Director: Kate Haplin
Artist: Mark Wilkinson
Video: Come on home
How were you approached for the job?
I work as an art director on the side and had done the production design and costume design on Mark’s last music video ‘Another Necklace’. So after that project I was offered the opportunity to pitch for his next two music videos.
What inspired you on your idea for the video?
The idea actually came to me straight away and was very loosely based on the first short film I wrote and directed while at film school. It also dealt with an elderly man losing his wife and going into a state of shock and denial (however I did replace a blow up doll with a dance hall full of spandex attired ‘senior citizens’) – so they’re pretty different.
I was conscious from the outset that I wanted to avoid a clichéd break-up premise, as I think it would have felt overly sentimental. The music had a strong repetitive beat and ‘boppiness’ that I felt lended itself to a degree of quirkiness and playfulness. I’m also a huge fan of ‘daggy’ dancing and the 80s in general, and have always wanted to shoot something that incorporates the two.
I see the dance scenes as a metaphor for lost youth, vitality and freedom – I liked the idea of juxtaposing a crazy, colourful world filled with big characters to a blue, lonely and isolated world, representing his grief and displacement once his wife of 50 years has passed.
My visual inspiration came largely from Wes Anderson and Pedro Almodóvar.
Tell us about the production process?
After Mark signed off on the project, it was a matter of me breaking up the song into ‘scenes’. Given that this was essentially a dance piece that would be heavily dependent upon the moves and cuts fitting the beats, this project required a degree of specificity that I wouldn’t ordinarily enforce on a project.
Location scouting came first – I wanted to find the right space that was reminiscent of the 80s and aerobics videos. Balmain Town Hall was the right fit and formed the colour palette, so I started sourcing costumes and dressing props. Costumes proved harder and more expensive than anticipated.
Then casting. Which luckily wasn’t too difficult, as I had worked with most of the actors before.
I worked with an awesome choreographer; Megan Guest, who I think ironically found the job challenging, as it was strange for her that I was constantly saying: “it needs to be simpler and daggier… and we need more hot potato”.
We recorded the dance and sent it out to the cast in advance and then did a rehearsal a few days before the shoot. A few of the cast had bad hips and knees, which meant making changes to accommodate which was all pretty hilarious at the time, quite a surreal atmosphere.
The shoot day was pretty manic in the sense that we were fighting the clock, but that’s standard. The atmosphere on the day was really positive and fun… it was just really playful.
What were the limitations you faced with the production?
An insanely tight budget, which meant I was wearing the hat of producer, director, art director, wardrobe and editor, which is never ideal. It was a one-day shoot, so we were pushed for time on the day, and ultimately I had to compromise on some shots.
What was the project turnaround?
I think I had a couple of weeks for pre and then after the shoot we had the video cut and graded within about 10 days. I was balancing the post on this with the pre for Mark’s other music video (which was far more ambitious), as well as another project I shot the week after, so it was an intense couple of weeks.
Who were the other key collaborators & have you worked with them before?
I had worked with the whole crew before. My DP was Dale Bremner, who I have collaborated with on many projects now. Sam Powyer was a kick-arse camera assist and an amazing DP in his own right. Hair & Makeup was by the amazing Nicola Besse. She’s a pro and an awesome, calm energy to have on set.
The two lead actors, Peter McAllum and Tricia Youlden, reprised their roles from the short and I had worked with most of the other actors previously on other projects. Jude Kham, who played the instructor, is an old friend of mine who I directed in a fashion show years ago and will never forget how she stole the limelight. She is larger than life!
What did you shoot on?
We shot on an Arri Alexa, with vintage lenses, as we didn’t want it to look too crisp and wanted it to feel almost like you were watching a genuine 80’s aerobics video on VHS.