That rare breed of music video director who actually cares about composition, plot, acting, and mise-en-scène.
Vincent Haycock makes music videos, but not the kind you normally see on the dumber end of the Internet. He experiments with wacky, outmoded ideas like composition, plot, acting, and mise-en-scène. Haycock's right in there with the current wave of non-performance music video directors, alongside AG Rojas, Romain Gavras, and Andreas Nilsson, the crazy Swede behind that rad Knife video with the skaters.
Haycock just finished directing Spiritualized's new video for "Little Girl." We haven't seen it yet, but we'll be premiering it next week. According to Haycock it was shot on the border of Poland and Germany and features the insane UK stunt rider Chesca Miles tearing up the asphalt on a Ducati Monster. Reason enough to watch this little teaser he just sent us:
Last week I gave Vince (can I call you Vince?) a ring to chat about Sam Shepard, actually making real-life things, and those glory days before YouTube.
NOISEY: Hey Vincent! This won't take long, I know it's really early in LA. How you doing?
Vincent Haycock: I'm good. Well, I dunno. I sorta had a late night of working and some heavy drinking. I'm sweating it out right now.
Oof. OK, then I'll try to make this quick. Let's start by talking a bit about your background. How'd you get started making music videos?
I've been doing videos for five or six years, maybe a little longer. I'm talking about actually making stuff versus just saying you're a music video director, like a lot of people do. Still though, I kind of really like this moment in history. Music videos are a tough genre because of the high budgets, and because kids can just grab Final Cut and a 5D and make something really cheap and quick. Who knows if these people are really directors, but there are a bunch of really great things happening on the fly. I love the immediacy of where things are at right now. It gives the dinosaurs of the industry a real run for their money.
A still from Vincent's new Spiritualized video.
So does that make you a "dinosaur?"
(laughing) I hope not, man! I'm right on the cusp of these two modes. I'm thirty, but I've been doing this for a while. I was a part of Streetgang Films, the newer generation of LA directors. We were the younger guys competing against all those old legends like Spike Jonze and such, the people who were just dominating the industry. Now there's a newer generation than us, so I guess I'm sort of in the middle.
Do you like the newer guys, or do they suck?
I like a lot of it. I don't want to talk shit. I really liked Emily (Kai Bock)'s Grimes video.
So how does your process differ from the new guns?
Well, about four or five years ago I decided that I'd never do a "band performance" video. Like with bands rocking out on rooftops and shit. I only do narrative videos now.
Smart. If I want to see a band play, I'll see them live or watch a live video. Music videos should be something else.
Hell yeah. Some of them have the artists in them, but I like to abstract them from their daily life.
What's your writing process?
My process is developing ideas inspired by the music. The music might remind me of anything from a newspaper to a porno mag. When I started on the Spiritualized video I was reminded of this book of Sam Shepard stories called "Cruising Paradise," where he writes soliloquies of people out in desert lands, lonely people. Spiritualized really work with a similar language of loneliness, and it made sense when we made the recent video.
Tell me about the new video. How did you plan it? Did you just storyboard it out?
Well, my process have evolved. I used to just fly by the seat of my pants, but lately I've been more prepared. With this one, I was listening to the lyrics, which are really sad and simple, and I started to try to imagine a role that a woman can play that's super tough. The song's called "Little Girl," after all.
I sat down with my friend Vanessa Veselka, who recently wrote a book called Zazen, and she helped me iron out the shooting script. When Vanessa was a teenager she backpacked across the US and got into all kinds of gnarly shit, from truck drivers trying to rape her, to drugs. We were imagining a girl who rides a motorcycle whose dad was a NASCAR champion, someone around cars her whole life but who's still young and fragile.
What's the video about? We still haven't seen it.
Yeah, it's still being finished up. It's about a girl who runs away from home on a giant, powerful bike. The casting process took forever, but eventually we found Chesca Miles, one of the best female stunt drivers in the world. We had her on the Polish-German border riding with no hands, running red lights, flying down the Autobahn, and doing huge wheelies. There were even these huge crashes that she just walked away from. She's 20 years old and she pushes this bike around like a toy, it's insane.
No accidents I hope?
Dude, there were tons of accidents. One time she was doing a full inverted wheelie and was going past 90-degres, basically upside down with the back of the bike scraping on the road. On car commercials there are all these union regulations, and a shit ton of money put into safety. We went to Germany so we could get away with things like that; no paramedics.
So are you happy with it?
Yes. For me, this is a video I've been waiting to make for a while. I've been a fan of Spiritualized since way back when they were Spaceman 3. And Chesca pulled off a miracle. We needed a girl who could do these insane stunts, and there are only three in the whole world. And we got one of them.