Budgets are rapidly coming down for music videos, but some directors still manage to execute their visions on a budget. Tyler T. Williams is perhaps one of the best at this, always putting together interesting images with great music. With his latest video for "Curtains!?" by Timber Timbre, Tyler displays a growing confidence in storytelling and a welcome throwback to the film noir grunge of the 40s and 50s. Hit the jump to watch the new video and for our interview with the director.
Let's watch the video first:
Tyler T. Williams
NFS: How did the project come together?
Tyler: About two years ago when Timber Timbre released Creep on Creepin On, I wrote them and I sent them the Youth Lagoon "Montana" video that I did and a couple of months later I got a response from Taylor Kirk the lead singer. He wanted to work together, but they were not recording yet, so he said they would keep in touch. Jump forward to 2014, I pitched them this idea. I really wanted to shoot in this prison here and they gave me full creative reign, which was pretty great.
NFS: What were your inspirations?
Tyler: Obviously film from the 40s and 50s, the lighting design and the quality of Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, movies like Kiss Me Deadly -- obviously David Lynch is always an inspiration. A lot of times with my work I'll have inspirations, but it never comes out the way I originally intended it, it just kinda happens. The big inspiration I had was Blue Velvet, it's just a beautiful mix of surreal imagery.
NFS: How did you pull off the vintage noir look?
Tyler: I used the Canon C100, Rockinon Primes and on my lenses I used a Black Pro-Mist 1/2 filter which softens the image a little bit. Lighting was mixed, I had a friend who owns a grip van who had a bunch of old Mole Richardson 2k lights that we used from like CBS Studios in the late 50s early 60s. We used a Lowell kit and ARRI kit for some of the car shots. I had haze in a can for inside the house and inside the AAA sign shop, so I just sprayed a shit-ton into the air to give that diffused look. Especially since back in the day everyone smoked, so it would be full of smoke anyways.
Justinian was our art director, and he was such a huge asset to keeping it pure to the period. He's actually a sign painter at the store we shot at. The daytime car stuff was green screen, I didn't use the Atomos Ninja, so it was kind of a bitch, since the Ninja helps with the macro-blocking for green screen. Luckily since it was black & white it was easy to hide any mistakes.
NFS: What budget were you working with and where did the money go?
Tyler: The budget for this was $3,000, so I'm putting all the money into the video -- all the locations, the crew, the props. We got the prison for a really good price, the house, the car, all the wardrobe we bought authentic shoes that they've been making since the 1800s. The art director Justinian actually owned a lot of some of the authentic stuff. But most of the money is going to the locations and the talent. My thought is: the more money you put into it the better it's gonna be and eventually it's gonna payoff and eventually you're gonna get a video that will pay you.
NFS: What do you think of the current state of the music video in today's fast-moving media world? Is the audience for music videos dwindling or growing?
Tyler: I think there's potential to be a bigger audience, but you have to trust that the audience is gonna seek the videos out, because there isn't a syndicated source to be fed this stuff. There's Vevo, but that stuff is pretty hit or miss because it's mostly pop. Some videos will get tons of views, but not necessarily get me more work. As a freelancer it's such a gamble, I want to make money, but I also want to make the best video I can.
In my past videos I feel like I edit myself too much. I really tried to make it a narrative this time.
NFS: What are labels looking for in a music video director these days?
Tyler: They're looking for directors that can do something that looks like a million dollar budget, but will cost them $3,000-$5,000. For music videos they're looking for new and emerging talent, for someone who resembles the same aesthetic of the band. I haven't really gone into pop music. I try to stay pretty true to music that I like and music that I think my style will suit best. That's the dilemma I'm having lately -- I'm loving doing the music videos, but I'm not seeing much return financially, so eventually you kinda have to take those corporate jobs to make ends meet.
NFS: You've been releasing music videos on the internet for years now. Is it harder to get music videos out there now?
Tyler: I've been thinking about how the first Coma Cinema videos I made, the internet was so much different back then. People were much more generous reposting these things on music blogs, but they're almost dead now. And people have become more harsh critics now too.
NFS: Why do you think that is? Are people more guarded with their online persona these days?
Tyler: I don't know if it's a new generation coming in or because it became too saturated that people stopped doing it. People have become way more frugal about spreading things.
NFS: Well I think it's a great video so hopefully this will help get it out there.
Tyler: It's funny, it's almost like a religious thing, but I check No Film School every day basically for new content.
NFS: We'll have to quote you on that!
Tyler is one of my favorite music video directors, so you should all head over to his Vimeo and explore his work. What do you guys think about the video and approach? Share below.