For some successful feature film directors, the music video has provided a useful training ground. For creating a mood, a visual signature or crafting a short, soundtracked story, there is no better medium. The director doesn’t need to worry about getting a script together, auditioning (let’s just use the band, that’s what the fans want to look at) or even making much sense. Yet, if the director does a good job, the video will play back in listeners’ minds every time they catch a bit of the song – just think of Blur’s Coffee & TV (1999), with that adorable little milk carton on a mission to find the missing Graham Coxon. You see?
Working with an act that’s about to become big – or is already there – can also introduce an existing fan base to the director’s work. Cast your mind back to 1999 and Fatboy Slim’s single, Praise You, the one with the amateur dance troupe giving an impromptu show in an anonymous shopping mall. The song hit number one in the UK charts, and the video, directed by (and featuring) then-rising star Spike Jonze, deserved its three MTV Video Music Awards, and made its director hugely famous.
The added advantage of making a music video is that it can really help the director to get noticed by powerful people, for instance, when Drew Barrymore scouted out McG to direct Charlie’s Angels (2000). Similarly, Björk’s admiration of Michel Gondry’s videos for his formed-in-school band, Oui Oui, led him on the path to the successful career he now enjoys.
Here’s a look at five directors have made the leap from music videos to feature films:
Costume designer Vanessa Mulholland has had some interesting jobs – being a croupier, working in a mental hospital, making stained glass – but it was her love of making clothes, instilled by her mother, that led her towards a film career.
Currently on a BBC traineeship, North London-born Vanessa studied Fashion and Textiles at the London College of Fashion, graduating in 2006. During the course, she assisted on a short film, and “was hell-bent, almost obsessed, on doing that ever since.”
Set in a mountainous Turkish village, Times and Winds (Bes Vakit) looks at a Muslim community defined by the five daily calls to prayer. The stories of three children give the viewer a way in: Omer (Ozkan Ozen), whose father is the subject of his murderous impulses; Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali), whose crush on his schoolteacher is shared by his father; and Yildiz (Elit Iscan), who often has to act as a mother to her small brother.