Director: W.A.M. Bleakley

Artist: DMA’s

Video: The End

Director: W.A.M. Bleakley

Production Company: Curious Film 

Post Production: The Editors

How were you approached for the job?

I’m a massive fan of the DMA’s – they’re one of my favourite bands. I treated on a clip for their last album, but didn’t get the gig. So I was super keen to work with them on their new album.

Just before their new album was released, my friend Mason from DMA’s introduced me to their manager Leon, and I treated on The End shortly after.

What inspired your ideas?

For me, the song was about feeling lost at the end of a relationship and how difficult it can be to pull yourself back together. I had an idea of lonely strangers sharing a moment of togetherness at night – we all felt this was a solid thematic match. Pacing wise, the song picks up quite a bit in the chorus, so the biggest concern was to have visuals that kept the story moving along quickly. The clip was all about moments rather than scenes.

I was inspired by the photography of Gregory Crewdson, William Broadhurst, Robby Müller’s cinematography on Paris Texas and the paintings of Jeffrey Smart. These artists share a beautifully dystopian and alienating tone in their work.

Tell us about the production process?

We had a week of pre – locations were the biggest concern as there were so many of them!
We shot in Sydney, but I had to fly down to Wellington and back right in the middle of preproduction for a film development lab. This made things tight!

Gregoire Liere (our DOP) and I would drive around scouting Western Sydney every night during pre. I’d pick him up at dusk and we’d keep scouting until the early hours of the morning – we had to see the locations at night as we shot the entire clip at night. It was exhausting but we had a lot of laughs and even more energy drinks!

We were uncompromising with casting – only choosing people who would bring something unique to the roles. We went after some of the best actors in Australia – and we were lucky enough to cast Richard Green (Snowtown, Boxing Day). We were confirming people right up to the night before the shoot.

We had one night of principal photography with a proper crew (1st AD, AC's, gaffer, art dept, wardrobe etc.), where we shot with the main actors. 
For the subsequent three nights Gregoire and I drove around shooting B roll. We shot doco style – finding real people and getting them to sign releases on the spot. This part of the clip was shot with available light. We almost got beaten up by bikers we were filming near but we talked our way out of it. They thought we were a news crew!

The doco style footage is used at the beginning of the clip and blended with the footage of the actors. The intention of this was to make the audience feel as though these characters were real people.

Why did you choose a bedroom location for the singers scene?

The bedroom location is Mason from DMA's actual room. The band were initially hesitant to include a performance element to the clip because they didn't want to distract from the characters in the narrative part of the clip. We pushed for it to help with pacing and bring it back to the song. We knew that Tommy’s performance would feel separated from the narrative characters because he's the only person indoors. All of the other characters in the clip are out in the lonely streets – away from their homes.

What were the limitations you faced with in the production?

None! We got everything we wanted.

What was the project turnaround?

We had a week of preproduction and a week for post. Pretty tight, but feels standard from my experience.

Who were your key collaborators? 

Gregoire Liere was my main collaborator on this one. Luckily, he wasn’t busy when we were shooting so he dedicated huge amounts of time and energy. It was great that he was a Sydney local – he had some great locations up his sleeve.

Our editor Stew Arnott was awesome as well. I sat in for most of the edit (at The Editors, Sydney) and we jammed on different ways of telling the narrative. I love having an editor who’s removed from production – as they’re not bias to what happened during the shoot. If it was a massive shot that took 2 hours, they don’t give a shit. They see the shot for the content which is all that matters. You need to be brutal, which Stew was.

Have you worked with any of them before?

It was awesome to work with producer Kesha Robertson on this – we’d worked on a few bits and pieces before so it was good to have a mate around. She slayed the casting and went after the best talent in Sydney.

I’ve also worked with Roma D’Arrietta who nailed wardrobe design for a really tight budget. All the clothes were beautifully simple and unique.

What did you shoot on? What lenses did you use?

We shot on an Alexa XT which belonged to the production company (Curious Film). We also used their Zeiss super speeds. 

A lot of the clip was filmed with available lighting – the Alexa handled the low light conditions really well. We shot most of the clip at 800 ASA but had to go to 1600 ASA when we were struggling with low light. We shot raw to give us more room to move in the grade.

Do you feel that the client understands the production process? How involved were the band and label?

The band and label were really involved in the production process of this clip.

We had creative freedom, but everything that we did was checked off and approved so there were no surprises in the edit. We were all on the same page so it felt seamless. I was given a blank canvas to come up with the idea for the clip and they went with it – it’s rare to get that much creative freedom.

Johann from I Oh You was awesome to work with. He’s done heaps of clips and he really gets it – knowing when to give feedback and when to let us have autonomy. 

If you had a chance to approach it again, what would you do differently?

Not much – loved the experience and the end product.

Gregoire and I were talking about shooting it on 35mm film after we’d wrapped. It would have looked beautiful but it would have also made shooting with available light quite challenging.


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