Creative opportunities often present themselves as hidden obstacles, abundant in learning curves and experiences that embrace a new, fervent directions. For Melbourne-based freelance director and cinematographer Jack Peddey, diving into producing music videos was a simple. ‘I’ll give it a go‘ – decision that has ultimately paid-off.
Juggling film projects since 2012 with an impressive CV, Peddey has assisted and constructed a variety of commercial, short and corporate films, travelling overseas to broaden his horizons and develop his onscreen aesthetic. Drawn to intimacy and the elements of different art forms, Peddey’s work is catered to his audience with a sophisticated and well-considered perspective, drawing viewers closer to the depths and individuals captured.
More recently, Peddey’s work has been showcased and acknowledged by a variety of publishing platforms like Rolling Stone Australia and Triple J, with Client Liason’s video ‘Feed The Rhythm‘ winning the People’s Choice Awards at the Mount Buller Short Film Festival and the Warehouse Cinema Music Video Showcase 2014. On top of this, his recent clip for Client Liason’s ‘Free of Fear‘ was nominated in the 2014 J Awards for Australian Music Video of the Year alongside Sia’s viral ‘Chandelier‘ and Chet Faker’s popular ‘Talk Is Cheap‘.
We had a chat with the emerging director about his motivations as a filmmaker, creative influences and original ideas.
Q. How did you get involved with directing music videos?
I think it was a progression from crewing on many different kinds of film projects across various departments and being open to new roles and experiences. Initially my focus was to develop as a cinematographer which I still thoroughly enjoy doing. An opportunity to direct a music video came up early this year and I decided to give it a go.
Q. Your work has a refined aesthetic, regardless of the genre or style of the production. Do you invest a lot in planning your work or compromise your original ideals?
Thank you. In my experience, planning is super important. The way I work now is to try and contain the whole film into something small and make decisions with that place in mind. Once that place or idea or word has been articulated, it’s possible to make appropriate decisions about locations, costumes, characters, tone, mood, climate etc. which all give life to the ideas. If I find myself having to compromise on something during the filmmaking process, it’s usually because of a miscalculation in the planning – that has happened to me on a couple of occasions, and I’ve tried to learn from them and grow as a filmmaker.
As a side note on working across different genres and styles, Arthur Russell is an example of someone with the depth of range that I find particularly inspiring. Many people stick to one or two genres or styles within their art form – it’s incredible to think that Arthur’s body of work across all of those genres all came from a single person. He is an inspiration to me because he doesn’t limit himself to a particular genre – he embraces and expresses a fuller extent of his own personality more than most people are willing to do. He is a bit of a hero of mine and I aspire to approaching film in a similar way to how he approached music.
Q. There’s a lot of grandeur in your work with Client Liaison, especially within the recent clip for ‘Feed The Rhythm’. How did the idea come about for the video and what were the biggest challenges in achieving it?
Client Liaison had wanted to make a clip up at Mount Buller for quite some time. It came up in conversation and I immediately lied to them, telling them that I knew how to ski. Luckily I have a good friend who works and lives up at the mountain during the snow season, so I went up a few weeks before the shoot and took a few ski tips from him and managed to get to a novice level of skiing before the shoot began. That was probably the biggest challenge personally as I have poor balance and dislike the cold.
I felt that grandeur and the Client Liaison narrative are a good fit. Their music is classical in a way too, so perhaps classical grandeur just fits nicely with that. For ‘Feed the Rhythm’, we had beautiful locations up at Mount Buller during one of the best ski seasons in years. The other ace up our sleeve was that Harvey [Miller] and Monte [Morgan] are very skilled Alpine sportsmen. We were simply working to our strengths with the locations and prowess of the skiing. The camerawork lent a lot to that too – it is always controlled and collected, using wide angle lenses, with a more classical approach compared to the hand held, shallow focus music videos which have been popular for a while now – perhaps it was a reaction to that too.
Q. When it comes to your own style, there’s a certain bond within your photography that’s sensitive. Is photography a creative outlet for you or something more?
Thanks, photography is very personal for me. Certain things catch my eye for whatever reason, and I try to celebrate or give dignity to whatever that is, or perhaps there is something humorous or interesting about it – often I don’t know why I find something interesting. I think photography or any other kind of ‘creative’ pursuit is just a kind of meditation – kind of like going for a walk or a swim or playing with your pet – its not a competition, just something you can enjoy, be yourself with and be in the moment with.
“The camera is a conduit between a subject and the audience – if there is no empathy there; no engagement from the camera, then that’s when things start to lose their intimacy and the audience stops caring.”
Q. There’s a feeling of depth and closeness that creates mood in your work. Is there a certain relationship or appreciation you have for film elements?
When I started to develop an interest in filmmaking a few years ago, I had interests in some of the elements that make up film like photography, music and literary art – and without those interests it’d be a lot harder to make films. That being said, I think that if there is any closeness in a film or photograph it’s usually because of its empathy. The camera is a conduit between a subject and the audience – if there is no empathy there; no engagement from the camera, then that’s when things start to lose their intimacy and the audience stops caring.
Q. Contrasting your newer work, your clip for Baro’s track ‘i had a dream about u last night’ works with VHS and analog qualities. How do you look at different styles and adapt them as your own?
In the beginning, I didn’t really take style into consideration. For me, the ideas, the resources available and the people who work on the film all come together to create the style of the piece which evolves throughout the process. Working with VHS with Baro was a choice that was made after knowing what we wanted to achieve – it was simply that VHS leant itself better to those ideas than digital or other formats.
Q. Do you have a favorite music video or track right now?
I really loved Daniel Askill and Sia’s new clip for ‘Chandelier’. I also really love Connan Mockasin’s clip for ’I’m the Man, That Will Find You’ directed by Daniel Brereton. Emily Kai Bock’s music videos are all great too.
Q. You’ve been offered enough cash and connections to create your own dream shoot; you can use whatever equipment, go anywhere and collaborate with anyone. What do you do?
I think I’d make a road movie, go on an adventure somewhere – probably to Asia. I’d hire Emmanuel Lubezki as my cinematographer.
Q. As a cinematographer, what’s one music video, film or record that changed your perspective or creative direction in your work?
Tarkovsky’s and Wong Kar Wai’s films were big influences when I started watching films seriously (which was about three years ago) – especially ‘In The Mood for Love’. Everything about that film is incredible – the camera work captures both the isolation and intimacy of the characters so beautifully. Overall though, I find that the lives and personalities of the filmmakers and artists are often more revealing and interesting than the work itself. A few years ago I took an interest in biographies of artists – Akira Kurosawa, Goethe, Helmut Newton, Michael Collins, Christopher Doyle, Arthur Russell and a few others – the way these people lived their lives, their backgrounds, how they saw the world, their principles and how they overcame their struggles and approached their work had big influences on me. At the end of the day, art is made by an individual – I often find the lives of those individuals more interesting and revealing than the work that they produced. By becoming familiar with these people, it puts both their art and your own individuality into a new perspective which provides for greater understanding and awareness.
“At the end of the day, art is made by an individual – I often find the lives of those individuals more interesting and revealing than the work that they produced.”
Q. Any advice for those wanting to get into directing, cinematography or just working the local music scene in general?
I guess just get out there and do it – find other filmmakers and make films with them. Melbourne especially has a large short film and music video community who are always looking for crew. Learn by making mistakes, have courage and work hard – ask yourself where you want to be in a few months or years from now and figure out how to get there.
To see more of Jack’s work, visit www.jackpeddey.com.