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Confetti - Do It For Real

Final Cut Pros: Music Video Director Round Table Discussion

8 March 12 interview: Alison Emm

When the cream of Nottingham’s music scene need their work immortalised on video, they talk to Tom Walsh, Michael Holyk and Junglewire. But only when we’ve finished talking to them for this special round table interview...

The Panel

Tom Walsh

Founder of Polymath Pictures (with Amy Nicholson), Tom has worked with We Show Up On Radar’s (Anchors In Your Heart and I’ll be Your Ghost) and Ulysses Storm (Franska The Bear) as well as working with Petebox and making The Wraith, a short narrated by Bernard Hill.

Tom Walsh website

Michael Holyk

After landing a BBC trainee spot at the age of 17, Michael has collaborated with Polydor, Mercury, Sony, Disney and Universal. Credits include Liam Bailey (When Will They Learn), Kirk Spencer (Raah, Hota Hai), Jake Bugg (Someone Told Me) and Dog Is Dead for BBC Introducing.

Michael Holyk website


Individually known as Faolan Jones and Andre Nichols, Junglewire have worked with the likes of Sony, Universal, Disney, Ministry of Sound, BBC and ITV, as well as shooting videos for Karizma, Nina Smith, Hhymn, We Are Avengers, Skiman and Scorzayzee.


The Round Table

How did you all get into making music videos?
Faolan: Me and Andre were on the same course at Confetti and - for some reason - we didn’t really mix well with the other people on the course, so we accidentally became mates.

Andre: We did a Notts Unsigned project for Trent FM; they got Confetti students to film their sessions and we met some guys from the Community Recording Studios.

Faolan: We’d been discussing doing music videos, so we suggested if they ever wanted to give us a try at doing a video for them to give us a shout. And they did.

Andre: We were just trying to have fun with it, and find out what we could do.  When we got the video out, the whole CRS roster was like; “We saw what you did, we loved it - can we have a video?” Next thing we knew, we were in demand.

Faolan: I mean, for artists in Nottingham, the opportunities to get a video shot were relatively limited, so all of a sudden loads of people really wanted us.  A lot of our early stuff was with CRS - we’ve collaborated on quite a few projects with them.  

Tom: I started off in a small production company as a staff editor. I was also in a band and we needed a music video for promotion. A mate of mine who’d started a production company shot it, and I cut the video myself, and it went from there. I went freelance about three years ago, and I get paid for them - but it’s not my bread and butter work; it’s more about having fun and trying out new ideas.

Michael: I did a media A-Level at Bilborough College, which involved making a music video. I banged it up on YouTube to show a couple of mates. Within about two weeks, I had half a million hits. Honestly, it’s really rubbish, but it got into my head that that was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to go for. Instead of uni, I got two Mastercards, and maxed them both out with kit, and decided to do my own thing.

You all seem pretty much self-taught. Do you think you can actually sit someone down and teach them how to make a good video?
Andre: You can teach someone so much, but it’s about them wanting to do it

Michael: I felt that I picked up enough on my really good A-Level, but I’ve been back on camera courses, just to top my knowledge up.  There’s no specific path; it’s about what you prefer and what’s comfortable for you.

Tom: I’ve been toying with the idea of going on an MA course, but it’s ten grand a year for two years.  Should you spend that on a course or on a shedload of kit? It’s a tricky one.

Do you pick up any tricks or techniques from watching other music video, TV and film?
Faolan: The key thing is, for anyone who wants to get involved in film, that when you make your first film it will be crap. You need to be big enough to recognise that it’s crap and know that you can do better.  

Tom: And learn from it as well. Shane Meadows made ten shorts before he made a feature film.  You’ve just got to keep doing it; and your first one - actually, your first five - are going to be less than average, but that’s how you learn.

So what do you do to keep within budget? Do you call in favours?
Michael: I find it really awkward when people do things for me for free. And if they do, they get paid straight away on the next job.

Faolan: It comes down to the artist; if they’ve got a budget then great, I can help them spend it. But if there isn’t one, then you’ve got to be the one to sort out the favours.  It’s your reputation on the line - if they bring their own people and mess up the venue then that’s got to be on their heads and not yours. I love it when you say; “Can you fill the club?”  “Yeah, I can fill the club!”  You get there and there’s like, five people.

Andre: If the artist has come up with a big, fancy idea with loads of extras and cars and they’re asking you to do it for free, then it’s down to them to get it.  At the end of the day, I don’t own fancy cars, I don’t own a club and I don’t know fifty people who’ll come and hang out for the day.

How much input do the artists have? Do you encourage their input?
Andre: Depends. You get a lot of creative people who’ve done the track and know what they want from the video. But then you also get a lot of people saying; “What do you think you can do with this?” and then leave it up to us to sort everything out.

Tom: But you can also go up to a band and say; “I like that track, I want to make a video, but I want to do it my way – what do you reckon?” There are enough bands in and around Nottingham that you can do that and start up that way.

Michael: Than again, I’ve just shot Jake Bugg’s promo for Mercury and there’s no artist communication.  You simply get something in your inbox and you pitch for it.  I do a ten-page document. If they like it, good. If they don’t, they’ll just say no.  The higher up you get, the more detached you are from the artist.

So he’s being pitched for, already?
Michael: Yeah. There’s a Notts connection and I was fortunate enough to know his management. That’s another thing: you can do the best pitch in the world but if you’re friendly with the artist’s management or you’ve got a good name then they’ll work with you. It’s really bad and it shouldn’t be like that, but it is.  Persistence is the key; you keep banging them out and going for it and sooner or later they’ll go with one of your ideas.

Faolan: What’s nice about working with unsigned artists is that you have that kind of personal thing where you and the artist are collaborating - you’re not just being paid to give them exactly what they want. Labels can be a lot less willing to take a risk with stuff, whereas unsigned artists probably will.

What do you prefer: making a video with narrative, or band-in-studio?
Faolan: In an ideal world, one with a story - but it’s really, really hard to do.  You have to have the right song, and you don’t want to make a rubbish video because you’re constrained by time. Narrative is great, but I get a big buzz out of something that captures the energy of the tune.

Tom: Maybe it’s because I grew up with cinema, but whenever I listen to music there’s always a story.  I’d rather make a little short film that the song is a soundtrack to. Performance videos, unless they’re done really well, can be a bit tedious.

Michael: You’ve got to pick your moments. I did a music video for Liam Bailey which went down really well, and it was totally ad hoc.  I was just me and my camera, and I rocked up to his place and it just happened. We’d chucked about a few ideas before but this was quite organic.

Tom: Narrative has gone out of the window a little bit nowadays. If it’s for YouTube it usually gets played from start to end. But for MTV, or whatever, it comes in halfway through and gets turned off after a couple of minutes. They don’t play the full-length versions of videos, they just dip in and out nowadays.

How long would you say it takes to make an average music video?
Michael: To film, it’s most cost effective to shoot it in a day. I like to do it over a day or two at a push, mainly because I get bored easily. I’ll probably go from a shoot to the edit and have no sleep whatsoever, just blitz it out like a machine.  You need to still have the buzz for it; if you string it out you can lose something.

Andre: Unless you have deadlines, you can spend as long as you want and change any slight thing that you don’t like.  The Won’t Be Quiet video – do we dare tell them how long that took?

Faolan: I don’t want to talk about it!

You’re part of the generation that grew up with technology and the internet. What do you feel about YouTube and Vimeo?
Michael: I think it’s great, but really bad at the same time.  I’ve done a video for a Nottingham band – and I’m not being big headed here – but it looks sick.  The fact it’s sat on YouTube with only a couple of thousand views is really hard.  I’ve shown it to commissioners and they’ve said; “If that was for Coldplay or whoever this would be a really good video.” Things can get lost on the internet. Rewind to before I was born, though; to make a music video you had to have film and a camera and training and money to get it all processed and edited - and then you had to get it onto telly. Now, you can just pop into Jessops or wherever, buy a digital camera and a USB microphone, and you can be a music video director and put it up online. It’s great but…

Tom: It’s so diluted.

Faolan: Labels now will judge how well an artist is doing based on YouTube.

What’s Nottingham like, locationwise?
Michael: I think when you’re shooting here, you have to think outside the box a bit. The Avengers video that Junglewire did -  it looks like it was shot in Mexico…

Andre: We did the Trouble video in a Twenties style, and I was wondering where on earth we were going to shoot it, but there was some lovely little places around The Lace Market which looked amazing…

Tom: The more I shoot here, the more Nottingham grows on me.  The amount of people watching the video who know the location is minimal.

Are there any divas on the Nottingham scene?
Andre: They’re all divas.

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