On Sunday April 12, we released the long awaited music video "Anahata", a collaboration between myself, U.K band Stems and Melbourne based film makers Matt Smolen, Ted Adair and Shaun Herbertson. A long time in the making, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved and now reflect on the process.
It all began with Twitter.
January 2014: I was contacted by John Dorr of U.K band "Stems" via social networking site Twitter. It is hard to believe looking back that this is how it started. It seems so simple, but reminds me of the value of these kinds of online platforms. We as a group of artists may never have crossed paths, and what a shame that would have been.
Studying at the London School of Puppetry at the time, I had just completed my marionette carving course, producing my lovely "Astrid". I had become very fond of performing with marionettes over my time at LSP and was incredibly excited to now have the opportunity to work with my own. My main performance assessment would be a short solo show which I would develop under the guidance of my tutors. All I knew at this point in time was that I wanted to explore Astrid's movement as much as possible, but more specifically... I wanted her to swim.
See previous post Marionette Carving at LSP for more on this.
After our initial contact, John and I emailed back and forth discussing potential collaborations and John brought up the idea of a music video. After hearing some of the bands music, I was blown away. Instrumental, very theatrical, with a lot of heart... it was clear to me that puppetry would compliment their style fantastically well. Having just completed Astrid, and beginning to develop my solo show, I offered the band a compromise. I would create a live show to their track "Anahata" as my assessment for school, and then later turn it in to a music video. They were more than happy to approach it in this way.
March 2014: Developing the live show was a wonderful process. I was very privileged to have four LSP tutors at my disposal, and each played an important role in the success of the piece. Working with me on movement and spacial awareness was LSP head Caroline Astell-Burt. Not to mention it was she who trained me to operate marionettes, and she who taught me to carve... Ok, Caroline has a lot to answer for! My outside eye's on the choreography and narrative were LSP graduate's turned tutor's Chris Wylie and Kate James-Moore. And, working with me on nuance and finesse, the legendary Ronnie Le Drew. Under the guidance of these four incredibly talented teachers, I had created a show that I was incredibly proud of, growing as a puppeteer and theatre maker along the way.
See previous post Astrid's Journey for more on this.
July 2014: At LSP, for a show to be assessed, you must have an audience. Astrid and I, therefore had to wait till the schools showcase event in July. I continued to rehearse the show every morning before my classes, aiming to commit the entire piece to muscle memory. As it turned out, the band were based only a short distance from the school and so agreed to come and accompany my performance live for the event. An incredibly special occasion; with John on guitar, Tom Owen on violin and Christine Avis on the cello, the powerful emotion live music can elicit is amazing. I felt so connected with the band, the music and Astrid, to this day it is my greatest performance. I passed my assessment with flying colors.
See previous post Living Room Theatre for more on this.
November 2014: I had made the decision to tackle the music video back in Australia, as I have a lot more connections in the film industry here at home. So after a bit of a hiatus, a long flight home, some planning and rehearsals, the shoot day finally arrived. I had managed to secure an incredible team of professionals. Director Matthew Smolen, Creative Director Ted Adair and DOP Shaun Herbertson. It was made clear early on that this was to be an equal collaboration; all four of us would have our opinions heard and our ideas respected. It was a fantastic environment to work in. There were a lot of challenges throughout the shoot, but we worked together as a team to overcome them. One very long eleven hour day spent in a dark studio at Deakin University (our old stomping grounds), and we had the footage we needed. We retired absolutely exhausted, but satisfied.
See previous post Astrid's Film Shoot: Music Video for Stems for more on this.
And from here we entered post production, Matt tackling the editing, and Ted working on the title animation and visual effects. Both working professionals in high demand, unfortunately paid work always needs to take priority over this, a labor of love. And so it would take some time. My role completed, I had no control whatsoever over this phase of the project and I grew more and more impatient to see the final result.
I can not comment too much on the film aspects of this project, as that is really not my area. However, I will say this: The talent of these three men is astounding and I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with them on this project. It looks absolutely stunning.
April 2015: The music video is released. Over a year in the making, and what we have is something incredibly special. I am very happy with the final result and so proud of everyone involved for their hard work and commitment. Now we are looking to share our work with the world. We have entered "Anahata" in to this years Berlin Music Video Awards and will be following on with various other events and festivals.
Stems describe their music as "Art Rock embellished with strings". For me, this phrase has now come to describe our collaboration. I would often joke with the band about "strings complimenting strings", Astrid's and those of their instruments. It really has been a fantastic journey and I am so grateful that the cosmos (or twitter) brought us together so many moons ago
I hope you all enjoy "Anahata".
Huge thanks to all my collaborators. Stems: John Dorr, Tom Owen and Christine Avis for a beautiful song, a wonderful opportunity and your unwavering support. The London School of Puppetry's Caroline Astell Burt, Ronnie Le Drew, Kate James-Moore and Chris Wylie for your guidance, your knowledge, your encouragement and your patience. My amazing production team, Matt Smolen, Ted Adair and Shaun Herbertson for your time, your skill, your commitment and your enthusiasm. I could not have done this without you guys. And finally to my little wooden friend; Astrid, thank you for inspiring me... to learn and to create.
See Gallery for more photos.
Why not follow us all on twitter? Seems only fitting.