‘Toby Light’ the new video from Pikelet

‘Toby Light’ is the new clip for the ever-adventurous Pikelet, aka Melbourne’s Evelyn Morris. Taken from her album of 2010, Stem, the video for ‘Toby Light’ is a cinematic, evocative piece that details a duck hunter’s tenuous grip on reality.

We spoke to the director of the clip, Matt Richards, about its inception and creation. Pikelet kicks off her May tour in Sydney this Saturday — see details below.

You can also read an interview with director Matt Richards on The Vine.

 TheVine: Who came up with the concept for the video?

Matt Richards: I came up with the concept for this video. I usually have images that settle with me every few months and this duck hunter character was one of them.

Sometimes you just form a sort of library of ideas or moods you’d like to explore, and then wait for the right project to present itself and act as a vehicle to birth it. It was shot out in Trentham (Victoria) on a friend of the duck hunter character’s property over two days.

The teepee was already there and a couple of our crew slept in it. I was interested in the idea of a man realising he was the tipping point for the extinction of a species. I then wondered what would happen to the hunter who’s obsession sees him come undone.

Is there a relation between the track and the concept? Or did it just seem to fit?

The relationship between the concept and the song seemed to click the way it often does. In this case the song is a lot brighter than the clip, but I think the song is a lot brighter than its lyrics detail. So I’ve tried to mirror that. I try and find images that evoke a feeling that is an extension of a word or phrase, in much the same way that a listener makes a song personal. All great songs have the ability to transcend, to be worded in such a way that the listener can reinterpret them in a way that then grants them ownership.

Am I right in thinking this is from a short film you’re working on? 

The clip has a much longer companion piece — a short film that I went back to Trentham and shot with the same actor several months after we shot the clip. I wanted to expand further on the ideas and take the story [to a much] darker [place in] the hunters psyche. It will premiere at the Dungog film festival in NSW this May.

The shoot looks like it would have been challenging. Feathers, mud, cold water, muzzle flashes. Was it difficult?

Yes it was challenging. It was extremely cold in the water when we shot. Ideally [the lead] would have gone in [the water] a lot earlier in the morning but it just was not safe to do so.

We also had a lot of rain during this shoot, though you wouldn’t guess it. Ev was meant to be in it for a section but the rain meant cancelling her part. The feathers and mud were fun, but probably the most disgusting was that duck that I had to prove was safe to eat to the actor by eating it too!

Did you know you can’t buy a duck with feathers on it in Victoria? Actually, the most challenging thing was, when we shot this clip, the Canon 5D had only just been released and could only shoot at 30fps. Pal is 25fps so all of the footage had to be transcoded, but that still wasn’t satisfactory so I went back to keeping it at 30fps. So it appears slightly slow motion.

Is the finished product close to what you originally envisioned?

Yes the finished product is very close to what I’d envisaged, minus a section with Ev in fairy lights at night shot — that was to be shot matched to the over-head shooting scene. The two were designed to be inter-cut to create a surreal, strobe vibe. I built three camera rigs for this and one was a traditional side by side dual camera 3D rig. Not for doing it in 3D, but for getting that stereoscopic strobe effect where we are essentially cutting between the two cameras every 2nd frame.

What’s the deal with that “animated .gif” style sequence in the middle when he’s shooting up from the leaves? How was that achieved?

That’s not an animated .gif. YIKES!! That’s a background matte that was created by shooting a 360 panorama from the top of a tractor lift and then compositing the much lower wide shot of the actor into it. Then the second pass is adding the muzzle flashes by motion tracking the gun. Finally the 3rd pass is the drop zoom with a bit of motion blur to transition into the final shot. I did all the effects work as well.

Sorry about the ‘animated .gif’ thing.

No offence taken!

Was Evelyn in on the idea or did you present it to her afterwards?

I met with Ev probably 2 or 3 times before the shoot and talked through what I had in mind, including showing her a timing animatic that I find very helpful for letting people see inside your brain. She thought it was a good fit and away we went.

This is your second video for Pikelet. Is there something about what you do that lends itself well to her music?

I really enjoy Pikelet’s music. There is a certain magic-realism/whimsy and otherworldly vibe that I find lends itself to exploring things within a video clip that a lot of other music does not.

What else have you worked on recently/got coming up?

Recently I completed a raucous clip for the Sharpie Crows from New Zealand that was a lot of fun. I have the companion piece to ‘Toby Light’ called AUTOMATA screening atDungog on the 27th May. I also recently collaborated on a film-installation piece with James Kenyon called Incredible Velocity. And I’ve a new short film called ‘Shackle’about a night in the drunk tank ready to hit the festival circuit and I’m in pre-production for my masters film project at the VCA due to shoot in September. Thanks for the interview!

See more of Matt’s work—including clips for Charge Group, Children Collide, Witch Hats, Laura Jean and more—on his Vimeo page and production company site – trainwreck2020.com

Pikelet’s national tour begins this Saturday.

supported by Holy Balm and Donny Benet
Tickets available from Oztix or 1300 762 545

supported by Dick Diver, Angel Eyes and Montero
Tickets available from East Brunswick Club and at the box office 9388 9794.

supported by Erasers, Gilbert Fawn Craig McElhinney and Water Temple
Tickets available from Now Baking

SAT 28 MAY – HAPPY YESS, DARWIN (Pikelet solo show)
with Clue To Kalo, Leah Flanagan, June Mills, the Feedback Orchestra and more.
3pm-1am, all ages, $25 door sales
More info from Happy Yess