Recognise Markus Feehily? Well you should as the multi-platinum ex-Westlifer has gone solo and surprisingly brought a Plan B vibe. With it come edgy visuals which are a far cry from his ‘walking down the beach with the boys’ days. A lot must be said for Markus’ bravery in forging forward both aurally and visually, something we’re sure he’s been thinking about for a long time.
Bringing the track to life photographer / director Naroop has created what we’re certain is an autobiographical piece, something which he denies (smoke / fire), but which regardless powerfully matches Markus’ passion. Mixing performance and colour in an emotional encounter we were left both surprised and moved. So we caught up with Naroop to get to the bottom of the narrative, find out what colour means to him and what the differences in being a photographer and director are.
Word Is Cheap: What were your initial thoughts when you heard ex-Westlifer Markus Feehily’s new track?
Naroop: I immediately bonded with the track. I love music that has a meaning. Lyrics are just as, if not more important than the beat and melody.
Markus delivers the track with real emotion. I could sense that he was passionate about the song. It was important to him. It wasn’t just another song. It was a totally new side of him.
The track was sent to me at the perfect time, as I was keen to explore more narrative work. As I listened to the song, I felt this could be a perfect match for the type of video I wanted to make.
Being also a photographer by trade, did this influence your narrative?
Hahaha, no not at all.
The concept of the video is based around a guy that craves this woman like a drug addict yearns for his next hit. He needs her, but can’t get her. The photography element is a reflection of his delirious state. He thinks he sees her on the street and takes photos of her, but when the photos are developed, he sees she was never there. His withdrawals were causing him to hallucinate.
When I met Markus, he showed me a portrait of James Franco that was lit pure red. He loved the power of the image and the emotions the colour red evokes. When I saw this I knew it would work perfect with my idea of the lead man taking photographs and developing them in a dark room.
How does your process differ preparing for a photography and music video shoot?
Well if I compare a music photo shoot with a music video shoot, they are very different.
There is much less pre-production in a music photo shoot. Yes you recce, have a meeting, but ultimately a majority of the work is done on the day.
With a music video, as time is usually tight, preparation is key. Your shot list needs to be bang on. You have to make sure you know exactly what you want to shoot so on the day you get everything you need. Photography is about getting that one killer shot. With film you don’t make a great video with one great scene or shot, you need the whole piece to work together. This takes time to visualise and is created before the shoot by planning your shot list thoroughly.
Music videos are also much more of a collaborative affair. With a music photo shoot, I can light, shoot and retouch everything myself with the help of an assistant. But with film, you need to have the right team. The right DOP, crew, editor, colourist etc. They are all artists and you need to make sure they are the right people to help manifest your idea.
Colour plays an important role in visualising the emotion of the narrative, what were your influences colour wise?
I’m a big fan of Nicolas Winding Refn’s work and how he uses colour to set the mood and add drama. I felt bold colours would be a great way to reflect the emotions of the lead man, creating a sense of separation and showing his emotional journey, from joy, loneliness to anger.
Also as the song is powerful, it needed a strong look to convey the sentiment of the song. Yes it’s a song about love, but it packs a punch.
What is it about low light that attracts you to work within it?
It’s a stylistic choice really. I love the look of it. I’m continually drawn to visuals that have a certain filmic quality. Imagery that isn’t polished or over lit, but has a softness to it.
I like the control you have with low light too. You can shape, sculpt and mould stuff exactly the way you want.
I guess being a photographer as well as a director, the look of a video always stands out to me. Yes the concept has to be good, but for me lighting, framing and angles play a big part in the way I work. I’m very hands on with the DOPs I work with in that respect.
What are the biggest differences in creating a photograph and a music video? Which do you prefer?
I see each music video as a journey. From receiving a brief, conceptualising an idea, shot listing, shooting, editing, grading and then finally sharing your work with everyone. It feels very rewarding when something that only you saw in your head can eventually be seen by millions around the world.
For me, photography falls into two categories. Capturing and creating. Wedding photography for example, you’re capturing a moment, capturing what is unfolding in front of you. I’m not really excited by photography like this. I need to create a photograph. Conceive an idea. Find the location. Light it etc. Create all the elements that appear on the photograph.
Photography feels more solitary in a lot of ways too, whereas I love the collaboration in film. But film is also more rigid, you need discipline and it’s not as flexible as photography. You have a set amount of time, a big crew and you need to know what you’re shooting.
It’s hard to choose between the two. For me they go hand in hand. I can apply what I’ve learned in photography to film and vice versa. Ultimately, my goal is produce the best work I can, and having knowledge in both fields is hugely beneficial.