Anthony Dickenson Talks Will Young



Having dabbled in both the commercial and music side of the video world, Anthony Dickenson proves that having a worthy cause behind a music video can create a truly breathtaking piece of art. With Will Young's backing behind WWF, nature and wildlife is the focal point here, from polar bears to monkeys - nothing is missed. The video itself preserves the notion that all life is sacred.
Ever thought you'd see a big cinema screen in the middle of a desert or a jungle? No - me neither; but there are cinema screens in abundance here. Lighting also plays a huge part in the music video; almost seeming to play on a theme of the human world colliding with that of the animals - we're intruders and we've got to rectify our impact on the world around us.
We caught up with Anthony to talk about his thought processes behind the video...
Word Is Cheap: How did the project come about?
Anthony Dickenson: I was approached by WWF and Globe Productions. They had the idea to create a three minute film to accompany a reworking of the Burt Bacharach classic, ‘What the world needs now’. Will Young was on board and they wanted to see him perform in front of a series of large projections of the natural world, interspersed with the staggering statistics highlighting environmental damage and wildlife decline.The process was really collaborative with WWF. We met up several times and talked ideas, and decided that the film needed something else, another element for it to really stand out and capture peoples attention. My producer, Mark Harbour, and I pushed to bring the idea in to the context of what WWF is trying to save, the natural habitats. Basically, taking the cinema screen out into nature.
So then it was a matter of working out what our limitations were and who we could work with to make this possible.
I learnt how important it is to not lose hope. It’s not too late to make a difference. And what’s the downside of showing a little more love and respect to the wildlife and environment around us.
WIC: Did you shoot the nature footage yourself?- Did you parallax stills to create a moving effect in places?
AD: Unfortunately that wasn’t possible, the time/skill/patience/luck it takes to shoot good wildlife footage is something unfathomable really. We had to use stock imagery but we wanted to create some consistency. During one of our meetings with WWF they showed us some of Joe Fellows’ amazing work from one of their previous projects. Joe uses a technique called Parallaxing that, in essence, creates a moving image from a still photograph by splitting it into layers of perspective. This was the answer, and it meant we could focus our attention on finding really strong still images rather than trawling through hours of footage with so many variables: resolution, camera movement, frame rate etc. I don’t think we would have ever found the type of imagery we wanted.

WIC: What's the inspiration behind Will performing to the big screen?
AD: The screen acts as a window to the natural world. Will is looking at what we are at risk of losing, and his emotive performance is a reaction to that.
It was also really important to me that the projection always took centre stage, its the only source of light throughout the film so your eye is always drawn to it. My cinematographer, Ben Fordeman and I also knew it would be an awesome beauty light. In essence its just a massive 30ft wide controllable soft box.

WIC: Was the big screen filmed physically on location or was it put in with visual FX?
AD: It had to be authentic. Everything you see in the film is real, we literally placed a cinema screen in to each of the locations. It would have been very hard to recreate the spill of light on the landscapes in post. Also, a lot of the imperfections and happy accidents could only have been discovered in the real world process; I love the bugs in the projection beam!  It’s elements like this that give it extra warmth and character.
Although, the downside of doing it all for real was that we were at the mercy of mother nature. But she was definitely on our side for this one!
We shot the environments in South Africa as it offered an ideal range of landscapes. Putting up a big sail/screen in a place that is known for its heavy winds was pretty nerve racking. We were extremely lucky; on the savanna we had completely clear weather, not a cloud in the sky; in the jungle it was perfectly overcast and then at the beach we had no wind and in the background the most dramatic stormy clouds rolling in off the coast… It turns out that that was a hurricane coming in, which hit about an hour after we wrapped!

WIC: Is this video very different to any you have worked on before?
AD: The scale of it is much bigger than a lot of the music video work I’ve done before, but i think at its core its got a similar aesthetic; that sort of experimental techniquee look that I was known for in the early days of my career. I’ve experimented a lot with projections before too. This meant I went into the making of this with my eyes open regarding the problems we were inevitably going to have with shooting the projections. The brightest projector you can possibly afford. Thats what it always comes down to!
WIC: What did you learn from this project?
AD: I learnt how important it is to not lose hope. It’s not too late to make a difference. And what’s the downside of showing a little more love and respect to the wildlife and environment around us. After all, it has supported us for millions of years, isn’t it time we returned the favour..
Look out for the BTS film which is coming soon.
Sign up to WWF here

Natasha West

I love pizza, dogs, music and film scores. Music student and writer. -
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