tUnE-yArDs’ lead Merrill Garbus is 100% a real thing. So much so she needs no exclamation mark to prove that statement with her classic high energy and animated face. This coupled with three dancers leads to more fun than a stuffy factory can handle. Like a sugar filled school girl in a china shop rules are bound to be broken.
Behind the lens is a Mr Tom Jobbins who’s animation is less of the face (we assume) and more of the stop motion kind. UK MVA winner and Vimeo Staff Pick favourite,Tom is trusted by both the music and advertising worlds knowing just how to bring the inanimate to life. We loved this pop-coloured promo so went and had a chat with Tom who weighs in on the commercials vs music video debate, where his ideas come from and just what it’s like working with Merrill Garbus.
Word Is Cheap: What does it more for you, commercials or music videos?
Tom Jobbins: Good question. They both do it for me and for completely different reasons. Generally music videos allow you to be a writer and director and create the world you choose. It’s much harder but can be very rewarding. The only downside to music videos is that there isn’t always the time or budget to finesse shots as much as you would like too. This is why I like commercials as you can make something with a lot more precision. Working on someone else’s scripts is really enjoyable too. Being there to problem solve and really push the creative boundaries of it is very rewarding.
Where does an idea like this come from??
With an idea for a music video it can jump straight out at me but more often or not it is something I have to work at. With the quick turn around for a treatment I take in the track and think of any images or techniques I would like to make. If these fit with the song then I run with the idea, if not I keep thinking. You could make anything in a music video, so constraining it to something you actually want to do gives you a narrower starting point. With the Tune-Yards video it was the hands, I wanted to shoot these in stop-motion. From that the idea came with the mannequins, from that the lyrics seemed to write the film itself.
You again incorporate some stop motion animation, is that your weapon of choice?
I love stop-motion. It creates a magic out of the real world with loads of charm to it. Its takes a long time so its not suited to every project but I like to get it in when I can.
Could the factory workers see? Were there any major problems on set?
Ha, the factory workers couldn’t see. It was a weigh up between them having sight, or making them look halfway believable. I was super lucky that the dancers and choreographer were so great, they did all their dancing and acting in the dark, it caused problems initially but I think it ended up adding to the film. When they dance with Merrill at the end it looks so wild because the factory workers are all throwing themselves blindly into the performance.
Was ‘Real Thing’ as fun to make as it looks? Is Merrill Garbus as effervescent on set as you would imagine?
It really was fun, having the big set and the odd factory workers felt like it transported people to a bizarre but joyful world. Working with Merrill lifted everyone spirits too, she was full of energy and did everything with a smile. Along with the dancers they would do whatever was needed to get the shots done, no problems. I do a lot of stop-motion shoots so there was more energy on this set than I have ever experienced..
Tell us a secret about this video.
A secret would be that they the factory workers couldn’t see, but you guessed that one. I did have two desserts which I didn’t tell anyone about.