Monthly Archives: November 2014

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGratj

I’ve now directed around a dozen music videos. Beautiful people have made futuristic love on my dining room table, I’ve tailed a dapper puppet as it wandered the streets of New York, slapped a woman in the face with a fish, and tarred and feathered a young man in a forest. And I’ve done it ALL FOR ART.

Among all these whimsical creations, I’ve neglected to make a straight-ahead, sweaty, ‘band playing in a room’ rock clip. Consider this my entry into that illustrious canon.

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

We filmed in our regular rehearsal room at Redsun Studios (say that five times fast), but I knew we’d need to tart it up a bit. Fans of the band will recognise the portraits as stills from our live projections. I rasterbated and printed all the ‘big heads’ the day before – well, except Kev’s, whose portrait debuted in our last video. Lou and I then had to piece them all together on the day – each consisted of around 15 A4 pages that needed to be arranged and stuck together face-down. Kev’s portrait was before we’d ironed out our technique, and we got the ordering wrong. I kinda like that his is the Picasso of the lot, especially since it was the only one to be recycled.

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

I’m a sucker for dramatic, colourful lighting, from Wong Kar Wai’s films through to Blackstreet’s No Diggity. We jerry-rigged the lights by taping red cellophane over the room’s fluorescents, then threw a blue gel over the camera mounted LED ring. I love the combination of the two colours, further heightened by the smoke we liberally pumped into the room (courtesy of friend-of-the-band Joel Barcham’s fog machine – thanks Joel!).

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

A technique I got to try on this shoot was to mime to the song playing at half-speed and then speed back up the footage in post. At half-speed, the song sounds like jokey doom-rock (least it was funny to us on the day). The sped-back-up footage has a manic energy to it, and also allowed Lou (camerawoman and bedrock of this operation) to cover a lot more distance in her tracking shots (essentially, she could circle the band twice as many times). The clip that gave me the idea is Vampire Weekend’s excellent A-Punk (I imagine half-speed Vampire Weekend just sounds like Animal Collective).

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

The final stylistic affectation is the animation. I’ve gushed before about my love for Ruff Mercy– I’m hoping he’ll interpret my crude imitation of his style as flattery. The clip consists of around 1800 frames – I reckon I drew over at least two-thirds of those. The animation amplifies the already unhinged vibe of the piece.

Faux Faux Amis - Luke McGrat

I’ve been watching a hell of a lot of movies lately, from makings-of (Full Tilt Boogie, Snowballed, and Hearts Of Darkness), to cult classics (El Topo, The Third Man, if…, Red Desert, Rififi, One False Move), and recent(ish) releases (Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Double, Frank, Starred Up, When Animals Dream, Stretch).

But mostly, I’ve been watching “music films” (be they documentaries, performances, films with cool soundtracks, or hybrids of all three). It began a couple of months ago with Gimme Shelter. Since then, using this excellent MOJO list as a guide, I’ve watched:


A Hard Day’s Night

The T.A.M.I. Show

The Wicker Man

Cracked Actor

The Blues According To Lightnin’ Hopkins

Heavy Metal Parking Lot

In Bed With Madonna


Rock’n’Roll High School


I’ve been approaching these with a researcher’s zeal, but research for what? I don’t know yet.

There’s something intriguing about those films where the band play themselves, or versions of themselves. A ‘rock star’ is already an assumed persona – inserting that into some other narrative is like placing a story within a story (where reality and fiction blurs is something I keep coming back to). Those films, like Head and A Hard Day’s Night, have a meta-textual element that’s incredibly appealing (next on my list is this Dave Clark Five one directed by none other than John Boorman!).