job, Greg shooting the dancers and cutting the edit in Dublin and then me handling the post in the US. When I got back to Ireland I met Le Galaxie at the St. Patricks Day gig in The Button Factory where they were playing and I was VJing. They asked if I’d be interested in doing their tour visuals which turned into doing the 3D show at the Fringe Festival. We’ve just finishing up the video for the new single ‘Lucy Is Here’, have another video in the pipeline and some more visual goodies coming up.
What is the concept behind the ‘Lucy is Here’ video?
S: After the success of the ‘Nightcaller’ video, Le Galaxie came to us with some amazing visual references and wanted to use Suspiria, a 1977 Argento horror movie, as a starting point for a new video. It’s a pretty cool movie, the lighting is incredible, so we took it from there.
G: Also I’ve always been a fan of late 70’s/early 80’s movies like Hallowe’en and Assault on Precinct 13. John Carpenter is a hero of mine. I’ve wanted to do an atmospheric, cinematic short film along those lines for ages. The Lucy track is quite atmospheric and cinematic in its own right so it was a match made in heaven. Particularly as the lads in Le Galaxie are big film nuts too and so in tune with cinema history, they were completely on the same wavelength as us. So I set about drafting a treatment with all that in mind. I wanted to do something a bit mental, something highly visual and a little bit fucked up really. Something new and different for us, like nothing we’ve ever done before.
S: The video is highly stylised. In short the premise is this… a chase scene in an abandoned building involving a very sexy lady, a bunch of savage bastards, a pair of rabid dogs and a chainsaw.
G: There may well be a twist but we couldn’t possibly give that away here!
Can you describe the process behind creating the video?
G & S: This video was one where the band wanted to be involved in the concept and the execution. They were well on board with what was happening so there was a good deal of back and forthing fleshing out ideas. We wrote a treatment and sent that to them. Once we’d the initial idea tied down we had a chat with JJ Rolfe, our Director of Photography, to see what we’d need to pull it off. There was a lot of people involved in this, crew and cast we’d well over 20 people. There was a huge amount to figure out logistically as it’s our biggest production to date, so there was plenty of organisation required for this one.
Who else was involved in working on the video?
S: Lots. First up is our DOP, JJ Rolfe. JJ has shot our last four videos and we work really well with him. Le Galaxie showed us Lorcan Devaney’s make up work and we reckoned it’d work a treat for our savages. Holly O’Brien our costume designer I randomly met camping beside each other at Body & Soul. She had her portfiolio with her and I dug what I saw so when this came round I gave her a bell and she was game to come on board. Neill Fleming is an old actor friend who was able to arrange some savage bastards at a moments notice. Michael Donnelly came on board as Assistant Director and kept everything running smoothly. Really we’d a lot of people doing this for not a huge amount of money and they were all brilliant. We’ve been quite lucky that way. It really helps at 1am when you’ve been there for 11 hours already and everyone is still in good spirits!
G: There were also a bundle of people who helped make the video happen. Be it with equipment, time, knowledge, pointers or support. We couldn’t have done it without so much goodwill and pure human decency. In short… people are great!
How do you go about assembling a crew for your shoots?
G & S: It really depends on the idea and that depends on the song and the nature of the video itself. We’ve tried do something different with each one so they have all had different requirements. Sometimes they are smaller scale, lower budget. Other times it can expand to a large scale collaboration. We always aim to bring people onboard who share our vision but who can bring something of themselves to the table too. We are constantly amazed at how collaboration can steer a project in new and previously unimagined directions.
What’s the time frame on creating a production?
G & S: Again it’s all variable. Bands generally have launch deadlines they want to hit, but it all depends on how complicated the idea is, how big logistically the production, the edit, the post-production etc. Some videos have a lot of pre-production involved and others a lot of post. We always aim to turn projects around from treatment to launch quite quickly and move on to the next project but we’re not ones for compromise, we always want to get it done but done right.
Have you run into any difficulties on a shoot?
G & S: I’d say every time! Especially as we’re working on pretty tight budgets and tight timeframes. It’s important to be able to think on your feet, find a workaround or tweak the idea a bit when necessary. There’s always something as there are so many variables involved and so much going on logistically so you cut your cloth with what you’ve got. Our aim though is always to look after the people who come out to play with us.
Tell us something funny/weird that happened on set?
G & S: Lots of things just fell into place on this one. We did a casting call for our leading lady, we picked one we all agreed on and we’re going to give her a call on the Monday when out of the blue Patricia Olufemi got in touch and she just blew all the others out of the water. It was flurry of texts messages saying ‘hey this girl just got in touch – what you reckon’ ‘Yes’ ‘For sure!’ and tahdah – we’d a new leading lady.
Originally we were planning to shoot in a forest but we’d serious problems getting clearances for a suitable location for a night shoot. So bad in fact that 6 days before the shoot we had crew and cast all assembled and booked and just enough time to edit and produce the video for the deadline but we’d no location. By the Tuesday we’d two locations and by Wednesday we’d a choice of three.
What’s your favourite music video ever and why?
S: Agh, THAT question! Impossible to pick one so I’m going with one from my youth – Spike Jonze doing ‘Sabotage’ for the Beastie Boys. Check out Kahill Joesph’s new video for Flying Lotus, it’s sweet.
G: I have a soft spot for Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’ and Jamiroquai’s ‘Virtual Insanity’ both cool and brilliantly staged videos. I love also the Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ video as it’s one from my youth also! But I’m going to go with the Mark Romanek directed video for ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. So much feeling and emotion in a very simple but hugely affecting and effective video.
Who are your biggest influences?
S: Check out UVA and Anti-VJ – their work makes me want to make cool stuff.
G: I mentioned John Carpenter before. I’d have to add Kubrick, Scorsese, Tarkovsky and the Coen Brothers to that list. Music video wise Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry have been trailblazers and ones to look up to.
If you could direct a video for any band, who would it be?
S: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Karen O rocks and I love their videos.
G: I’d have to go with Daft Punk.
What’s your favourite video you’ve worked on?
S: I got two. Lucy for it’s scale and size of the production, it looks real well and was really ambitious. The other is Alias Empire’s ‘Black & White’. That was an idea with a lot of theory and a good deal of pre-production and when it all came together it worked so well. Was really happy to see an idea in the brain come to life.
G: I echo Steve’s thoughts there. Both videos are favourites and have been hugely enjoyable to make happen. Also there’s one I shot in Venice, for a track called ‘Handwritten Novel’ by a great band called Kill Krinkle Club that was a joy to make.
What are your plans for the future?
S: Onwards and upwards. This has been our busiest year yet so keep it going and see where it takes us. Plans to do more staging/light sculpture work as well as the Vjing. Work towards making this the full time job!
G: Keep experimenting. Keep on collaborating with cool people. Keep on making things happen on the mean streets of Dublin. Keep on trying to tell stories in new and different ways. Never stand still.
Are you currently working on any new videos?
G & S: Yeah we’ve another two in production at the moment and another couple waiting in the wings so that’ll keep us busy until Christmas and beyond. Also some cool visuals based projects and a short film or two down the line. Maybe even a new music based TV programme if we can convince those with the purse strings. So all systems go!
Have you any tips for budding music video directors?
S: Start. And once you get a bit of momentum grab hold with both hands and hang the fuck on.
G: Don’t settle for mediocre. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s never been easier to grab a camera, shoot and edit a video and get it out there to the world. So go out and make things happen. If you don’t do it someone else will.
Where can we see more of your work?