There’s a timeless beauty in the relationship directors have with both themselves and their work.
Self-entitled as a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’, Annelise Hickey is a creative pushing her own boundaries and testing her abilities one project at a time. With pastel-tinted vision and a soft confidence the transcends her visuals, Annelise’s imagery is a reflective and opulent example of the energy that precise editing and curated sound can administer. Stimulated by her cinema production background, the director and freelancer dabbles in both editing and film, capturing the aesthetics of mood and translating it into a bright, brooding glitch.

Infusing her own inspirations and channeling them with her own distinct style, Annelise has collaborated with fellow Melbourne locals The Harpoons and Ruby Fielder, materialising both her talents for creating music videos and provoking curiosity in movement, tone and texture. With her recent director role in Ella Thompson’sI Go Over‘ giving her the freedom to formulate her own gentle pastel paradise, the creative process of Annelise is not only a compelling exploration of life as a freelance director, but also as a director trying to find their own solid ground amongst the chaos.

“Whenever I listen to music I love, I find it hard not to imagine the images that would accompany it.”

How did you get involved with directing music videos?

Getting involved in making music video clips is always something I wanted to do. Creating a vision for an awesome tune is pretty dreamy to me. Whenever I listen to music I love, I find it hard not to imagine the images that would accompany it. But I suppose you could say I got involved when a friend and I decided to put together a mini treatment together for The Harpoons and presented it to them at their next band rehearsal.

What’s your favourite music video or track right now?

As a Melbournian, it’s pretty difficult to avoid the Courtney Barnett craze. Courtney is such a good storyteller, her music is all about the places she’s come from and the people she’s met. Bec Kingma’s recent clips brilliantly reflects the sentiment of CB’s music – beautifully eerie shots of the local scene down at Phillip Island in ‘Kim’s Caravan‘, and I can’t help finding myself trying to recognise specific street corners and old warehouses in ‘Depreston‘.

Other videos that come to mind are the dance and movement in the recent Jungle clips – ‘The Heat‘ and ‘Busy Earnin‘. And check out ‘Pearl‘ by CRi, it’s full of rad shots of mid-west American landscapes and interesting characters, directed by Christof Brandl and Justin Owensby. Steve Roger’s clip for Jack Ladder and the DreamlandersHer Hands’ has been an Aussie favourite for a while too.

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“Self-exploration is also an important element of my work, which I would like to continue working on.”

In all you directive work, there’s a strong sense of colour and movement. Why do you incorporate these elements and what does it mean for you?

I always find myself drawn to visual pieces that show beautiful movement and have amazing colour palettes. As a kid I was glued to Video Hits, watching amazing clips like Michel Gondry’s ‘Around The World‘ clip for Daft Punk, and also watched lots of musicals (films); I think the dance scene from Singing In The Rain, with the pastel pink backdrop and Cyd Charisse’s flowing white dress, is ingrained into my subconscious. I’m trying to explore how the body moves and create in a contemporary way.

Your recent video for Ella Thompson’s ‘I Go Over’ is a dreamy pastel wasteland. Is there an element of femininity in your work you like to explore?

To be honest, it’s not something I am consciously trying to incorporate into my work. I guess it’s something that comes up organically from time to time. I think spending time with Ella in the pre-production stage and getting to know what we both liked has come out in the finished piece. We both love pastels!

Are their certain themes, aesthetics or issues you like to explore within your personal work?

Aesthetically, most of the works I make have a focus on colour and are, in a sense, meditations on movement. In both The Harpoon’s clip and Ella’s clip the visuals are aesthetically light, with colours like pastels and whites. In the future I’d like to explore a dark aesthetic. I do like the idea of focusing on movement, but moving forward, I think I’d like it to become a secondary device rather than being a driving force of a visual piece.

Self-exploration is also an important element of my work, which I would like to continue working on.

In your 2014 clip for The Harpoons, ‘Unforgettable’ sees you collaborate with creative Ruby Fielder. How was it making a visual piece based on shape and movement? Were their challenges that arose?

I find working in a creative team more enjoyable than working solo and am much more productive when I bounce ideas with like-minded people. The beauty of working with Ruby is that she doesn’t come from a film production background, so she doesn’t prevent herself from sharing big ideas with the knowledge of filming restrictions, etc. She’s an artist and her ideas were refreshing! I think music videos are a tough medium because there are two creative teams involved, the musician and the filmmaker. The challenge was coming up with an idea that The Harpoons were happy to visually represent their song.

Is there a certain driving points or artists you look to for inspiration when planning your videos?

I think the inspiration always comes from the song and/or the artist(s). The thing that struck me the most in ‘Unforgettable‘ by The Harpoons were the beats, so it was important to me that each beat had a new image, shape or movement. When I think about ‘I Go Over‘ by Ella Thompson, the inspiration came from Ella’s vocals. It felt like her voice needed the space to move around a large landscape.

What would be your dream shoot? I’m talking location, music, people, anything.

What a luxury!
Location: Iceland. Somewhere where the black rock meets the ice.
People: Let’s get some dancers from Nederlands Dans Theater up to the shoot. Maybe Christopher Walken could be involved as some sort of main character.
Music: Nosaj Thing or Metronomy. I could see either of those acts having a track that would suit the above. Maybe the likes of Verner or 69 could design some cool threads for the dancers.

As a freelance editor you’ve handled a lot of different editing styles. Do you have any directors, artists or individuals you want to collaborate with, national or international?

Joel Kefali is a bit of legend in my book! He’s not locked into one style and his music videos are highly visual; loads of colour, shapes and movement. He’d be amazing to see in a creative headspace. Pierre Debusschere, who directs fashion films and some music video clips, would also be high on the list.

What’s one music video, film or record that changed your perspective or creative direction?

So hard to say, and difficult to tie down to just one source. During uni, I was heavily influenced by a Director’s Label box set, which included the works of Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. From an editing perspective, I think Chris Cunningham’s clips for Aphex Twin and Squarepusher changed my perspective of editing and introduced me to glitchy, beat cutting.

“Keep creating and working with different people, do as much as you can and don’t get too bogged down on one project.”

Any advice for anyone wanting to get into directing, editing or just the local music media scene in general?

I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice, I’m still figuring it out! Melbourne is overflowing with great bands and musicians, so there is plenty of opportunity for great projects and collaborations if you’re looking for it. Keep creating and working with different people, do as much as you can and don’t get too bogged down on one project.

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Are you looking for any particular collaboration work right now?

I’d like to collaborate on a narrative project, but I’m not sure what that might be at the moment. Maybe a short? I’d also like to work with a video visual artist in the future and create something totally different to what I’ve worked on before.

Is there anything else you want to add? 

I’m currently cutting a short doco piece on creative process. I worked with illustrator and textile designer Edith Barrett as she created her new range of prints. Keep your eyes peeled for that one! And I am co-producing a short with two amazing Melbourne directors who I admire both so much. That project is in preproduction at the moment. More details to be announced soon!

To keep tabs on Annelise and her future work, head to
Cover portrait taken by Cat Rewha