The New Video Insurrection
|Thirteen and 1/2 Questions with Director Keith Schofield|
|Written by Video Militia|
|Monday, 30 June 2008 08:10|
"You might want to revise that number - several of these questions appear to be two-parters." - Keith Schofield
This is the first edition of an interview series called Thirteen and 1/2 Questions, beginning with a Q&A with Director Keith Schofield. Keith was just recently highlighted in Saatchi & Saatchi's Annual New Directors' Showcase at this year's Cannes Lions 2008. We speak about that, the "Toe Jam" video, and advice he has to other young directors. Our line of questioning started with 13 basic puzzlers, +/- 1. Keith pointed out we should maybe revise that number but we are sticking to our guns.
Read More for the Interview
Video Militia: Congrats on the recent recognition by Saatchi & Saatchi's Annual Young Directors Showcase, have you seen this recognition begin to change anything for you professionally?
Keith Schofield: Nothing dramatic as of now (it's only been a week); but it's nice to get my name out there. I'll have a better answer in 6 months.
VM: What does it mean to be "someone to watch?" Do you ever wish they would just stop watching and give you a damn job?
KS: I've been getting jobs! But more would be nice.
VM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years as a director? In 10?
KS: Hopefully still working. Like actors or musicians, directors aren't exactly guaranteed to have a long career.
VM: Do you have ambitions to direct feature films or more commercials?
VM: About the "Toe Jam" Video... You said on PromoNews.tv that you were basically casting on charisma and looks. It seems like you had a good group to pick from. What drew them in? Was it the prospect of being in a high profile video or did you take some other angle in casting?
KS: A lot of people were drawn to the name Fatboy Slim, which was great. Still, the turnout wasn't that great. Only about 20% of the people who said they would be there actually showed up.
VM: Maybe it was the money?
KS: $400? Maybe.
VM: Sometimes young directors make the mistake of not shooting the treatment or the boards. What is your process after writing the treatment that gets you to the realized form, keeping it true to the original idea?
KS: Well, you can read all my treatments on my website. My stuff is pretty gimmicky- it can be summed up pretty well on paper, and I like to think that's usually how it comes out in the end. The only thing that changes in a final video is adding additional scenes or concepts. Like the "stretchy goo" scenes in the Goose video or the upside face part in the Minus the Bear video.
VM: Do you spend a lot of time pre-visualizing and planning or do you work more in the moment while on set? In other words, take us from start to finish.
KS: Commercials are pretty specific in terms of storyboards and shotlists. Everything is gone over in a pre-pro meeting with the agency. In music videos, the label focuses more of their energy on styling/wardrobe of the artist, and usually trusts the director to do their thing.
I have my shotlists which are pretty specific for the shoot. But you never get everything you want, so it's a judgement call of when to stop filming and skip to the next scene. Shooting a plot driven video is a lot different than something like the BPA video, where no specific shot is absolutely essential.
VM: Originating from a huge meth state myself (MO), I got a big kick out of the Wintergreen video and I read that it helped relaunch your career! Does it take just one good video to get things going for a director?
KS: Well.... that's hard to say. The Meth video was instrumental in getting a lot of people in the UK to see my whole reel. (Specifically, Joceline Gabriel, the video commissioner at Parlophone.)
VM: What advice do you have to other young directors?
KS: I have very specific advice!! I send it to everyone who contacts me. Here it is:
Mistakes people often make on their first videos (myself included) is that they make something that is only enjoyed by fans of the band. Or they do something dark, serious or dramatic. Or they choose their friend's boring acoustic song, where a fun video seems out of place.
VM: Is it different for those already working in the industry (i.e. the typical PA, mailroom, vault job) versus those doing it independently?
KS: I think doing anything in the industry is good, because you just pick up stuff and can sometimes borrow equipment. I spent a lot of time in post production at a commercial production company; so I learned a lot about the industry. But I don't think it's absolutely essential.
VM: Do you think the Internet changes the game?
VM: Does the Internet offer some hope of a resurgence for music video?
KS: Music videos have always been about selling albums, which people don't buy anymore because they can download songs for free. So, music video budgets will never return to 1999 levels. But, more people will be watching music videos, and a lot of videos that would never get seen on MTV will have an audience.
VM: What about this viral thing?
KS: It's hot shit.
VM: Is the YouTube aesthetic a potential threat to cinematic craftsmanship?
KS: nah. Cinematic craftsmanship is overrated. I'd rather watch a funny, compelling video shot on DV then some boring 35mm technocrane performance video. Look at the OK GO Treadmills video.
VM: You have been doing video projects since high school and then attended NYU, so you must have decided it was possible to become a director. At what age did this seem possible or was it an indirect decision?
KS: My family bought a Video8 camera when I was in 8th grade, and I did video projects throughout high school. So I was always interested.
VM: And was it worth all the bones going to film school?
KS: It's hard to say. Going to NYU didn't directly get me a career as a director, but I did learn a decent amount. Being in New York was perhaps a bigger advantage, I was able to intern on lots of sets and landed my first job right out of college (working the vault at an editorial company).
VM: Ok last question: creamy or crunchy peanut butter?
KS: Crunchy! And I'd like to add that I HATE natural peanut butter.
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